Is your sales team unable to land desirable large accounts? Are you losing business from your installed base to other vendors? Do your sales and marketing teams struggle to work together because they don’t share common goals? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to consider account-based marketing (ABM).
What is Account-Based Marketing?
At its core, ABM is essentially treating an account as a market of one. This type of ultra-targeted marketing focuses on a defined set of accounts with a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy. ABM can help companies increase account relevance, engage earlier and higher with deals, align sales and marketing, and prompt sales activity with compelling content. Companies that run effective ABM programs report a dramatic increase in long-term ROI.
The reason for ABM’s success is two-fold. First, it recognizes that in B2B sales, purchases usually span multiple departments. According to CEB Inc., 5.4 people have to formally sign off on each purchase. Each of these individuals are in a different role and have different interests and pain points that must be addressed to get their support on a purchasing decision. Second, ABM aligns sales and marketing to share in the development and execution of a seamless strategy that spans the entire sales process. In ABM, Sales and Marketing are focused on the same metrics of pipeline and close rates.
While some say that ABM is only effective for Enterprise-size companies, ABM does not need to be reserved for large companies. A key account strategy and account-based marketing program can make a difference to companies of all sizes, and can be successful if both sales and marketing are on board, and follow the five steps of an ABM program.
5 Steps of a Successful ABM Program
1. Sales: Pick Target Accounts
- Identify characteristics of key existing and/or new accounts and select those who will be targeted with an ABM strategy.
- Characteristics to consider when selecting top accounts are history of account and its revenue draw, margins and profitability, and viability for a long-term relationship with your company.
2. Sales + Marketing: Hold a Planning Session
- Once target accounts have been identified, a sales and marketing account team needs to be formed and have an account planning meeting to agree upon goals, roles, responsibilities, and timeline for each account.
- Marketing will be responsible for the development of messaging and touchpoints to prospect personas, and sales will be responsible for handling responses from target accounts to ABM activities.
3. Marketing: Develop Messaging & Select Touchpoints
- Research each account to gain a stronger understanding of it and the key players within.
- Build prospect personas and develop multi-stage messaging and content that will provide value to them.
- Select the communication platforms for each persona to get your message to them.
- A combination of traditional and digital marketing activities will create a complete engagement plan.
4. Sales + Marketing: Execute the ABM Plan
- Once content has been created and touchpoints selected, the account team will deliver on the ABM plan, all using a consistent message.
- Marketing will launch targeted ABM activities, such as campaigns, events, seminars and webinars.
- At this point, sales must be equipped with the messaging and tools needed to support the response from the accounts to your company's ABM activities.
5. Sales + Marketing: Measure & Iterate
- Use sales funnel data to analyze how personas interacted with your content, determine the success of your efforts, and continually tweak content and delivery methods to optimize ABM efforts.
- Sales and marketing should regularly meet on key accounts to review account progression to close, and share feedback to improve sales and marketing efforts.
When properly managed and executed, account planning and account-based marketing will provide your organization with revenue growth and more. Sales and Marketing will be better connected through sharing common goals, the customer experience will be improved, and buyer loyalty will increase from existing accounts.