Account-based marketing (or ABM) allows you to coordinate personalized marketing and sales efforts that help you land and expand within target accounts. Throughout my time as the CEO of a business-to-business (B2B) engagement platform, I’ve observed that account-based marketing is gaining more and more traction. And when you look at the most successful ABM practitioners, a pattern emerges.
In this post, I want to focus on the top three things those practitioners are doing and how you can get started doing them, too:
Focusing On Key Accounts
In B2B deals, companies sell to accounts, not single buyers. After all, sales reps close accounts, not people.
That’s why it’s important to start with a targeted list of accounts. Rather than trying to market and sell to anyone and everyone, when you focus on a key set of accounts, marketing teams can drive larger deals and better economies of scale.
To build the target list, marketing teams should work with sales to define their ideal customer profile (ICP), a set of criteria that helps to refine a universe of possible targets down to only those that are most likely to buy and drive a strong lifetime value. This collaboration is important, as it ensures buy-in from both teams.
Using Intelligence And Measurement At Accounts
With the target account list identified, the second key factor to success with an ABM initiative is finding a unique way to approach measurement to align with your account focus.
First, you need to understand account coverage, or how many viable contacts for these target accounts exist in your marketable database. Lead records are historically owned by marketing and do not roll up to accounts in most customer relationship management systems. This divide is also reflected in the current marketing automation systems. The risk of unmatched contacts manifests itself in incorrect routing and scoring, a disruption to the customer’s experience and poor reporting.
To bridge this gap, some ABM practitioners deploy lead-to-account matching technology within their CRM databases to understand which individual contacts belong to which target accounts. If you go this route, ensure you track engagement. In other words, look at how all potential buyers at target accounts interact with both marketing and sales touches.
Engagement is key for teams to measure, as it indicates that prospects and customers are more committed to the relationship. It also shows increasing likelihood to purchase, renew or advocate.
Share this intelligence across the entire revenue team for a common perspective on how an account is performing. This helps warm up new territories when the revenue team identifies trending engagement, as they continue to hire sales representatives against aggressive growth targets. By accelerating the ramp-up of these new sales hires and new territories, you are more apt to successfully expand your global sales team by several-fold with fast and efficient ramp periods.
Tiering And Prioritizing Accounts
All target accounts are not created equal, and it’s important to prioritize accordingly. This is a challenge when companies are supporting thousands of target accounts, many times with a single ABM program manager, and multiple sales reps.
The key is tiering. Rather than try to treat all accounts equally with the same messaging, campaigns or resource allocation, identify top tier-one accounts, and assign the rest to tier two.
Tier-one accounts get bespoke attention, fully customized plans and deep research. After all, these accounts represent the highest potential value for your business. Have the ABM program manager work closely with sales to tailor messages and deliver highly customized one-to-one programs (i.e., one person engaging with one person on the target account’s team) for each of the representative’s top 10 accounts. These efforts could span channels such as ads, direct mail, live events and more. Tools are available to automate interactions across these multiple channels.
Tier-two accounts don’t get the same level of customization as tier-one accounts, and they should get one-to-few campaigns. This creative content-based sales play provides one-pagers that directly speak to the challenges buyers face in this scenario. This type of highly defined, yet programmatic play drives success at operationalizing and delivering ABM at scale.
These three steps focused on targeting the right accounts can put B2B companies on their way to scale marketing and sales in order to meet — or exceed — aggressive company growth goals.