Building an Account Funnel for ABM

With any campaign, proving success with clear reports is a critical feature. This is especially true for account based marketing campaigns, but there’s a catch that makes ABM reporting difficult.

Almost all the out-of-the-box reporting tools care about leads, not accounts. As if reporting on leads themselves wasn’t hard enough to setup!

In this article, my aim is to show you an easy framework for lead lifecycle reporting. Then, I’ll show you how to adapt that framework for powerful and simple account reports that prove the value of your ABM efforts. To get started, we need to understand lead lifecycle with component scoring.

(Feel free to skip straight to the account based discussion, but it’s based on the model below so I’d recommend reading on through).

One quick note: my examples are in Hubspot (which I love). But, every major marketing automation tool (Marketo, Pardot, etc.) can support this infrastructure.

Let’s dive in!

Lead Lifecycle with Component Scoring

The lead lifecycle helps us understand buyer journeys as they happen. To keep things easy, I (mostly) use Hubspot’s terminology. (Side note, Hubspot considers these stages so universal that they won’t let you edit them at all, and built their whole system around them).

We’ll call our stages:

  • Prospect (Hubspot calls this a Subscriber)
  • Lead
  • MQL
  • SQL
  • Opportunity
  • Customer
  • Advocate
This is what they look like in Hubspot:


Here is a custom setup in Salesforce and Pardot:

Salesforce: (note that this field is created on both Lead and Contact object, and mapped):

Here’s Pardot:

Every organization uses different terms to describe these stages, and that’s totally fine. What matters is that we have clear thresholds to delineate where a lead sits in the process.

I use two different scoring components for the upper part of this funnel:

Engagement Score and Demographic Score combine to make Lead Score.

Engagement + Demographic = Lead Score

Here’s how it looks in Hubspot:

We will talk about that in more detail in a moment, but first let’s identify our thresholds.

Here’s my default lead lifecycle model for a Salesforce org (in combination with any marketing automation platform):

Here’s how this might look in your marketing automation:

Understanding Dynamic Component Lead Scoring

As I mentioned above, my default lead scoring module features two components – engagement score and demographic score

Lead Engagement Score: a dynamic measure of a person’s current engagement.

Lead Demographic Score: a static measure of the person’s value to the
marketing and sales orgs.

Lead Engagement Score with Decay

Digital engagements come in a few forms, but not too many. I usually score the following engagements as my default. If your organization cares about extra or different criteria, you can add or subtract as needed!

Here’s how this might look in your marketing automation:

Based on the above, a prospect will gain points, first becoming a Lead, then an MQL (at which point the sales team begins the qualification process).

But, there is a problem!

Let’s say a prospect visits three resource pages per month for two years. They’d become an MQL (3 pages X 24 months X 1 point per page = 72 points). They’d look equally valuable as someone who filled out the “contact us” form just this morning. Not good!

So, we apply a decay to each of the engagement scores. Those two points you received for visiting a key page? In thirty days, you’ll lose one of them. In thirty more days, you’ll lose the second one. In this way, the engagement score ends up being a true reflection of a person’s real interest.

Sample decay:

Now, we have a dynamic engagement score model that automatically changes over time!

Here’s how it looks:

Next, we need to combine it with the demographic score.

Demographic Score:

This one is much simpler and easier to setup.

Think about your ideal leads – what are their personas? Titles? Industries? Geos? Based on that criteria, we can set the demographic scores that remain fixed. Here’s an example:

Persona:

Here’s how this looks:

Here’s a hypothetical: Let’s say an executive, a director, and a manager all fill out the same resource form. They gain 20 engagement points each.

Executive: 40 demographic points + 20 engagement points = lead score 60 and Lifecycle = MQL

Director: 30 demographic points + 20 engagement points = lead score 50 and Lifecycle = MQL

Manager: 20 demographic points + 20 engagement points = lead score 40 and Lifecycle = Lead

So, your sales team would see that their best target is the executive and the second best target is the director. The manager wouldn’t quite make it to MQL, and wouldn’t enter the sales queue.

Now, we have a complete model with dynamic component scoring and lead lifecycle thresholds. The next step is to establish the same process on the account level.

Account Lifecycle Funnel and Scoring

The lead system above is pretty robust, so why do we need this whole account funnel thing anyway?

Well, the lead system above has some structural problems when we think Accounts. Let’s consider how the lead-level view misrepresents how large organizations make decisions.

In the example below, two things are happening at the same time:

First; meet SuperFan Dan. Dan LOVES your content, and even though he is not from your ICP, he hasn’t been disqualified. Instead, he racks up engagement points by submitting forms, clicking emails, and visiting pages. He ends up with 500 points.

Second, a buying committee from Microsoft decides to explore products in your space. Seven different people from Microsoft each go to your website and fill out one form each. All get 20 engagement points and end up with lead scores below 50, and thus don’t become MQLs.

The Microsoft team never even shows up on your sales team’s radar, while SuperFan Dan gets all the attention. But of course, the buying committee from Microsoft represents a much larger opportunity!

If we were looking at this from an account based perspective, we can see things more clearly.

Defining Account Based Success

Why should we setup account lifecycle and account scoring? Let’s consider what a good ABM report might look like.

Let’s say that you have 100 target accounts. Some of them are current customers that you’re seeking to expand. Some are prospect accounts who have never engaged with you.

An ideal report might look like this:

  1. 40% of target accounts moved at least one step further in the buyer journey
  2. 30% of our prospect accounts became MQAs
  3. 10% of our target account list became either customers or advocates

With a clear account funnel, these easily digestible insights can prove that our ABM work is successful!

Setting up Account Lifecycle and Account Scoring

Given the robust lead lifecycle we implemented above, the easiest way to setup an account funnel is just to copy it. So, we’ll port over the same structure from leads to accounts.

We’ll need Account Engagement Score and Account Demographic Score.

Account Engagement Score:

We’ll use marketing automation to add a score to the account each time a Lead or Contact engages. It can even follow the same scoring rules we had for Leads!

Here’s an example of how this might look:

If your marketing automation won’t let you do this (ahem, Pardot), there is another option. You could install some Salesforce Apex code to connect your leads with your accounts. This lets you roll up the lead scores onto an account to generate your account score. But, we can dive into that another time.

If you’re ready to get especially advanced, try incorporating intent data (e.g. Bombora is a great provider here) and/or Reverse IP (eg. KickFire) to supplement your Account Engagement Score. We even did a webinar with Bombora on this!

Account Demographic Score

Account Demographic Score functions similarly to Person Demographic Score. But, instead of scoring based on individual criteria, we use company criteria. Many of these criteria will be the same, like vertical or geo. But, now we can include:

  • Annual Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Funding
  • Propensity to buy? (predictive analytics)
  • Technographics (what technologies the account uses)

Account Lifecycle

Now that our account engagement and demographic scores are ready, it’s time for Account Lifecycle. We want to copy the same Lead Lifecycle we had before, only this time adjusting the thresholds to apply to accounts:

Now, we can automate these thresholds like so:

“Became” Dates

Before we can set up our reports, we will need to add one last step: configuring your reports with “Became” dates.

One nice Hubspot out-of-the-box feature is the “Became” fields (eg. Became a Lead Date, Became an MQL Date, etc). These dates make reporting much cleaner than using “create date”.

Here’s Hubspot’s default setup:

Now, you’ll need to create these fields on Account/Company object and add them to your Account Lifecycle like so:

Why not just use “Create Date” for reporting?

“Create date” actually has a lot of problems as a reporting tool. First, you’ll often acquire data that you want to add to your database even before it’s reached a key threshold (like, became an MQL). What happens if my lead is created in April, but becomes an MQL in May? If I run my report for “MQLs with Create Date in May”, I won’t catch that lead! Using Create Date only shows the leads who were created in that timeframe, not those who were qualified in that time frame (which is what we really care about). Plus, if you have lots of old data, you might have records who were created years ago but became reactivated recently. With “Create Date” reporting, you’ll miss those reengagements and qualifications. With the reporting program outlined here, you’ll catch all of the key milestones!

Finalizing your ABM Funnel Report

To complete your Account Funnel Report, utilize your newly created “Became” date fields for the Account/Company object. Your newly minted workflow should be filling them with data automatically!

Here’s how that might look:


Finally! We have Lead Score, Lead Lifecycle, Account Score, Account Lifecycle, and a clean ABM report.

Integrating ABM platforms:

Software like RollWorks, Demandbase, and others have great dashboards for upper funnel activity, but they don’t extend down the funnel like the report above. Other platforms with dashboards for ABM include Engagio, Terminus, and more. These platforms help organize ABM campaigns and targeted outreach, and provide great reports. But, I’d recommend the setup above to get the full funnel picture (and not just the top funnel engagements). You can use my framework alongside any of these tools!

Hopefully this has been a useful dive into the workings of ABM reporting. I’m a big believer that all B2B marketing should be account-based marketing. The trend toward Account focus is still only in its nascent stages. With that said, if you need help understanding this process, maybe an ABM Blueprint would help. If that sounds interesting, or if you could use help with marketing automation, schedule a consultation with our team. We’d love to help.

Thanks for reading!

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