In my previous Channel Chatter post, I explained why Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming increasingly popular and provided some valuable tips on getting partners to share their data in order to target and tailor marketing efforts to current customers. Now, let’s dive into specific steps you can take to move forward with and maintain ABM momentum.


Careful planning is needed before suppliers pull the trigger on ABM.  Outside agencies and ABM specialists can help, but they cannot drive channel ABM programs alone.  Before executing an ABM program in the channel, make sure you have can answer these questions:

  • How much data is available?  How much information do you have on your customers and your partner/s.  If you have collected data on past purchase history for specific customers, is this data available to use for  ABM program planning?
  • What can you realistically do?  Before deciding  on a specific ABM program, organizations need to assess their capabilities and readiness.  While it may be the case that you have all the capabilities to execute an ABM program (with direct sales), you need to assess your partner’s capabilities to determine what type of program, what level of complexity, or what type of offers to make to prospects.
  • What are the deliverables?  Both internal and external deliverables should be clearly documented prior to taking any next steps.  Internal deliverables may include target account lists or reports that illustrate past purchase history. External deliverables are tied to the tactics and offers made to customers or prospects
  • Who delivers what to the customer?  ABM best practices call for a clear delineation of accounts. Dividing accounts into three segments – enterprise, general territory and SMB, should be factored into the delivery of content or offers to customers.  For the enterprise segment, marketing may have less of a role in delivery, because sales would have tighter relationships with these customers.  For general territory or SMB segments, marketing may have to step up its role, delivering more content and offers through digital tactics, given a larger set of accounts.


Many organizations – both suppliers and distributors – are beginning to realize they have the data (or know where to get it) required to identify the right type of target for ABM. Moreover, suppliers can combine channel data with transactional data, such as POS data provided by distribution, to  learn which products align to specific sets of partners or types of buyers (e.g. IT, Purchasing, Legal, etc.). As you assemble data for ABM, make sure that you:

  • Deliver the Right Program for the Right Partner. Knowing which product, which customer and which partner form the perfect go-to-market combination requires analytics that can identify data sets containing all three.  
    • For example, if a supplier wants to sell a financial application to an accounting department in a mid-size organization (i.e. <1000 employees), they will need to obtain data that demonstrates which partners are actively providing similar solutions to this buyer, as these would have the highest propensity to succeed.
  • Define and Assign.  Making ABM programs easy to execute for channel partners is just as important as targeting the right prospect.  One type of program that works especially well with Direct Market Resellers (DMRs) is a “define-and-assign” program.  These programs start by defining the criteria for creating a compelling call-to-action using data that identifies which accounts fit the profile.  This list of defined accounts are then assigned to telesales representatives.
    • An example of a define-and-assign program could be an offering to educational customers who have purchased the initial version of a software application in support of a course.  Let’s say that collaboration was one of the key selling points for v1 of the software app. The define-and-assign program would identify these customers, then assign them to sales reps in specific territories and provide them with talk tracks that leverage known data. For example, ”As collaboration was a key requirement when you purchased version 1 of our application, I want to be sure you know about the new collaboration features now available in version 2…”

You and your partners are already collecting a wealth of data on current customers. Why not leverage it for everyone’s benefit? With proper planning, clear communication and buy-in from channel partners, ABM can be a powerful path to increased channel sales.  


Be sure to get this free research brief from Zift and SiriusDecisions. The SiriusDecisions Research Brief: Account-Based Marketing in the Channel details the rules of engagement for channel sales and marketing to know accounts, so you and your partners can coordinate and capitalize on ABM in the channel.


Laz talks about Account-Based Marketing in this Channel Visions video: