Marketing Strategy used to be about Positioning, Segmentation, and Targeting; and it still should be.

Before the internet, most B2B marketing was direct, be that mail or calls, and because of the relatively high cost it meant that segmentation and targeting were considered essential disciplines of the contemporary marketer.

Then along came email.

At the start, marketers referred to ‘email blasts’ as a low cost vehicle to talk to everyone, however relevant, and it was this over focus on low cost digital channels that led Marketers to lose their way. This was worsened by the arrival of social and web to the marketing landscape. 

So, when ABM came along we were interested to say the least.

It seemed that Marketers had re-realised that marketing was about segmentation and targeting, that B2B marketing in particular is really about small numbers, and that not all customers are created equal. In fact,
Pareto was quite generous with his 80/20 rule, many B2B organisations have an even more extreme 90/10 rule.

Clevertouch illustration representing ABM

The emergence of ABM technologies and Agencies.

What also caught our eye was the emergence of ABM technologies, as well as the fact that Jon Miller, a cofounder of Marketo, was pioneering the space with Engagio. Other smart, super successful and fast growth companies such as MomentumABM and Transmission sprang up and began pushing the ABM mantra massively; surely there was something in this?

The closer we looked the more we realised that ABM is necessary because it gets Sales and Marketing working much closer together with a bit of focus, and yet it is still largely a discipline centred on the segmentation and targeting of data, campaign focus and profiling, and reporting. We also predicted that ABM technology doesn’t need another new SaaS technology platform, and that most of these features will, in fact, very quickly be embedded into MA platforms themselves. MA platforms were developed and sold as the ideal platform for the nurturing and profiling (scoring) of individuals, so they are ideal for ABM.

We also thought there might be an ego thing here too - would the new Leadership team of Marketo allow Engagio sanctuary in a new category of ABM SaaS, when these could be embedded features inside the MA platforms themselves?

Fast forward to today and that is exactly what has happened. Marketo, and others, have built this technology as a feature set inside their MA platforms. Engagio is doing well, having raised considerable funds on the back of Jon’s reputation and history; but they haven’t seen the growth and traction that other marketing SaaS platforms have seen. The market is sizeable enough there is no doubt; according to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets, the ABM space for services and SaaS is set to nearly double in 5 years from $651m in 2018 to $1196 by 2023, a compound growth of 12.9%.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-ABM; we do it ourselves, it is a great discipline to focus on a top 20 and top 200 accounts, we just do it from inside the MA platform.

ABM is here to stay, but it isn’t really the game changer that truly drives Sales and Marketing Alignment. Sure, it has brought Sales and Marketing to the same table and yes a lot of activity can be attributed back to ‘ABM’, but it just isn't really enough for the Modern Marketing Leader to take to the C-suite as a game changer.

Clevertouch illustration representing sales enablement

From ABM to Sales Enablement

Clevertouch began as a Martech specialist in 2009, the first of it its kind in Europe.

Back then the Martech space comprised of less than 100 technologies, and mainly PPC technologies at that. Today there are over 8000 according to the Chief Martech blog, and many are simply technology features masquerading as companies. So, we look with considerable caution at market segments and new categories, and we reject most partnership opportunities as they typically are only looking for introductions; that is no good to us, or more importantly, our clients.


What is clear to us is that ABM is well understood and practised here in Europe, whereas Sales Enablement is still relatively new in terms of thinking and adoption.


We first discovered Sales Enablement through some well-known and respected contacts and colleagues from the MA space who had joined Seismic. We initially trod with caution, but as we saw the traction, and the fact that the market needed it, it became quite compelling. This developed to the point that we now feature Sales Enablement and Seismic as a key technology category in our Martech Spine™.

Clevertouch martech spine

So, what is Sales Enablement?

According to Highspot, another SaaS player in this space, Sales Enablement is “the strategic, ongoing process of equipping sales teams with the content, guidance, and training they need to effectively engage buyers.”

We think this is a game changer.

The ability for marketing to deliver the right content into the hands of Sales, making them more efficient, more on-message, and for Sales to learn from their successful peers is going to make the whole C-suite sit up and take note.


Sales Enablement drives alignment, productivity and focus in ways that ABM barely touches.


Productivity is key. According to a recent Forbes article, Sales spend less than 36% of their time selling because they are stuck in admin or content producing tasks. If Sales Enablement can make the sales force just 10% more efficient, 10% more on-message and 10% more successful than the impact to the business will be significant.

AlixPartners analysed the Sales, General & Administration (SG&A) spend of 1,900+ public and private companies based in the U.S. generating annual revenues of over $500 million. They found that the typical investment in SG&A was 15.2% of Sales, and cumulatively this number accounts for sales in the $trillions and ergo the potential for billions of savings.

There is little wonder then that the same research company, MarketsandMarkets, predicted the Sales Enablement market to be worth $1.1bn in 2019 and is predicting 19.9% compound growth through to 2024 where they estimate it to then be a $2.6bn marketplace.

Compare and contrast the leading vendors too.

Engagio, at the time of writing has around 80 employees, whereas Seismic, the market leader in the enterprise Sales Enablement space, has over 800 and is already one of the few SaaS companies to reach the magical ARR of $100m. In just 9 years, Seismic has become a global platform with over 600 customers.

Seismic logo

In conclusion, ABM or Sales Enablement?

Make no mistake, we are not anti-ABM.

We practice it and it makes sense, but it is simply not going to make the impact that Sales Enablement will across the business, or for careers in the boardroom. ABM is fine for B2B business, but limited; whereas Sales Enablement appeals to both B2B and B2C businesses.

The smart, ambitious Marketer and Sales Leaders knows that to really get on and to make a name for themselves inside their business, they need to be seen as commercially smart and be able to take new thinking to the current leadership of the business.

Utilising Sales Enablement is reported to have a 275% boost in lead conversions, with 65% more revenue generated by new Sales reps. This clearly demonstrates that Sales Enablement is exactly the kind of thinking ambitious leaders need to be pushing forward . 

At its most basic level, if a future leader can show the C-suite how to:

A. Make money
b. Save money
C. Provide some insight or competitive advantage that doesn’t exist today Then they will be listened to and embraced.

The thing about Sales Enablement is, it does it all. So, we encourage ambitious leaders of the future in both Sales and Marketing to see if Sales Enablement might just work for you.

For more information on how Sales Enablement might co-exist with your existing technology why not visit our Martech Spine™ methodology or please get in touch.

 Clevertouch illustration representing sales enablement


Source of references.