Starting Account Based Marketing – Sangram Vajre, CMO, Terminus

Filed in Marketing Automation on February 2, 2016 by

We recently had a chance to chat with Sangram Vajre, CMO of Terminus, about aligning sales and marketing departments who are starting account based marketing (ABM). It was a great conversation, and we captured his insights here for you to enjoy!

If you’re looking for more information about starting account based marketing, be sure to participate in the upcoming #FlipMyFunnel event, happening Feb 25 in San Francisco. You can register here. Be sure to use Promo code PFL50 to save 50% on the registration.

Read on for great insights!

How and when should organizations begin implementing ABM strategies?

The best time is yesterday to start implementing ABM strategies. The reality is that less than 1% of leads turn into customers, based on Forrester research. So unless companies have massive budgets to fill with top of the funnel leads and intend to spend a ton of sales team resources, time, and energy on finding 1 out of every 100 leads as a customer, ABM is the right strategy.


The best way for starting account based marketing is to focus on campaigns that target pipeline velocity, which put everything you have onto the opportunities that are within your sales funnel and turn more of these opportunities into customers. Even a percent change in pipeline velocity can mean millions in top line revenue.


Do you think organizations are better served with incremental rollout, or should they be looking for a complete overhaul?

Change is never easy and the fact that we, as marketers, have been coin operated and focused on lead generation for a decade, makes it especially hard. Even worse, the executive team in most organizations knows that leads is not the measure of success but still mandates that marketing drive more leads.

The best way to rollout, in my opinion, is by doing pilot campaigns with buy-in from sales leadership. Imagine running a campaign, targeting accounts the sales team cares about—and  then marketing executes an air-cover campaign on those accounts with advertising, direct mail, personalized content, and customized webinars to create both engagement and excitement in those accounts.

You are guaranteed to win the sales team over, and in turn win over your customers. Start by showing account-by-account engagement and drop the vanity metrics like leads, impressions, and clicks as success metrics.


What are some best practices for integrating ABM with your sales/marketing strategy?

One of the best campaigns for ABM that I have seen so far has been of warming up accounts to turn in to marketing qualified accounts. For example, the sales and marketing teams have identified together the list of leads that have shown interest in last few days/weeks.

Before Sales start pounding the phone, warm up not just the lead, but also the entire account (all the people in that department and executive team) with advertising and direct mail i.e. non-interruptive messages. This way you are “warming up” the account proactively before sales starts calling them.

It creates a halo-effect around the company stake holders and an affinity to your brand, making you more likely to get appointments and demos with your target company. I call it the perfect sales/marketing heavenly campaign. Dig it? More of the best practice strategies are outlined in the ABM Framework below, and are also outlined in this blog article.

ABM Marketing Framework

ABM Marketing Framework


What specific tactics would you recommend for executing ABM campaigns? (For example, digital display ads, email, mail, social, website personalization, etc.)

I can go on this forever. The best way to think about this, in my opinion, is the context of hi-tech/hi-touch and low-tech/ low-touch. The closer you are to the revenue the higher the touch needs to be.

A classic example of that is doing direct mail to list of target accounts that you know are worth sending something to, and customizing it. The accounts that you are targeting are not necessarily ready to buy, so you could continue to have a hi-tech but low-touch campaign.

ABM Marketing Strategies

ABM Marketing Strategies


How do you see direct mail being utilized in ABM?

Direct mail is the new black in B2B. There is nothing more personalized than a handwritten note with a personalized direct mail that is fully customized for your prospect or customer. The problem is that it’s hard to scale. [Editor’s note: PFL specializes in helping you scale your automated direct mail efforts. Learn how here.]

Direct mail should be used with high-value accounts, accounts in pipeline, and never forget the customers who are paying the bills. Sending your customers something will drive more customers as they will be raving about you to everyone they know. Anyone starting account based marketing should consider direct mail.


What technology stack do you see as critical for successful ABM implementation?

This is a great question. Something I wrestled with in the early days of ABM campaigns. You are familiar with the #FlipMyFunnel philosophy then here is the graphic that can help you find the right platform from each of the ABM stages of the flipped funnel – Identify, Expand, Engage, and Advocate. Below are the graphics for the flipped funnel and the stack that can help you map your platform to your strategy.

Flipping the funnel can help when you're starting account based marketing

Flipped Funnel

Tech Stack for ABM

Tech Stack for ABM


Where can organizations turn when they’re ready to take the ABM plunge?

Below are the top 10 resources that I would recommend reading if you are ready to start thinking about ABM.

1) Marketers Aren’t Taking Advantage of Account-Based Marketing—Yet

Author: Andrew Corselli, Direct Marketing News

2) What’s Behind the Resurgence for Account-Based Marketing

Author: Dan Ziman, LeanData

3) Believe the Hype – You Should Be Doing Account-Based Marketing

Author: Megan Heuer, SiriusDecisions

4) Creating Targeted B2B Content with Account Based Marketing

Author: Kimbe McMaster, Vidyard

5) The ABCs of ABM

Author: Ned Leutz, ZoomInfo

6) The 5 Things to Know About Account-Based Marketing

Author: Mathew Sweezey, Pardot

7) The Difference Between Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Outbound Sales 

Author: Craig Rosenberg, TOPO

8) All About Account-Based Marketing #SlideShare

Author: Jon Miller, Engagio

9) The Rise of Account-Based Marketing

Author: Elisa Greene, Demandbase

10) 5 Ways AdTech Can Scale Account-Based Marketing

Author: Sangram Vajre, Terminus


Where the best place to learn about starting account based marketing?

The #FlipMyFunnel Roadshow is designed to bring together everyone who impacts the customer experience including sales, marketing and customer success leaders. The content allows attendees to better understand their counterparts, increase their effectiveness in their organization and challenge the status quo. The conference is in San Francisco on Feb 25th, at the Village.

Register now using our promo code below and save 50%! We hope to see you there!

Register today!

Register today!


About Sangram Vajre

Sangram - Bio

Sangram Vajre, co-founder and CMO of Terminus, an account-based marketing platform. Sangram has been leading marketing teams over a decade and most recently, he headed up Marketing at Pardot, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013.

Sangram is putting all that knowledge to good use as he is currently authoring the first-ever “Account-Based Marketing for Dummies,” to be released in April 2016.

You can follow him on Twitter at @sangramvajre.

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