Study: Confusion About ABM May Hinder Adoption 1

RollWorks, a division of NextRoll, announced the results of a brand new survey on topics including COVID-19’s lingering effects on B2B marketers and sales professionals, as well as the state of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). The survey reveals that half of the respondents have experienced pandemic-driven burnout and are feeling challenged to generate captivating campaigns. Meanwhile, B2B marketers are increasingly looking to ABM to drive efficiencies in generating pipeline. And yet, more than 60% of those polled said that extreme inconsistency in an industry-wide definition of ABM has either slowed the procurement of their solution, prevented them from adopting an ABM solution, or stopped them from considering ABM altogether.

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Marketing and Sales Get New ‘Business as Usual Reality Check

The coronavirus has turned the world of B2B marketing and sales on its head and has made marketers more aware that business as usual and programs that they never really ‘dug into’ to prove value can’t cut it anymore:

  • The pandemic is still top of mind: In an open-ended question, 24% of respondents entered something related to COVID-19 as the biggest buzzword in the B2B sales and marketing space in 2020.
  • Marketers are burned out: 50% said that they’ve experienced burnout since the start of the pandemic, and just as many reported that the lines between their work and personal lives have become more blurred in a counter-productive way.
  • Creativity stalls with lockdown: The mental and emotional load of quarantine and work-from-home life is also impacting B2B marketing and sales work output compared to pre-pandemic inspiration, with 34% struggling to come up with creative ideas.
  • Rise in virtual no shows: Amid the pandemic-driven chaos, B2B marketers are trying to keep the machine running while managing challenges like the shift to virtual events, which are seeing struggles of their own – 32% of respondents said they’re seeing higher registration for virtual events but an increase in no shows.

“The pandemic has thrown a curveball into most companies’ go to market plans, highlighting simmering anxieties while elevating long bemoaned resource challenges like time, money and people. The efficiency required for B2B marketing teams lights a path straight to an account-based strategy as the north star they’re looking for,” said Randi Barshack, CMO of RollWorks. “Unfortunately, the survey also revealed that lack of industry understanding of Account-Based Marketing is drastically inhibiting adoption. I dare to say that the industry’s over-exuberance to coin the next quippy phrase or own the buzzword has thrown confusion into the arena. Heading into 2021, B2B marketers will not only benefit from but need the efficiency of an account-based strategy. 2020 has also uncovered an appetite for companies leading with empathy and authenticity.”

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Interest in ABM Grows while Confusion Persists

Many B2B organizations are realizing that ABM means efficiency and precision can coexist at scale. As a result, ABM is inching its way to becoming more mainstream. Nearly half (48%) said they currently use ABM and an additional 14% said they plan to in the future.

  • ABM can scale: Survey results also confirmed ABM’s power at scale, with 39% of respondents managing target account lists of more than 1,000 accounts.
  • What is ABM?: That said, there’s an overall lack of industry understanding of what ABM is — and isn’t. A whopping 81% said that across industry thought leaders, analysts, and influencers, there are inconsistent definitions of ABM – only 19% said they’ve seen one definition, and 7% said that they’ve “seen too many definitions to count.”
  • ABM confusion slows adoption: This lack of clarity and consistency ultimately creates confusion, which can overwhelm marketing and sales, as well as their stakeholders. In fact, nearly half of respondents (46%) said this inconsistency has either prevented them from adopting an ABM solution or stopped them from considering ABM altogether. An additional 26% said this inconsistency has slowed down the procurement of their ABM solution.

Barshack continued, “As we head into 2021, marketers are accepting that the burnout that comes with a changing landscape will continue to happen, but that we need to set a new standard for marketing. Account-Based Marketing is an efficient, scalable marketing strategy that focuses on engaging the right accounts at the right time, through a variety of marketing channels. The success of the market isn’t determined by the few who agree on one definition, but rather a focus on ABM’s very clear value of being the best bet for signing customers and keeping your business competitive.”

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