Five Ways to Find the Budget for ABM

August 27, 2019

By Peter Isaacson

Juj Winn/Getty Images

Budgeting is one of those tasks that requires a lot of convincing. Whether it's convincing your leadership team, convincing your team, or convincing your whole company, finding the budget for a new initiative like account-based marketing (ABM) can be tricky. It can be exceptionally challenging to get budget approval when decision makers haven't seen the benefits.

Here are five tips for making the budget process go smoothly when it comes to implementing a full-fledged ABM program.


1. Get a Top-Down Directive in Place

If possible, obtain an ABM-specific budget directive early in the process. This lets you have both high-level buy-in for ABM implementation as well as dedicated funds. You'll then want to step back and look at the processes and tools already in place to support ABM. Questions worth asking are: is your CRM set up to integrate with the level of detail that ABM requires? What about your company's marketing automation system? Keep in mind that over the next several months, you will need to prove ROI of this spend, so be thorough in your review of reports and dashboards necessary to track your goals.


2. Look Into Using an Innovation Budget

Marketing budgets are traditionally weighted toward demand-gen activities with seemingly little leeway in their budgets. But keep in mind that many marketing departments do have some wiggle room for testing out new approaches to marketing. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019, CMOs set aside 16 percent of their 2018 budgets for innovation, but 63 percent expected their innovation budget to increase in 2019. Make a pitch for using some of your team's innovation budget when looking to fund an ABM program.


3. Share Technology Budgets with Sales

Since sales teams benefit from ABM due to the shared focus on accounts and revenue, another potential area to find budget is to turn to sales for budget assistance. Sales teams typically have budget for technologies like CRM or sales-enablement tools, so make the case that the tools needed to invest in ABM will provide valuable insights for sales to leverage. For instance, sales can get insight into anonymous buyer activity, prospect interest in particular products and companies, and visibility into stalled deals. And then, if you do succeed in getting budget from sales, it's important to clearly and frequently demonstrate the win/win outcome of this investment to increase your chances of success with future budget requests.


4. Roll it Up Under Other Initiatives

Look at the areas of your budget that could benefit from an ABM lens, whether it's website redesign or marketing automation. For instance, when redesigning a website, you may want to incorporate account-level data to inform the design and add website personalization tools to increase conversions. Or as you design your ABM program, you may find you need to reconfigure your marketing automation system (MAS). There are tools that can help you accomplish this, so the line item for MAS could be another place to allocate budget for your ABM effort. Remember that you may be able to phase your budget requests by starting with one aspect or segment and then scale from there once you have data on its performance.


5. Shift Budgets from Existing Programs

Taking an account-based approach may necessitate revamping your marketing mix as you start looking at all of your channels through a target account list lens. Use this opportunity to find budget for ABM by reallocating funds toward programs that may benefit from an account-focus. First, understand what's working and what's not within your current programs. Then, reevaluate each program with an eye toward the likelihood of it reaching your target accounts. For those items that have less significant returns or engagements with your target accounts, consider reallocating budget to other programs that are more account-based and position it as a way to test the effectiveness of your programs. That way, if the test succeeds, you can make the case for more ABM budget, and if it doesn't, you can move that budget back to its original line item.



Getting budget for your ABM strategy is ultimately about marketing to your colleagues. Convince them that an ABM strategy will help them do their jobs better; convince them that ABM will streamline processes; and convince them that ABM will move the needle on revenue. Ultimately, the key to keeping and scaling your ABM budget lies in being able to demonstrate the benefits of an ABM strategy through meaningful ROI.

Peter Isaacson is CMO at Demandbase.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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