As a marketer, data has become a common language and those who do not understand the basics of data-backed insights and measurement might as well be living in an era when marketing was the Art Department.

We are told that ABM is all about data. The science and the skill in mining and sifting to find those coveted nuggets, those kernels of truth.  But is it?  I’d say ABM first and foremost is about people and all the little and not-so-little things that motivate us to think, perceive, feel and act in certain ways.

I recently attended one of SiriusDecisons’ ABM events in the Bay area.  In addition to the exceptional case studies and best practices, I found a whole lot of humanity intermingled between the science. Tools may help us create impactful ABM, but when faced with the challenge of crafting a distinctively human narrative, they become a little redundant. Yes, there’s a necessity for the science of ABM, but mostly it’s about people and how best to tap into their emotions.

As ABMer’s, we all know that sales and marketing alignment is mission critical but are we aligned on what this means? SiriusDecisions’ VP of research, Megan Heuer shared an interesting observation – after interviewing hundreds of B2B buyers, nearly all of them want an equal balance of sales and marketing support throughout ‘every stage’ of their buying journey. A fifty-fifty split between the emotional tugs versus the logical pushes.

This observation seems to break the conventional wisdom of the purchase funnel where sales owns the last mile of conversion. From an ABM perspective, I’m a believer in this statistic. Here’s why. A successful ABM strategy is one that progressively changes the sales conversation to something highly influenced by marketing, with a higher degree of personalization, commercial relevance and emotional impact.  In other words, as the buyer journey progresses, sales people become ‘as one’ with their ABM marketing peers. And the conversation is both emotionally evocative as well as rational and ‘business-like’.

Many ABMer’s are saying, and I tend to agree, that a new era of B2B buying has descended upon us.  No longer does the CTO or CFO alone hold all the keys.  Major technology buying decisions are now made by an average of (9) stakeholders – and the buying center has emerged as the ABM focal point. I can’t decide whether this makes ABM harder or easier. Either way, this realty is one more dimension that underscores the focus on people and all the little and not-so-little things that separate truly exceptional ABM from something that feels more like a science experiment.

Power to the people.