There’s no doubt that Account-Based Marketing is on the up-and-up. What are sales and marketing leaders saying about it? That’s what I set out to find when I presented this question to fellow industry experts:
According to a report by SiriusDecisions, 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), more than 60 percent of companies plan to invest in technology for ABM to better align sales and marketing over the next twelve months. Is ABM the Holy Grail for lead generation or just another black box solution destined to cost a lot of money, distract marketing and end up getting more bad leads to sales faster than ever before?
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept or idea. In fact, B2B sales teams have deployed versions of this go-to-market approach for years using target account-based selling to focus on specific companies they believe match their companies’ product or service value proposition. The high value, price, and/or longer sales cycle of the product or service make ABM an attractive play for B2B marketers. So why is ABM the new must-have for B2B marketers? Simply, marketing is much more involved in revenue and customer generation, and the marketing tools and available data now allow marketers to contribute in tangible ways to delivering customers within a defined set of companies.
While ABM is full of promise, there is still much to be proven and done before marketers can adopt and declare this a winning strategy for their business. Here are 4 things that must happen or change to increase the success of an ABM program.
1) Marketing must lock arms with sales and have a solution selling mindset. You can’t just “align marketing and sales.” You have to bear hug sales. Marketers must fully integrate with their sales colleagues combining data and processes to:
- Profile and prospect the right companies and the right decision makers (beyond personas—the actual people) within those companies.
- Develop and deliver an integrated, cross-channel communications plan.
- Have open, regular dialogue with sales and stakeholders on what’s working and what’s not to quickly adapt their joint efforts. What really accelerates this is getting out from behind your desk and hitting the road to meet with your best prospects.
2) Immediately increase the targeting, data intelligence, and account knowledge skills, tools and techniques required for this effort. Using email and nurture through your ole “reliable” marketing automation system to nurture within an account is not an ABM strategy. Neither is using advertisements to target and retarget a group of people because they work at a company and came to your web site. Rather a successful ABM strategy needs an integrated, holistic approach using both company and target buyer data profiles and intelligence that can be personalized across multiple channels that the buying personas at targeted accounts frequent and engage with. Then following through with clear integration to sales outreach and activities from engagement to close.
3) Get personal fast because companies don’t buy anything, people do. You can target companies and domain/IP addresses all day long to send messages, content offers, etc. This approach alone won’t get the job done on a sustainable basis because this account targeting strategy becomes all about the company and little about the individuals who influence and make the buying decisions. For example, say you are targeting American Express as part of your ABM strategy. There are hundreds of thousands of employees at AMEX. Your product is only targeted for DevOps and IT, a fraction of the numbers you are looking for in all of AMEX. You must be able to target not just by company, but by roles, titles, personas and identifiable, specific people based on engagement behavior.
4) Customer data standardization is critical for ABM. From your demand generation systems through to your marketing automation and CRM platforms, you should have a standard customer ID and customer ID process that will ensure coordination of all channels. This starts with the consolidation and integration of your systems and data, making sure you have the talent and know-how to standardize key data points and formats, and knowing how to deploy it all. Then you are ready to deliver a personal, targeted engagement plan that will create new advocates and customers within your target accounts.
There are several areas I’m really glad Scott highlighted in his answer.
1. “Using email and nurture through your ole ‘reliable’ marketing automation system to nurture within an account is not an ABM strategy. Or using advertisements to target and retarget a group of people because they work at a company and came to your web site is not a strategy.” [I could not agree more!]
2. “This needs an integrated, holistic approach using both company and target buyer data profiles and intelligence that can be personalized across multiple channels that the buying personas at targeted accounts frequent and engage with.” [Again, Scott hits the nail on the head and warns against what I think are the greatest dangers in companies moving toward ABM.]
3. “You must be able to target not just by company, but by roles, titles, personas and identifiable, specific people based on engagement behavior.” [The most important of this is specific people based on engagement behavior.]
I have to compliment Scott on doing a great job of identifying ABM pitfalls and presenting a very balanced approach to the role of strategy, process and automation in the ABM Eco structure.
Topics: Account-Based Marketing