Written by Kent Ragen, Demandbase
It’s no secret that agencies are in a life-or-death struggle to maintain their relevance. Programmatic and AI-driven solutions are putting pressure on service providers, client needs are changing more quickly than many agencies can address and margins are shrinking across the board. Amidst all these pressures, the agencies that are surviving are those that are listening carefully to their clients and re-building their expertise to address the changing needs of the market. The agencies that will not just survive but thrive in this new world are those who lead the change for their clients. According to a recent survey from Wakefield Research and Demandbase, the B2B market is sending a clear signal to agencies — the key to their success depends on their ability to understand and execute on account-based marketing (ABM).
The research – which was conducted among 400 agency professionals — unveiled that every agency surveyed has at least one client who is pursuing an ABM strategy. However, on average only 29% of the agencies’ clients are using ABM. Meanwhile, according to Constellation Research, 92% of B2B marketers are pursuing an ABM strategy. While that’s a big disconnect, the good news is, for the agencies looking to remain relevant and grow their relationships with their clients, there’s a big opportunity to make an impact with ABM.
Furthermore, Wakefield’s research showed that there are several reasons why an agency’s clients struggle to adopt ABM. In fact, according to Constellation Research, only 19% of companies pursuing ABM are confident in their ability to execute ABM properly. This is a clear message to agencies that there is an opportunity to step into this void, to be the trusted advisor that can lead their clients to the ABM holy land. For example, agencies can help foster sales and marketing alignment within organizations with ABM and help companies drive coordinated growth. By leading the charge and driving the adoption of ABM practices, agencies are better positioned to help CMOs and sales leaders address their biggest challenges.
But there is little time to waste. Wakefield’s research revealed most agencies are already late to the game. On average, agencies’ clients have been utilizing ABM for the past two years. Yet, most agencies have been practicing ABM for less time than that. In other words, most agencies are trailing their clients into the ABM world. But the survey indicated that there’s reason for hope — going forward, 81% of all agencies surveyed won’t hire new employees if they don’t have ABM experience. So agencies are listening and they’re beginning to react in the form of developing expertise that’s in demand from their clients. But they’re only just getting started, and the ABM opportunity is developing rapidly — the spoils will go to those who race out in front of their clients to truly lead them through this important time of change.
Kent Ragen is the Vice President of Channel Sales at Demandbase, where he focuses on establishing deep relationships with marketing technology platforms, collaborating to provide differentiated and high-value solutions to their clients. Kent works closely with leading B2B agencies, building an ecosystem of ABM experts who help their clients optimize their marketing at every stage of the funnel. Prior to Demandbase, Kent held leadership positions at Return Path, Antares Technologies, Zustek (acquired by Zeta Interactive), and Responsys (acquired by Oracle). Kent holds a BA from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.