Is Your Account-Based Marketing Program Putting the Cart Before the Horse?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is not going away anytime soon. In fact, Sirius Decisions found that 92% of B2B marketers worldwide consider ABM “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts.
It follows on the heels of marketing automation, attribution, and other core themes that are becoming increasingly important as marketing becomes more data-driven. However, all too often, a cool new feature, rather than the program’s goals and objectives, leads the tools and technology decision, giving marketers anxiety. Struck with a sense of urgency, they move forward without thinking through how their strategy should inform their decisions.
To ensure you’re not putting the cart before the horse, revisit your account-based marketing strategy for these three essentials:
1. Align Sales and Marketing
Leverage account-based marketing as the forcing function to drive better alignment between sales and marketing. ABM is an organization-wide initiative and requires buy-in from stakeholders outside of marketing. Because marketing and sales are on the front lines, you’ll need to align both teams around your goals, objectives, strategy, and metrics. Only then can your marketing campaigns and sales outreach weave a consistent story that builds the case for change.
To structure your organization for alignment, define distinct roles that set expectations for how each team will engage and close your target accounts. On the marketing side, who is responsible for generating target account leads, creating personalized content, and supporting sales during deals? Who is growing customer lifetime value through cross-sell and upsell and advocacy programs? In sales, who is outbound prospecting to target accounts and closing the deals? Between the two teams, who is monitoring service level agreements and ensuring database cleanliness?
2. Know Your Audience
In the past, account-based marketing was mainly reserved for the complex enterprise sale. Now, however, new tools and technologies have enabled organizations of any size to put account-based marketing into practice and do what you should have been doing all along.
If you’ve been running ABM programs, you should already have a pretty firm grasp on the segments your business targets, the companies in those segments, and an understanding of the buying process in those companies. How else could you be investing money and resources wisely? If you’ve overlooked this step, then it’s time to take a step back to reevaluate your strategy. Target account selections will vary across organizations, so consider the accounts that are strategically significant for your business. This includes accounts that are likely to generate more revenue, look similar to your existing customers, and/or have a business need that your solution addresses.
From there, map your accounts to different marketing personas to identify key stakeholders: decision-makers, influencers, and gatekeepers. Understand that the buyer’s journey will vary—some may not be in an active buying cycle, some are currently evaluating your solution, and many others are considering options. These people all represent future business prospects, so have some patience and establish yourself as a true partner who can uniquely solve their problem, even if they aren’t looking to solve it immediately.
3. Focus on the Right Metrics
Even when your strategy and tools are aligned, it’s difficult for marketing and sales organizations to shake that old “spray and pray” mindset where a larger volume of less qualified leads are prioritized over fewer, more qualified leads. When vanity metrics like clicks and opens are the focus of marketing status updates, you are blind to how the organization is progressing toward the goals that will actually grow your business. Metrics like penetration, engagement, and active discussions per account as well as the speed at which leads progress through the funnel provide a much clearer path to forecasting the trajectory of your ABM efforts.
This targeted ‘quality over quantity’ approach may initially result in fewer incoming leads, but you’ll gain faster close rates when you reach the right people with the right message in each target account. In fact, MarketingProfs found that companies who practice ABM generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts.
Don’t let the ABM cart get ahead of the horse. Whether you’re thinking about investing in ABM or already piloting a program, approaching it with the right strategy will help you generate more results from your efforts. If you’re interested in learning more, join me and Matt Heinz for our interactive online workshop ABM: From Strategy to Action and Results.