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ABM Success: What You Need to Know

Published on January 28, 2019
Marketing | Sales |

Are you not satisfied with the success of your account based marketing strategy?

Do you have the right strategy set in place to reap the benefits of account-based marketing?

Account-based marketing has become a buzzworthy term in recent years. While almost none of the prominent marketing firms in the industry will dispute its importance.

There are many sales and marketing organizations that are currently struggling to execute ABM. Many of whom are citing the lack of understanding their target audience as the main challenge.

What is ABM?

Account-based marketing is an interesting and intriguing approach for sales and marketing. It is actually transforming the way the industry works. ABM targets portfolios with your brand content. All based on consumer demand, content relevant to their main points and needs is marketed.

ABM success is dependent on shifting your focus from targeting a lot of leads to instead targeted accounts. These are very specific to organization and companies that are the best possible fit for the products and services you offer.

In this strategy, each account is treated as a separate market and has a strategy that is tailored to their demands and needs. ABM shines due to its enabling businesses to target a large number of industries. With the help of identifying ideal customer profile and segmentation, firms can target many leads all at once.

This ensures that the right content reaches the right audience. This alone requires extensive research and a lot of data to be done properly. This is the most important step in account-based marketing. Without it, there is no way of knowing the right targeted accounts and the right material to pitch them with.

How ABM works?

Many firms still struggle with ABM success. This is because some firms are simply not doing it right. Here are some suggested steps to guide you along the way to successful account-based marketing.

Identification

The first and most basic step to create an account-based marketing strategy is to identify the targeted accounts. This will help in identifying which product and services should be marketed to targeted accounts. Which provides your business with a more thought-out approach to marketing.

It is also important at this point for you to have a clear idea of what type of customers you need for your business. If not, then it is a good time for you to make a list of your most relevant customers and study them to find out key similarities amongst them.

Find out the key variable that makes these accounts your targeted accounts and then try to identify this variable in other accounts as well. Once this is done now identify the decision makers in each account and try to build on a strategy to approach them.

Data collection

The second stage involves data collection. As discussed before, account-based marketing depends heavily on analytics and to do that you must rely on extensive and accurate data.

The more data you have the more you will be able to better target your accounts. Collect as much data as possible but do not compromise on data relevancy. Data must pertain to the following of the targeted accounts:

  • Needs and their interests
  • The needs of their products and services
  • Their forward/backward linkages
  • Along with any data that helps you to better personalize the way you approach them.

Further segmentation

Moving on to the next step. After identifying the targeted group, you must further segment the groups. The segmented groups will allow you to pitch similar services within a group. Segmentation is an important step to ensure a personalized approach and targeted campaigns.

Accounts can be segmented on the basis of many things, including:

  • Business needs and strategies
  • Firmographics
  • Business interests and so on

This helps in the creation of content that the customer will not deem as spam. Creating personalized pitches will provide your targeted accounts with a unique experience. It will be more convincing for them to make the switch to you with such a marketing tactic.

Content personalization for your targeted audience

With segmentation done the next step is to develop content that caters to the needs of the accounts. So, you must ensure that the key points of your target accounts are being addressed.

To make interaction with these accounts meaningful you should send them specific content that better addresses the problems that they may be facing. Track their behavior on your website and send automatic responses based on their specific actions.

Have the right leader in place

To ensure ABM success, you must first ensure you have the right people in place. You need to have the right leader to guide the team to ensure your strategy runs smoothly.

It doesn’t matter where you find the leader, be it in-house or external.

You do need to make sure that they have certain skills to be effective. This will also ensure that the program runs successfully.

Hiring a good fit for the position will be a key move towards ABM success. As you are looking for possible candidates look for strong, experienced and skilled individuals. Whatever you do, never underestimate the soft skills that will fuel this person’s ability to rally troops to drive ABM success.

Sales and marketing alignment

Indeed, account-based marketing is a successful game changer, but we usually see sales to push back against this change. It is predictable since effectively the sales department is being asked to work with fewer leads and that kind of change can be undesirable.

However, this is not only holding the marketing team back but also holding the sales team back.

ABM success requires input from all across the organization. It only works with the cooperation of the entire organization. If your organization has not implemented an account-based strategy than that just means that the competition is ahead of you in the game.

In order for you to put in place such a strategy, you must first ensure that the marketing and sales department are on the same page with ABM.

Though sales and marketing alignment is important for any organization but to make the most out of your ABM this alignment is crucial. Profits have shown to increase when the alignment happens.

Companies with solid alignment have experienced 36 percent higher customer retention, 38 percent higher sales and leads are 67 percent more likely to become clients.

What should your metrics look like for ABM success?

This topic in itself is so large and complicated that it deserves its own book. When you are focusing on an account-based marketing strategy you put emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

As mentioned before, while information on leads and opportunities are vital for ABM success, they are not enough for ABM success.

To ensure ABM success there are specified metrics you need that are better suited to this discipline. Since Account-based marketing is a new and fundamentally different approach we need to move away from traditional metrics.

Instead, move towards more accounts- centric metric measurements. The more complex a product, the more complex metrics are required. The metrics provide more insights into the company and the accounts can be dealt with in more detail.

There has been a recent shift resulting in a 24 percent increase in sales cycles, which is mainly because of a shift towards an account based marketing approach being applied to sales and marketing departments. This coupled with complex analysis associated with the approach and the need to understand account-based marketing’s influence explains the longer sales cycles.

That is why engagement matters. By tracking how accounts engage with your approach can help you adapt a process that will be more fruitful. This is for both you and your clients. To better explain the above points here are some examples of the metrics that should be used in order to ensure that there is ABM success.

✅ First comes coverage, how many contacts do you have in the targeted account?

✅ Second is awareness, do the contacts at the target account know who you are and what you have to offer?

✅ Third engagement, are your contacts in touch with you? Are your contacts in touch with your brand?

✅ Fourth is the reach, how many contacts are the right fit for you?

✅ Finally, impact, are your efforts in maintaining your relationship with your contacts running an impact on your sales?

Be relevant and get personal – here’s what that looks like

In account-based marketing strategy, you will still have to go door to door but the only difference is this time you are not doing it purely cold. This strategy is based on doing your homework and learning as much as you can about your target accounts before you move on to approaching them.

The purpose of this is that you need to first maximize your understanding and your relevance to those accounts.

With the advent of marketing and sales automation, representatives of respective departments have some advantages. They can blast similar accounts with cold sales emails.

This has led to the concept of spamming, which is now massively reducing and harming the reputation of sales representatives all around the globe. This leads us to the statement that there is a huge difference between customization and personalization.

Customization is simply using very basic variables to make the targeted accounts feel more connected. For example, you are just filling in the name and company customs to your already made pitch.

The pitch, in general, will remain the same for every company. However, in personalization, you not only do what is done in customization. But also cater your pitch to say something which is very relevant and specific to the targeted account. It is the closest to one to one human interaction.

Also, to note that the technology of automation in itself does not make a pitch personalized. The technology only gets you halfway there. It enables you to customize emails in bulks before sending them out to targeted accounts.

This is only half of the equation the other half of it is to add the human element to it, which no automated computer in the world can do. So, a combination of both customization and personalization is needed to ensure ABM success.

Reach buyers earlier

All the above points come together to result in this. Personalized, to the point and contextual contents increase the chances of conversion. When your targeted accounts receive content directed towards them that addresses their problems. They will be more likely to shift to your products and services.

In the era of technological connectedness, everything is fast-paced.

The matter of getting the client first is merely based on the fact that who engages the buyer first. Roughly the process of account-based marketing takes almost an identical amount of time for all of the firms in a single industry. So the decision-making factor for your ABM’s success becomes “reaching the buyer earlier than the competition”.

The way forward

Apart from these, there are plenty of other challenges to ensure ABM success. There need to be senior level officers from each of the departments namely, sales, marketing, and finance. While the three departments are on board the need for IT does not diminish.

IT needs to be on board to help better integrate the communication process for ABM success. On the other hand, all of the departments need to work together and look towards true north for ABM success.

To summarize, for ABM success, marketers need to plan, evaluate, execute, breathe and repeat.

 

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