Account-based marketing is arguably the hottest trend in business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing. But is it likely to outlast the initial wave of enthusiasm? This month brought one indication of its potential staying power.
In mid-December, the ABMie awards became to account-based marketing what the Emmy awards were to the fledgling television industry in January 1949.
The ABMie awards are a tongue-in-cheek allusion to television’s popular Emmy Awards, now a 67-year-old tradition that attracts millions of TV viewers.
At a gala banquet, about 150 well-dressed attendees applauded the seven first-ever recipients of ABMie awards. Presented at the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Atlanta, the awards honor excellence in account-based marketing (or ABM).
Recognizing an emerging business segment
ABM will never be as broadly influential as television. But it has a shot at becoming similarly transformational for a niche of B2B sales and marketing professionals.
Like television, ABM offers a new lens through which an industry sees itself and the world it serves.
Honoring top performers
Both the Emmys and the ABMies began as ways to recognize star performers and draw attention to a nascent industry.
The ABMies are a brainchild of Sangram Vajre and Nikki Nixxon. Mr. Vajre is chief marketing officer at Terminus and Ms. Nixon is director of marketing for #FlipMyFunnel. Terminus, which hosted the awards, is an Atlanta tech firm that provides systems and services to help B2B companies practice ABM at scale.
Ms. Nixon said the goal of the new awards is to recognize and to honor the best and brightest practitioners in account-based marketing, sales, and customer success. She said Terminus plans to continue the awards annually.
And the winners are...
The December awards recognized winners in seven categories:
Top ABM Newcomer
For an organization that has been practicing ABM for less than two years and is driving high return on investment from their campaigns
Winner: Kristen Wendel, Director of Marketing Operations at Version One
Best Comprehensive ABM Program
For the B2B organization that best aligns their marketing, sales, and customer success teams to drive revenue and create an amazing customer experience
Winner: Joe Quinn, Americas Section Manager, Account Based Marketing at National Instruments
Best Account Based Demand Generation Program
For the B2B organization that best generates new demand through a highly targeted, account-based approach
Winner: Lisa Skinner, Senior Director of Demand Generation at Localytics
Best Customer Retention and Engagement Campaign
For the B2B organization that uses an account-based approach to reduce churn and get customers more engaged with their product
Winner: Adam Polaszewski, Senior Director of Demand Generation at Support.com
Top Female ABM Leader
For the female ABM Leader who best challenges the status quo in her organization to drive revenue and improve customer experience
Winner: Masha Finkelstein, Demand Generation Lead at BetterWorks
Best Account Based Sales Development Program
For the B2B organization that best uses an account-based approach to B2B sales development
Winner: Carolyn Feibleman, Solutions Consultant at EverString
Best Pipeline Acceleration Campaign
For to the B2B organization that demonstrates creativity and operational efficiency to best accelerate pipeline
Winner: TJ Nokleby, Manager of Demand Generation at InsideSales.com
A fast-paced, light-hearted ceremony
The awards were presented in a style similar to that of the Emmys, with a dramatic video introduction for each category. Before announcing each award, a presenter opened a sealed envelope containing the name of the winner.
Unlike the bloated Emmy awards, this program moved at a fast clip. Presenters offered no description of the winning programs, and recipients offered no comments.
In this emerging field of practice, it would have been helpful for the program to provide more information about what distinguished the winners.
How winners were chosen
Eight judges chose the winners from a list of nominees that Terminus assembled. No one at Terminus knew who the winners were before the attendees did, Ms. Nixon said.
The judges were:
- Maria Pergolino, SVP of Global Marketing at Apttus
- Matt Senatore, Service Director of Account-Based Marketing at SiriusDecisions
- Koka Sexton, Founder of Social Selling Labs
- Julia Stead, Director of Demand Generation at Invoca
- Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD
- Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing, Inc.
- Tyler Lessard, CMO at Vidyard
- David Raab, MarTech Guru at Raab Associates.
Ms. Nixon noted that none of the judges worked for an organization that would benefit from selecting one recipient over another.
Why did the program committee think it appropriate to recognize the "top female ABM leader?" Might Masha Finkelstein, who won the award in that category, feel challenged to explain to her team at home why gender is relevant to excellence in ABM?
"Women are historically under-represented in tech," Nikki Nixon said. "Because most of our community represents tech companies, we try as an organization to always ensure women are highlighted, whether it's ABMies, #FlipMyFunnel conferences, or even our [marketing] content."
#FlipMy Funnel is a one-day conference and roadshow that has convened seven times in various U.S. cities since August 2015. An Atlanta #FlipMyFunnel conference followed the day after the award dinner.
Sponsors of #FlipMyFunnel helped pay the cost of the ABMie awards and the event. Proceeds from the dinner were donated to an Atlanta non-profit called PowerMyLearning, which makes computers and educational software available to students in underserved primary schools.
A historical perspective
At the time of the first Emmys in 1949, fewer than a million television sets were in use in the United States.
The first Emmy ceremony recognized only six winners, all for programming local to Los Angeles.
The first Emmy award for Most Outstanding Television Personality went to 20-year-old Shirly Dinsdale, with her puppet sidekick Judy Splinters.
By comparison, the ABMies appear to be off to a much more promising start.