For every five companies that jump on a bandwagon just to spout buzzwords, there is at least one company that plants both feet firmly on the ground and waves the standard of truth. This is true, of course, of Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
You’ve probably heard a lot about ABM in recent years, from many companies who claim to offer “powerful ABM solutions,” but weren’t truly powerful, or weren’t even account-based marketing at all. But, based on Gartner’s July 2018 Hype Cycle for CRM Sales report, everything seems about to change.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle provides “a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems.”* In my mind, the Hype Cycle charts the lifecycle of an idea –in this case, account-based marketing— from its origin, through the hype and bluster of the “next new thing,” until, having shaken off the pretenders, the best companies arrive in their niche in the marketing stack.
Gartner Hype Cycle
*Gartner Methodologies, Gartner Hype Cycle,
Nowhere to Go but Down
Gartner’s new Hype Cycle puts ABM a hairsbreadth past the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and on the downward slope towards the “Trough of Disillusionment.” In other words, many account-based marketing users have been burned, disappointed by vendors who over-promise and under-deliver.
Here, according to Gartner’s definition of Trough of Disillusionment, “Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.”*
In my opinion, this should terrify many ABM vendors and be a call-to-action for others. The lofty expectations at the peak can make for a stickier swamp in the trough where users fail to renew contracts, switch vendors, or simply give up altogether.
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Please take notice of the word I used earlier. I did not say that the Gartner Hype Cycle carts the lifecycle of a technology. I said that it charts the lifecycle of an idea. It was a considered word choice. I went back and forth a few times before realizing that idea is exactly what I meant.
Account-based marketing is both idea and technology. A B2B marketing organization may adopt the technology but have yet to fully adopt the idea. The best ABM vendors are continually improving their platform. However, to be successful, a cultural change in marketing organizations needs to occur. Sales and marketing teams need to work closer together, leads must be nurtured at every stage of the buyer journey, progress must be measured by account.
It is only when marketing teams are culturally inclined to practice ABM that they’ll be able to successfully employ technology to be successful. I believe it’s the convergence of both these things that will push account-based marketing up the slope of enlightenment and to the Path of Productivity.
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