5 most frequent account based marketing pilot errors | B2B Marketing | ABM

What are the most common mistakes marketers make when running an account-based marketing pilot programme? Check out our infographic to avoid turbulence on your own

ABM pilot schemes

tend to have two separate sets of objectives – the project goals, and the broader internal targets.

1. Project goals

Often metrics used to measure ABM success (

such as ROI

) are based on long-term return. Yet, with sales cycles of 12-18 months, it’s unlikely those timeframes will align with a pilot. This means you may not be able to report closed business revenue metrics on new accounts; however, you should be able to provide evidence of increased engagement. Furthermore, selecting known accounts that are at the mid to end of their sales cycle is an effective way to demonstrate both engagement and financial results.

Metrics you could use to

track the success of your pilot


  • Engagement with named individuals in the decision-making unit
  • Number of face-to-face new business meetings
  • Number of pitches or invitations-to-tender
  • Number of product demos
  • Number of proposals
  • Conversion rate
  • Value of new pipeline
  • Reduction in sales cycle time.

If your pilot targets existing accounts, which experts recommend, further metrics could include:

  • Increase in average order value
  • Increase in average revenue per customer
  • Reduction in attrition rate.

You will not have the scope in a short pilot to achieve all of these metrics. Nor is it sensible to retrofit which of these measures have been successful once your pilot is complete. Instead, choose two or three of these to go after, so you can really focus your attention and activity on achieving them.

“Are you deploying ABM for your customers or for your organization? Where should you focus to prove the approach? Decide and define what success looks like for your company, then keep the tech to a minimum to start with and investigate using an agency with ABM expertise.”

Shane Redding, MD, Think Direct

2. Internal targets

Beyond the project goals, you’ll probably have internal objectives you want the pilot to achieve. These could be to:

  • Improve alignment between sales and marketing
  • Improve the perception of marketing across the business
  • Prove

    ABM can work within your organization

    and with target accounts
  • Prove the ABM pilot could be scaled into a full program.

While it’s important to hold these in mind, they shouldn’t be the focus of your pilot. If you cannot achieve the project goals, you won’t be able to meet the targets above.

Don’t be afraid to fail

An additional objective of your pilot should be to refine your future approach to ABM. Few seasoned account-based marketers would claim to have nailed their approach first time. The pilot should find out what works for your team and accounts, and what doesn’t.

For ABM to be a success, there needs to be a culture within your organization that allows for testing and learning. If you work in an ‘all or nothing’ culture, where the potential for ABM lives and dies on the success of your pilot, it may not be the right environment for ABM to thrive in the future.

The 5 most frequent account based marketing pilot errors infographic

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