Account-based marketing (ABM) continues to be a trending topic for B2B organizations in 2019. It is one of the hottest topics in digital marketing, but it has been around for years. Although notoriously analog in its previous life, ABM has evolved into a significant component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. It is “old news” for some, but ABM does not seem to be going away any time soon.
You have heard the term but may still be wondering what it is and if your organization could actually benefit from it. In this article, we will explore what ABM is, who benefits from it, and pose a few questions to ask yourself in the quest to figure out whether or not ABM is right for your company.
According to Sirius Decisions, account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that aligns resources against a set of defined accounts and goals in a way that is relevant and valuable to those accounts.
What this means is that instead of beginning with a set of marketing channels to create campaigns and target accounts, an ABM strategy begins with identifying and targeting “best fit” accounts that have the greatest revenue potential for the organization. Marketers still use technology and platforms to deliver personalized messaging on marketing channels the decision makers actively use, but for ABM this activity is complemented by personal, one-on-one sales outreach to the decision makers.
For ABM to work well, sales and marketing must work together to identify, target and service the accounts. They also have to align on a multichannel approach that will lead to conversions and enhance the customer experience. You are most likely incorporating some account-based marketing elements into your marketing strategy already, and if you are not, you should definitely consider it. The exact approach to ABM will differ from company to company, but here are a few things that are common to all ABM strategies:
1. Alignment of the sales and marketing teams
2. Personalized messaging that targets specific account needs and business challenges
3. Identification of communications channels
4. Evaluation of sales and messaging effectiveness
5. Analysis of the account data that will identify the accounts that are the best fit for ABM
While ABM is every marketer’s favorite buzzword right now, it might not be the right approach for all businesses. For some organizations, casting a wider net to its large, addressable target market makes the most sense. If you want to know whether account-based marketing is the right approach, the first step to figuring this out is to bring all key internal stakeholders to the table. You need key leaders from sales, marketing, demand generation, and sales operations to begin with. Next, walk through these 10 questions to further evaluate the possibility of an ABM strategy.
1. Does your company have a B2B sales organization?
ABM focuses on accounts, not markets or industries.
2. Is your addressable market limited?
Instead of relying on far-reaching campaigns that bring in a large number of leads, ABM focuses on those prospects that are most likely to buy.
3. Do you have a large average deal size?
ABM works well for enterprise and high-value accounts that require more attention and time.
4. Does your organization value the quality of leads and accounts over the quantity?
ABM is not about the number of leads you can generate. It is about engaging and building relationships with the right people at the right accounts.
5. Is your sales cycle long?
Long sales cycles could cause prospects to lost interest. ABM warms leads and captures valuable information along the buyer’s journey that helps to shorten the sales cycle and increase deal amounts.
6. Are there typically several buyers in a purchase decision?
Different departments manage different parts of an enterprise deal. Seven is the typical number of buyers and influencers actively involved.
7. Are customers demanding a personalized B2B sales experience?
A younger generation is joining the ranks of business decision makers and they have been exposed to best-in-class user experiences. They want those same experiences no matter where they are and who they are dealing with.
8. Is there a high potential for cross- or up-sell opportunities?
Using ABM to focus on a target set of accounts allows you see more opportunities in those accounts as your time is freed from lower potential ones.
9. Does the sales team already focus on a small number of target accounts?
ABM has existed in many forms that some may not have even considered to be ABM.
10. Is it a priority to align sales, marketing and service for specific accounts?
You cannot effectively manage an account when sales, marketing and service are not aligned and are operating in silos.
If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, further exploring ABM for your organization is highly recommended. If you answer yes to all 10 of them, ABM is a must. The benefits of ABM stretch much farther than the marketing and sales teams. Done right, account-based marketing is a holistic approach to lead and revenue generation. It flips the traditional marketing funnel on its head and begins with the businesses that are the best fit, instead of dealing with tons of low-quality leads that will never convert. Every business is different, but if ABM is right for you, get started today!
Learn more about how to use personalization and hyper-relevancy to win over more accounts with the Account-Based Marketing Handbook.
Nedra Hutton is a Customer Success Director for Verticurl, a global marketing technology agency. She helps enterprise organizations develop and execute MarTech strategies that are both aligned with business goals and focused on the customer. Nedra is a highly accomplished strategist and leader who understands the challenges faced by businesses, large and small, in the current marketing climate and uses her experience to help businesses make well-informed decisions regarding their MarTech strategy.