It’s not too late to catch the ABM train – Relationship One


It is true that many organizations have taken a few steps in their Account Based Marketing (ABM) journey. But, if you have not incorporated account-based programs into your marketing strategies, it’s not too late.

ABM is a coordinated workflow across the entire life cycle of a set of accounts. Selling shifts from chasing leads to an account structure where accounts and key buyers are prioritized. To succeed with ABM, you need to closely align marketing and sales. The lead gen approach, where marketing passes leads to sales, changes to sales and marketing coordinating on the same targeted accounts. Sales must know how to respond when target accounts generate signals including who to contact, what to say, what content to provide.

This close alignment makes it critical to have buy-in from sales from the very beginning. Identify your sales champions who will play integral roles in defining the named accounts, piloting the program, and sharing their wins.

While ABM is more complicated than lead-focused marketing, rest assured that, at the end of the day, you will continue marketing to individuals, and people will still make purchase decisions. The strategy is new. The tactics you know.

Develop the Key Accounts List

ABM is about identifying a list of accounts and then very specifically targeting those accounts in marketing and sales. Your first steps are:

  1. Develop the Ideal Customer Profile
  2. Identify and agree on list of target accounts
  3. Put the accounts into tiers
  4. Pilot and then scale

Marketing and sales must mutually identify and agree to the target list. This should not be sales submitting their list of key accounts. It is a data-driven process to select the accounts you can best serve and have the propensity to purchase from you.

Work together to develop a set of objective criteria to determine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), a description of the company that is the perfect fit for your solution. Characteristics can include size of account, industry, geography, technographic data and so on.

Once you have determined your profile, build the list. You may need to depend on both internal and third-party data to complete profiles for your accounts.

The next step is to rank the accounts and assign them to tiers based on propensity to buy. Each tier dictates a level of personalization for campaigns. The higher the tier, the less accounts each rep should be servicing.

  • Tier 1. 1:1
  • Tier 2. 1:few
  • Tier 3. 1:many

Tiering will fluctuate over time as accounts move into the win/lose columns. Other accounts will bubble to the top as they show readiness signals. Lead scoring programs can measure intent and engagement along with fit to determine tier placement.

Conduct a Pilot Program

As with any program you launch, clearly define the goals for your ABM pilot and quantify how you will measure success. Be sure the sales and marketing teams are focused on the same goal. Initially look for the small wins and the revenue will follow. Early measurements might be number of meetings set, engaged accounts, or accounts in each sales stage. Later, you can measure total revenue won, new accounts won, and current customer accounts.

Select enough accounts for your pilot program that allow you to uncover patterns in the activity. The pilot accounts should reflect average deals. Omit high-risk accounts or outliers that might skew the data.

Keep your programs simple. Start with 1-4 channels. Email is still seen as the most impactful ABM channel, as marketers are able to engage their target accounts at scale.

Regularly update your stakeholders. Plan to have the sales team members highlight the wins as you go. Do not wait to the end of the campaign to evaluate how it went. Monitor the programs so that you can course correct as needed.

Once the program is complete, gather feedback.

  • Determine the overall success based on the final metrics.
  • Identify what drove the most value and drop what didn’t perform.
  • Capture the challenges.
  • Assess what systems and skill gaps might limit scaling the program.

While referred to as Account Based Marketing, it is a holistic approach for sales and marketing. Account Based Strategy more accurately reflects the process.

If you need help developing your Account Based Strategy, Relationship One’s Strategists are always here to help.

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