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The ABM Advantage: How It Can Transform Your Partner Recruitment Efforts

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As a partner manager, your success heavily relies on your ability to recruit new partners and expand your business. 

But in today’s crowded market, simply putting your program out there won’t guarantee results. 

You need to have a strategy that sets you apart from the competition and gets you noticed. 

That’s where Account Based Marketing (ABM) comes into play. 

While ABM is commonly associated with direct sales, it can also be a game-changer for partner recruitment. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what ABM is, its benefits in partner recruitment, and provide you with a comprehensive 5-step guide on how to use ABM to recruit new partners and scale your partner program successfully. 

Whether you’re a new partner program looking to grow or an established partner program looking to scale this blog will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to take your recruitment efforts to the next level.

What is ABM?

Before detailing its applicability to partnership recruitment, it’s important to first explain what Account Based Marketing is.

ABM is a marketing strategy that focuses on targeting defined accounts or companies that are thought to be your ideal customer.

The way that ABM differs from a traditional cold outreach approach, where traditionally sales teams send a number of generic cold emails and messages to target customers,  is that ABM campaigns are characterized by the time taken to develop customized campaigns that are tailored specifically to those identified accounts.

ABM takes more time to get set up, but also has a higher chance of reaching your targeted audience due to the care and attention taken to write specific messaging and content that is likely to be interesting to your target audience.

The overall reason that companies opt for an account based marketing strategy is to create a strategy that delivers a more efficient and effective marketing approach, that results in a higher ROI for the business.

What applicability does ABM have in partnerships? 

Although ABM is more common to the direct side of the business, it can still play an important part in the indirect side of the business, specifically when applied to new partner recruitment.

Chances are, your program is looking for new partners.

Whether you are a new partner program looking to get your program off and running, or a more established partner program looking to scale further, new partners are needed.

In order to get new partners you need to recruit partners effectively.

In a similar way that ABM can be an effective strategy to recruit net new customers, when done well it can also be an effective way to recruit new partners to your program.

In this next session learn they key ingredients needed to create a great ABM strategy which can be used to recruit new partners and scale your partner program

5 step guide on using ABM to recruit new partners

Understandably, at this point, you are probably thinking, how can I as a partner manager master a technique usually run by full blow marketers?

Luckily for you, we have pulled together 5 best practices that if followed can have you using account based marketing in no time.

To do so, we partnered with Blake Williams, CEO at an Ampfactor, an agency that helps companies use ABM to drive revenue. 

Let’s begin.

Understand your partner profile

With any good ABM campaign the starting point is to refine an audience that you are targeting. 

This is the most important part of any ABM campaign, as it underpins the entire strategy and determines the success of the campaign. Without a clear understanding of the target audience, it’s difficult to create the personalized messaging and tailored campaigns that are the hallmarks of effective ABM. 

This is where having a refined ideal partner profile comes in handy.

Read more: Chanel Recruitment Best Practices »

With any partner program you should have an ideal partner profile mapped out, which outlines the type of partner which represents the best fit for your organization.

Blake Williams of Ampfactor adds that “an additional thing that companies need to consider is unit economics, namely the fact that your ideal partner profile should also include factors such as the amount of revenue they are likely to generate, based on company size and accounts they sell into”

He also adds that an ideal partner profile should be so specific that instead of “throwing out a net to recruit partners, you should have such a detailed partner profile that your recruitment efforts are like spear fishing”.

Once you have reached a consensus on what your ideal partner profile should look like, you are now ready for step two.

Create a list

Your ideal partner profile should give you an outline of what a good partner should look like.

The next step is to collate a list of company names that closely align with this profile.

Once you have a comprehensive list of company names, you need to break that down even further and identify specifically who at these companies you are trying to reach out to.

With partnerships the likelihood is that the people you are trying to contact are partnership leaders, either at VP or Director level. 

However, Blake mentions that another tip is to create a list that encapsulates their whole partner organization including more junior managers, that way if the senior leaders don’t respond to your eventual message, you can start to target junior members of the team, in order to build a cohort of champions that can fight your corner, and eventually get you in front of the right people. 

Blake, also mentions that best practice would be to purify lists that you pull from tools like ZoomInfo, but cross referencing emails against LinkedIn to ensure that the people/ emails you have are accurate.

Develop the creative

Once you have devised your partner centric messaging, that will be compelling to your prospective partners, now comes the fun part.

You are now at the stage of building out the assets that will be used to attract partners.

As mentioned above, ABM is all about highly focused and targeted campaigns so there will be different creative and strategies that will need to be devised in order to target different sets of partners.

Blake Williams of Ampfactor says that a good tactic is “tier partners, grouping them into tier 1/2/3”.

From these tiers he then suggests running different creative strategies to each of them, here is what Blake suggested:

Tier 3 (lower value)- Programmatic display ads for awareness, and outbound email.

Tier 2 (medium value)- Build out relevant content, or video content that is applicable to these partners and redirect them to it.

Tier 1 (High value)- White glove experience, personalized video, or 1:1 campaigns.

There are many good examples in the direct marketing world of 1:1 ABM campaigns, Gum Gums campaign that was developed for one customer, T-Mobile is a good example of this;

Gum Gum is the maker of  a contextual intelligence platform that can scan text, images, videos, and audio, and they wanted T-mobile as a customer.

They quickly realized that John Legere, the ex-CEO of T-mobile was a big comic book fun, and therefore came up with a custom comic book which featured him in it.

The result was a meeting, which resulted in them closing T-Mobile as a customer, they also got a shout out on social media?

For those Tier 1, gold star partners, get creative.

Find out information about things they like, or hobbies they have and create campaigns that are guaranteed to pique their interest.

👉 Bonus tip 👈

A bonus tip that Blake Williams of Ampfactor put forward is to use the power of “dark social” in order to get in front of your ideal partners.

Tap into your network of contacts, and ask for an introduction to a key stakeholder at the prospective partners.

Relationships are key, and this doesn’t differ when trying to recruit new partners.

An introduction from someone they trust is likely to deliver more impact than any amount of advertising budget.

Test and iterate

The final part of launching a successful ABM campaign to recruit partners, is to be sure to track success of campaigns, in order to iterate in the future.

With any investment into demand generation, even if it is to recruit partners, you should be constantly monitoring which activities are yielding the best results and which are not performing as well. 

For example if you are investing money into LinkedIn ads, and these aren’t performing well, you should either reevaluate the target audience you are trying to reach or take a look at the ad copy itself, instead of plowing more money into the initiative and not seeing an uptick in results.

Although not typical metrics to track for those in partnerships, if deciding ABM is the strategy you are going to use to recruit, you need to look at things such as conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and eventually, the revenue generated from those signed partners to evaluate whether the investment in ABM has been worthwhile.

With any investment into demand generation, even if it is to recruit partners, you should be constantly monitoring which activities are yielding the best results and which are not performing as well.

What benefits can you expect from using ABM to recruit partners?

The steps above give you a playbook to run, if looking to weave ABM into your partner recruitment strategy.

How can you tell if you have done it well?

What are the benefits you can expect from recruiting partners through ABM?

Luckily, we have you covered.

Greater efficiency

The current way in which you are recruiting partners most likely involves either buying a list or downloading a mass list of contacts across all the partners you have earmarked as “good” partner profiles.

You are then using employees in the form of SDRs, to run cold email campaigns, and cold calling in order to get them on the phone.

That entire process follows the “spray and pray” approach which tries to do a lot at scale.

The issue with this method is that you have to repeat it again, and again in order to gain any traction, taking up a lot of time and energy.

With an ABM campaign, you are taking time to specifically target those partners you have identified that are “quality” and then running specific activities that they will find compelling.

It takes a little more up front effort to prepare but in the end proves to be far more effective as you are likely to get a higher response rate and spend less overall time.

Higher quality partners

When running an ABM campaign, one of the main components that we mentioned above, is the “pre-work”.

This pre-work involves really understanding your partner profile, as the investment in marketing budget usually requires some sort of executive sign off.

The additional scrutiny puts more of an onus on partner teams to really nail who they are going to target.

The result of this however, is a higher quality of partner being recruited into your program.

Instead of going far and wide, and recruiting partners that “might” be a good fit, which ultimately results in minimal revenue, and a stressed partner team, you are able to become laser focused in your partner recruitment efforts, resulting in an overall higher quality of partner.

Better segmentation in your PRM

To optimize the experience of partners using a PRM solution like Allbound, it’s crucial to segment and tier them appropriately

Adopting an ABM approach to partner recruitment enables you to pre-segment partners and streamline the process of granting them access to your PRM.

 For instance, if you’ve recently brought on board several “Tier 3” or lower-potential partners, you may not assign them a dedicated partner manager right away. 

In this case, granting them access to your PRM can allow them to familiarize themselves with your product and program while you focus on the higher-potential “Tier 1” partners identified through your ABM efforts.


In conclusion, Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a highly effective marketing strategy that is not just restricted to direct sales but can also be applied to recruit net new partners. 

The central thesis of ABM in the way that it targets defined accounts is an ideal way to recruit new partners for your program.

Current recruitment methods that involve email blasts and LinkedIn messages are inefficient and have low response rates.

With ABM you are able to create campaigns that are applicable to your target partner that are more likely to capture their attention, but also do a better job of explaining the potential value of partnering together.

Overall, even though ABM involves a large investment upfront it turns out to be more economically efficient in the long run, as you are recruiting better partners that are more likely to contribute meaningful revenue to your program instead of a long list of partners using traditional methods that waste your team’s time, and don’t add value to your program.

To find out more about how to use ABM for your partner recruitment efforts, reach out to the team at AmpFactor.

For more content on partnerships, find more in our blog or tune into the “Partner Channel” podcast.

Ali Spiric

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