5 Ways Account-Based Marketing Works for Startups

Posted in: Guest Contributions, account-based marketing, marketing

Guest contribution from Tonni Bennett, director of sales at Terminus.

Startups have the benefit of being small in size, which is why an account-based marketing approach works perfectly. Account-based marketing is all about being laser-focused on your best-fit prospects instead of doing “spray and pray” marketing with traditional lead generation. Because startups are smaller, sales and marketing teams have fewer resources. They have to get creative with finding ways to grow revenue. Startups can’t wait for leads to fill the top of the sales funnel -- we’ve got to flip that funnel on its head!


I’ve seen how this #FlipMyFunnel method works firsthand as Director of Sales for a startup. We’re dedicating all of our energy to closing a targeted list of accounts instead of generating tons of leads. Here are 5 ways account-based marketing works for startups, and how you can use these best practices in your own company:

1. Alignment across departments

At Terminus, we call it our “smarketing” team. One key way to align your sales and marketing team is to form one “smarketing” team where leaders from sales and marketing meet regularly to decide on a list of the top accounts to go after, and work together to build personas of people to target in those accounts. They come to agreement on one strategy to reach those accounts, determining which channels each team will use, and when each will reach out to an account.

2. Knowing the market

Before you can launch your account-based marketing campaigns, you have to identify your best-fit accounts so you can maximize your efforts to the right audience. It’s best to define your entire TAM (total addressable market) first, based on criteria about what makes a company a good fit for your offering. If you are still learning what your ideal customer fit is, use the data and assumptions that you have based on your current customers. What industries are your customers in? What size are those companies? Are they “ideal” to work with or does it take a lot of hand-holding to service those accounts?

3. Obtaining the right data

Tools like DataFox can empower you to find more details on the accounts that fit your TAM by filtering for the right types of companies based on qualifications such as:

  • Industry
  • Company Size
  • Technology they use

Once you have a target account list, you need to identify the personas of the people within those accounts that you will need to engage. Then, you need to find contact data for as many of the stakeholders involved in the purchase decision as possible, and put them into the CRM.

4. Expanding your reach

After you’ve built a target list of accounts and found contact information for the buyer personas that you want to target, you want to do everything you can to expand your reach further in those accounts. Gartner’s research states the average B2B technology buying decision has five to sevendecision makers. This is crucial knowledge, especially for startups, since every deal matters so much to grow your business. Utilizing account-based marketing tools like Terminus can expand their audience to additional contacts not in their CRM to ensure that you’re reaching as many stakeholders as possible.

5. Engaging the right contacts

Now that you’ve got a list of accounts and contacts to pursue, think creatively about how to surround the stakeholders in your accounts with your brand, creating the halo effect. Account-based marketing and selling is all about moving from a quantity-based approach where you market to the masses with un-personalized content, to a quality-based approach where the focus is on driving engagement and awareness within your target accounts.

This will look different for each B2B organization, so it’s up to you to determine what touch points/channels from a sales and marketing perspective you want to include. This strategy works best when sales and marketing each own different touch points with a similar message, and organize how and when to employ those to maximize awareness within accounts. When a prospect is surrounded by your message on their terms across multiple channels, it will heighten the awareness of your brand, establish legitimacy and lay the groundwork for sales to start a conversation.

When your company is in startup mode, you must fight for every new client, or account. An Account-Based approach makes that easier because sales and marketing are aligned on the same goal. It’s all about growing revenue. This is just one of the reasons why an account-based marketing approach works for early-stage technology companies.

Yes, my company, Terminus, is an account-based marketing platform, but our technology is only one piece of a comprehensive strategy for doing account-based marketing at scale.

Want to learn more? Download our #FlipMyFunnel ebook.


Also, join me at Datafox’s SaaStr happy hour on Tuesday, Feb. 9. I’d love to talk more about how an account-based marketing approach helped my startup grow from $0 to $1M in ARR in just nine months.

Tonni Bennett (@tonnibennett) is Director of Sales for Terminus, a B2B account-based marketing company. Tonni is a sales leader with an accomplished background as a top performing Account Executive. She directly contributed to the success of Pardot, a fast growing marketing automation company, that was acquired by ExactTarget and then by Salesforce. Tonni gained further experience and made her mark on two additional tech startups, PeopleMatter and SalesLoft.