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Adding Partners to your ABM Playbook

Jen Spencer

February 13th, 2017

Account Based Marketing Playbook

ABM, or Account-Based Marketing, is perhaps the most talked about acronym to hit the MarTech scene since, well, SaaS. In case you’ve been without the Internet for the last couple of years, “ABM is an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account” (Thanks, Marketo).

ABM is HOT, with 90% of B2B marketers considering it either “important” or “very important” to their strategies, and over 70% plan to increase their ABM budgets over the next 12 months. The trouble is, most of these marketing professionals are thinking about one side of their business — the direct side — and are missing out on the enormous opportunity to mash up ABM strategies with indirect sales and marketing efforts (aka, your partner program).

When I talk about partnerships and partner programs, this can be referral partners who refer business to you, it might mean value-added resellers (VARs) who are reselling your product or service, or maybe it’s managed service providers who are assuming responsibility for some defined services as they relate to the product your company sells. Regardless of the type of partner, the same rules of engagement when it comes to ideal customer profiles will apply.

Let Your ICP Be Your Guide

As you already know, the cornerstone of your ABM strategy is truly understanding your ideal customer profile, or ICP. You should be able to communicate your ideal customer in one or two sentences, and honestly this is something that anyone at your company needs to be able to do.

Now let’s take this concept of an ideal customer profile and expand it out to your partners.

You’ve spent all of this time and energy identifying your ideal customer, marketing to that customer, and building a sales process around closing that customer. So, when you set out to acquire new partners to grow indirect revenue, your strategy should be to acquire partner organizations who will help get your product or service into the hands of that same type of ideal customer.

It might feel good to see those new partner numbers soar and sign on whoever comes knocking on your landing page door, but partners who don’t bring you closer to your ideal customer will at best deliver big old goose eggs quarter after quarter and at worst pull your already overstretched team into conversations that don’t make sense for the overall health of your business.

Start Thinking About Business Holistically

There’s an amazing opportunity for today’s sales and marketing teams to take a programmatic approach to work with partners and drive revenue together.

Imagine you identify that, let’s say, the manufacturing vertical is an industry where you can expand your ideal customer profile. Perhaps your efforts have been in IT, but after some research you find that your product has a solid fit in this other space. Rather than start from scratch from an acquisition standpoint, bring in a partner with expertise in this new vertical.

Partner on shared accounts, build a strategy together, and drive joint revenue together.

By working with a right-fit partner, you will be more effective in the field because together you bring both product and subject knowledge — and this pairing builds trust, both among you and your partner, and with your common customer.


Come meet new partners at the Revenue Summit in San Francisco on March 7 and 8! Join us for two days of networking and speakers and building relationships with new partners from across the globe.

About the author

Jen Spencer

Jen Spencer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Allbound, a SaaS platform that helps companies empower their resellers and distributors to be more customer-focused through content and collaboration. Jen loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. You can follow her on Twitter @jenspencer.

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