ABM vs. RBM … or is it really ABM and RBM?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is much more than a new buzzword for marketers.  It’s a set of ideas that allows marketing teams to align even more closely with sales and better support a company’s go-to-market activities.  Account-based marketing combined with account-based selling can be very efficient, but should every company adopt account-based marketing?  Let’s discuss this further.


For B2B marketers, ABM is an alternative to Response-Based Marketing (RBM).  While ABM focuses on a set of target accounts with attributes that make good prospects, RBM focuses on individuals who work at companies whose profiles make good targets.  ABM and RBM are really two sides of the same coin – just a different entry point for a company’s go-to-market plan.  One targets people who work at companies and the other targets companies and certain people who work at them.

Most companies won’t have a pure ABM or RBM go-to-market strategy.  Most companies will have a mix of both.  Think of a company with a portion of the sales team focused on strategic accounts.  If your company has that kind of sales structure, then it makes sense to partner with sales on an ABM approach complemented by a robust broader RBM approach.

Some companies have a nearly finite set of companies that are good targets for their products.  Some companies have a broader set of companies that make good targets for their products.  Some companies have a theory that their products are a good target for certain companies but find out in execution that other companies can benefit.  This kind of realization is quite common.

Smart marketers should examine whether they recommend ABM, RBM, or both types of strategies for their companies and then put the plans in place to succeed.  Either way, marketers will want to put the people, plans, and products in place to execute and measure marketing programs to tee up new leads and move prospects along in the sales cycle to meet their volume, velocity, and conversion rate goals. This will involve sales and marketing planning and lead to better alignment between these teams.

If you want to learn more about ABM, read Sangram Vajre’s really nice article or attend an upcoming FlipMyFunnel event.

To learn more about ABM and RBM, watch our webinar: ABM and RBM: The New Power Couple.

Bonnie Crater

About Bonnie Crater

Bonnie is a 5-time VP of Marketing at Genesys, Netscape, Oracle (Network Computer Inc.), Stratify, and VoiceObjects. While valuing the creative side of marketing, Bonnie's real love is marketing operations -- measuring marketing investments and determining investment optimization. Now as CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie is working to help fellow marketers get the data needed to succeed. In 2000, Bonnie was named one of the “Top 20 Female Executives in Silicon Valley” by San Jose Magazine. Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.