The B2B Marketing ABM Competency Model

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ABM continues to attract attention globally. What began as a B2B marketing phenomenon in the US, has penetrated European markets.

If you google “account-based marketing,” you’ll find just over half a billion results. All the information can be staggering, but breathe easy. We brought in the B2B communication, expert, Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief at B2B Marketing.

B2B Marketing is an organization dedicated to serving B2B marketing professionals. As they continue to research the state of ABM around the globe, they’ve developed the ABM Competency Model. Joel broke down the entire model for us on B2B Revenue Acceleration.

The ABM Competency Model: The Top 5 Elements of a Successful ABM Program

After researching dozens of companies across the globe, Joel’s team pegged the top 5 elements that contribute to a successful ABM program:

  • Alignment
  • Account Definition
  • Data Insight
  • Tech
  • Program Content and Execution

Let’s break each one down:


Marketing and sales alignment has always been a hot topic. But more broadly, successful ABM programs inspire alignment throughout the entire organization — with the C-suite, between mid-level managers, departments, etc.

This alignment challenge requires a cultural and mindset shift, one that must last beyond an initial 3 to 6 month period. Too often, without immediate results, the ABM fire will start to die before B2B buying cycles even have a chance to close.

Account definition:

This is where you consider the size and type of your accounts. Also, are you going to be highly specific, with a 1:1 approach? 1:few? (And, don’t forget: the strategy may evolve as you progress.)

Data insight:

The most successful programs had phenomenal data understanding. Not just good data, but data that was understandable and consumable.


The tech is highly important, but if you are starting out with ABM, you may not need to start with an ABM-specific tool — your current tech stack should suffice until you are able to deliver on some results.

Program content & execution:

This bucket includes everything from ebooks to white papers, events, campaigns, etc.

Competency Doesn’t Happen Overnight

If your organization is crushing each element above, fantastic. But if you feel like your team needs some work in 1 or more areas, don’t worry — ABM is a long-term game that requires some perseverance.

If you want to gauge your current level of ABM progress, here are the stages of progress Joel has observed, also in 5 convenient phases:

The Five Stages of ABM

1. Understanding — You’re scoping the opportunities for ABM, and auditing what you do already.

2. Preparing — You’re creating an ABM team, running a pilot, setting some sales & marketing objectives.

3. Delivering — You’re enjoying a collaborative relationship, delivering on some objectives, probably not quite delivering revenue yet, but creating pipeline or opportunity.

4. Upscaling — You’ve proven your model, and you’re scaling it, perhaps from 1:few to 1:many. You have a greater budget and more internal champions.

5. Perfecting  — You’ve achieved total collaboration, and you’re probably using the most sophisticated tech. (Few organizations have arrived at this stage.)

Guess what? You’re all caught up on ABM.

Oh, and if you want to check out more of the B2B Marketer resources about ABM, check out their resources here.

This post is based on an interview with Joel Harrison from B2B Marketing.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

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