Finding and Segmenting Targets: The First Step to a Successful ABM Campaign

For your house to be stable, you need solid foundations. And in ABM, the home of your increased revenue, your foundations are target identification and segmentation.

So today, we’ll walk you through the best ways to find and segment ABM targets.

Let’s dive in!

Ground Rules for Finding ABM Targets

Every ABM campaign is different. What worked for one set of accounts won’t work for another, but in the scramble to boost revenue by 208% (ABM’s potential), proper targeting can fall by the wayside.

Stay focused by remembering the ground rules:

Know Your Campaign Goals Before You Source ABM Targets

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Get clarity on your campaign goals.

Do you want to increase your average contract value? Land new leads with higher earning potential? Build a name for your brand by collecting logos like Pokemon?

For example, we’ve worked with clients who wanted to accelerate deals with ABM, so they didn’t have to struggle with 30+ days to close a deal. Instead, they got there in 15 (or fewer).

Before you create even the first piece of ABM content, know your objectives.

prospecting and segmenting meeting

Do Your Target Accounts Fit Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

The target <-> ICP fit is a matter of sourcing quality. Ideally, it should improve as soon as you outline your goals, but it also depends on the source. 

Create your target list with your ICP criteria in mind:

  • Basic demographic & firmographic data (“Do these accounts match what we know about our ideal clients?”)
  • Qualification (“Does this company need our services right now? How do we know the time is right?”)
  • Ease of access (“Do we have a way in with the stakeholders?”)
  • Behavior (“How do our ideal clients behave? What are the common denominators between the clients who pushed our highest deal values?”)

Review your ICP through an ABM lens. You’re not looking for steady clients who will never breach your highest earning potential. 

You’re looking for the shooting stars. Focus on the less obvious patterns.

For example, you may identify that your best deals aren’t just B2B manufacturing companies operating out of China but manufacturing companies with subsidies in China, Taiwan, and the United States.

The more data you have, the easier it will be to source and segment your ABM targets. And speaking of sourcing…

Looking for help imagining your ABM campaign? Check out these account-based marketing examples.

The Top 5 Ways to Find and Segment ABM Targets (with Scenarios)

Option #1. Get Creative with Lead Databases to Identify Cold ABM Targets

Relevant campaign goals: 

  • Logo acquisition
  • Market expansion
  • Validating product-market fit
  • Increasing deal or MQL/SQL quality

First-party data is golden, but sometimes you need a lead database. Armed with the knowledge of your ICP and goals, approach sales intelligence with a new point of view.

The Best B2B Lead Databases for ABM Targets

The more data you use to filter for the targets, the better. We typically recommend the following sales intelligence platforms:

  • – Filter for targets by personas, funding, engagement activity, technologies, and more.
  • ZoomInfo – Filter by buyer intent, ICP matching, org charts, recent company news, and 


Platforms like even integrate engagement data for your existing contacts

How to Segment ABM Targets from B2B Sales Intelligence Platforms

We recommend the three-tiered ABM segmentation approach:

  • Tier 1 – Best ICP fit – The targets meet all the ICP criteria and are most likely to purchase.
  • Tier 2 – Strong ICP fit – The target meets most of the ICP criteria and is highly likely to make a purchase.
  • Tier 3 – Weakest ICP fit – The target meets more than 50% of the ICP criteria, but they’re not as likely to purchase and must be the lowest on the priority list.

Tier 3 targets can also be companies where you may get a lower deal value, but you have a way in with them. Similarly, Tier 2 could include big names.

Option #2. Mine Your First-Party Data for Profitable ABM Targets

Relevant campaign goals:

  • Accelerating deals
  • Increasing ACV or LTV
  • Increasing up-sell and cross-sell rates

If you’ve got a few diamonds in the rough (read: huge accounts still on the fence), it’s time to deploy ABM.

How to Segment CRM Targets in ABM

Mine your CRM and automation software with the buyer’s intent in mind. 

For example, filter by company size and technologies used to identify the perfect-fit targets. Then, segment them into three tiers. 

Option #3. Use Retargeting to Find and Segment ABM Targets

Relevant campaign goals:

  • Increasing LTV or retention
  • Logo acquisition

Some accounts have the potential to be your biggest ones yet, but something is preventing them from contacting your AE. Your ABM mission is to understand why.

How to Segment ABM Accounts for Retargeting

Look for usage and behavioral patterns that denote susceptibility to up-sells and cross-sells among your most valuable accounts and retarget them with ABM in mind. How you define the potential value is up to you, but some of the criteria we usually look at include the following:

  • Best ICP fit
  • Reputation
  • Technological and timing fit
  • Big buying committees and 5+ stakeholders

Option #4 – Turn Your Competitors’ Customers into Your Targets with ABM 

Relevant campaign goals:

  • Market expansion
  • Increasing deal value

Your competitors’ customers have two critical advantages for becoming your ABM targets. Firstly, you know they have a need and the budget for your products/services.

Secondly, since they’re your competitors’ customers, there’s bound to be something that’s frustrating them. Use it to your advantage in ABM campaigns and during negotiation.

There’s nothing wrong with a little competitor research / Source: Intellspot

How to Segment Your ABM Targets with Competitor Mining

In addition to the ICP fit, you’ll need robust sales intelligence to identify accounts ready to make the switch (Tier 1) and those with high potential (Tier 2).

Prioritize targets in companies where your products or services are business-critical. The stakes are higher, and the buyers are more sensitive to the value they get out of providers.

Bonus Tactic: Leverage Your Customers’ Networks

While you’re busy looking at your competitors’ customers, why not look at your customers’ competitors? 

Of course, be mindful of any exclusivity and conflict-of-interest clauses, but if your existing customers are more successful than their competitors, use it as an angle to find more target accounts that match your ICP

Option #5 – Use Social Listening to Find and Segment the Right ABM Targets

Relevant campaign goals:

  • Market expansion
  • Increasing sales velocity
  • Increasing the closed-won rate
  • Boosting your brand credibility
  • Expanding your existing account value

Become one of those businesses that’s always in the right place at the right time by finding your ABM targets based on social listening and market signals. This strategy can be as light or hard-hitting as you’d like it to be.

For example, you could set up notifications for trending news in your target accounts’ industries or on social media

Then, enrich the data with a sales intelligence tool to identify the right-fit targets. (Or use it as an angle to start new conversations with existing key accounts.)

social listening for abm segmenting
HootSuite social listening solution

Use it for anything from targeting ICPs who recently received funding or announced significant changes to the company’s positioning to staying up-to-date on key accounts you want to land or expand.

How to Segment Social Listening Targets

Your data will play the role of Tinder, matching your ABM strategists with the right-fit clients by looking at various criteria.

For example, you could create your Tier 1 list by looking at the ICP fit and the buying committee’s need alignment. If your offer satisfies the needs of different buyers on the committee and the time is right (and you should know – you read the news), prioritize those accounts.

Similarly, integrate social listening into your account expansion strategy. It’s a great way to get a foot in the door with your key accounts who haven’t been willing to increase their LTV. 

After the Rain Comes the Sun: Next Steps in ABM Segmentation

After accounts rain into your target list, it’s time to prioritize. This is often a balancing act, as you want to reduce friction to conversion (work on targets with the highest likelihood of converting) but increase deal value (work on targets who may be harder to win over).

We don’t want to be too corny, but let data become the sun to illuminate the right prospects. Rely on your sales intelligence platforms to enrich the data and show which prospects check the most boxes.

Then, choose the right ABM approach. Some targets are so important that they deserve a white-glove, one-to-one ABM service. Others can still be profitable, but their profitability potential needs to crystallize through the one-to-few or one-to-many approach.

It’s time to bring your marketing and sales teams together. Brew them great coffee, give them a list of accounts, and we promise you – their ABM collaboration will boost your revenue.

Guaranteed to make you look smarter.
(Cuz you will be.)

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