Account-Based Marketing Lessons Learned

Where-Cupid-Left-Bow: A little like Account-Based Marketing?Account-Based Marketing is a marketing buzzword making its rounds in headlines. While not a new concept, it is increasing in popularity and adoption. Tasked with driving the ABM project where I work, I’ve been digging into the technologies and methodologies for the last two quarters. There’s much to known and here are the lessons I’ve learned so far.

I’m Account-Based Marketing Certified! Now what?!

After a full day of DemandBase’s Account-Based Marketing (ABM) certification course at their B2B conference, I walked away with a refresh of ABM 101. If you have the opportunity to take this course, I recommend it as it outlines how to structure an 30-60-90 ABM plan, questions that need to be addressed at the organizational level, and for specific follow-up items required to make it all work.

If you want a big picture perspective on ABM and how it fits in with MarTech, read my “Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM) really the New Black?” on LinkedIn.

What is ABM, really?

It is defined by Wikipedia as “Account-based marketing (ABM), also known as key account marketing, is a strategic approach to business marketing in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Account based marketing is typically employed in enterprise level sales organizations.”

Straight-to-the-PointABM has been around since 1995, but it was more of a field marketing tactic with a few select traditional channels (e.g., live events, print ads, direct mail). Evidence that ABM is taking hold: ABM-related technology providers have grown from 150 to 4000 since 2011. So with all these choices, what are the tangible benefits?

Why consider ABM?

Per statistics shared at the DemandBase B2B conference, 91% of companies that use an ABM approach feel that it helps them to align more closely with sales.  Since Sales and Marketing teams have traditionally pointed fingers at each other when sales targets don’t materialize, this is an approach to help these teams work in tandem.

For those companies that are already using ABM, 96% are seeing success with it.  Some key gains include:

  • Greater efficiency in marketing resources for staff time and spend
  • Being proactive to attract, engage and convert top accounts rather than market to all accounts that fall into the funnel or “net” from marketing activities
  • Intelligence sharing with sales versus lead sharing.Letting a sales team member know about specific actions taken by someone at a key account not only fosters interdepartmental cooperation but an improved customer-care experience.

Convinced? Ok, let’s get the lessons learned about implementing ABM within an organization.

Getting Started

First, the sales and marketing teams need to be aligned. In reality, the organization as a whole needs to be in agreement and executive leadership must buy into the account-based everything methodology. Now that you have philosophical alignment, the next step is collaboration and consensus on the following:

  • Identifying target accounts and determine how they will be segmented
  • Establishing ABM project team and stakeholder meeting cadence
  • Setting core objectives such as average deal size, sales velocity, and close rates

From a tactical perspective, the first 30 days should focus on:

  1. Pulling reports and benchmark data on what’s currently working and what’s not
  2. Assess marketing programs and technology tools that you can leverage now and identify gaps
  3. Determine how accounts currently interact with your organization (e.g. website, webinars, etc.)
  4. Identify where leads fall out of the funnel or the conversion process stalls
  5. Inventory your current MarTech tools and other software programs needed for integration

Choosing & Working with Your ABM Partner

My advice is to get educated before you make any decisions about ABM software or partners. Each company has a different spin, strengths and methodologies.

The most important question is to ask: is it possible to have full organizational support and buy-in at the executive level? Will Marketing and Sales align? If the answers are no or not yet, you have more work to do… and it’s not related to ABM.

So what’s your next step related to Account-Based Marketing?

Photo Credit: Where Cupid Left His Bow, Straight to the Point

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