A Demandbase survey found that “71% of B2B organizations are either using [Account Based Marketing], interested in adopting the strategy or are testing it.” Account Based Marketing (ABM) is clearly a strategy many organizations are implementing to improve their selling.
But, what is Account Based Marketing? ABM as it currently stands has many different definitions. Marketo defines ABM as a “strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts and employs personalized campaigns.” Engagio says ABM “creates hyper-personalized interactions . . . that enable sales and marketing teams to land more accounts.”
While these definitions are certainly true of ABM, the discipline encompasses many more concepts, practices, and processes than meets the eye.
ABM is an approach that incorporates a wide variety of marketing and sales ideas to focus efforts on a carefully selected list of target accounts. Account Based Marketing isn’t a single component of Sales or Marketing, but rather a strategy that integrates with every effort in both areas.
What Account Based Marketing Means for Sellers
The concept of focusing intently on one target in the hopes of closing a deal isn’t foreign to the vast majority of sellers. Research, outreach, and utilizing Marketing content are all part of the standard Sales playbook. But those tactics are generally being deployed on leads and prospects that are the result of Marketing generated leads or Inside Sales work. Account Based Marketing finds Sales – much like Marketing – deploying tactic and techniques that are familiar to them, but configured in a different way.
Prospecting is clearly a necessity in the Sales world. It’s impossible to sell without having someone to sell to. However, in a traditional Sales environment prospecting can very quickly become a time sink – without the guarantee of anything in return. The B2B Lead found “as much as 50% of [Sales’] time is spent on unproductive prospecting.”
Account Based Marketing eases the burden on Sales by utilizing Marketing to provide in-depth account research that includes a detailed map of key stakeholders and decision-makers. Instead of wasting time scouring the internet for clues and insights about an organization, a full picture of the targeted account is available based on Marketing’s research. Armed with this information up-front at the beginning of the process Sales is able to hit the ground running.
Getting off on the right foot is the key to any Sales encounter, but even more so when it comes to ABM. When embarking on a prolonged and intense pursuit of a specific account it’s imperative to enter conversations with proper knowledge about the hierarchy and makeup of the organization. With a clear understanding of the organization within the account Sales can begin planning the best strategies to engage with decision-makers.
Tailored Account Penetration with Custom Content
Sales needs to be tactical when it comes to touchpoints in an ABM approach. Determining who will be contacted, when they’ll be engaged, and through what channel requires close collaboration – not only among the Sales team but also with Marketing. Leads are no longer handed off like a baton in a relay race, ABM is a team effort from beginning to end.
When Sales is attempting to engage the identified key players at an account Marketing provides support that maximizes time and interactions. By providing hyper-personalized content that speaks directly to the needs of prospects, Marketing gives Sales a leg-up in creating genuine connections.
Content like emails, case studies, presentations, and eBooks that have been personalized are much more likely to resonate with a prospect – and signal that you take their wants and needs seriously. Marketo reports that “67% of prospects value content created for their specific job functions.”
As both teams work an account there will be a free-flow of information that goes both ways. Insights gleaned from interactions and engagements will provide opportunities to further refine and improve strategies.
Statistics about content is one area where Sales has generally not paid much attention. What pieces of content someone reads, how long they read, or what sections they paid attention to, are not traditionally taken advantage of in a lead gen setting. (They can be tough to get a hold of, even if Sales wanted to – Aberdeen reports that only 27% of B2B marketers track content utilization statistics.) Perhaps besides a cursory mention about a piece of content a prospect read in an outreach email, these insights generally go unutilized.
By tracking which pieces of content, and what sections within that content, prospects engage with, Sales is able to gain a clearer understanding of who they’re targeting and what specifically piques their interest. Tracking these insights allows for tailored follow-up that specifically addresses the concepts and ideas the prospect most engaged with. Content usage statistics also provide an opportunity to prioritize efforts based on prospect engagement; no more blindly choosing who to engage. With all of this information available, it’s about how the insights are utilized to find heightened success.
Account Expansion Opportunities
Successfully executing an ABM strategy provides Sales with the intelligence necessary for embarking on account expansion and upsell opportunities. The early stages of the ABM process – account identification, account mapping, outreach with custom content – provide the opportunity to form deep connections that can be used to expand within the account. In fact, according to the Alterra Group, “84% of marketers said that ABM had significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing client relationships.”
When Sales is successful at winning a targeted account it is because they have done the hard work of knowing the organization inside and out. So, instead of treating an account expansion target like a completely new opportunity as may be the case in non-ABM situations, Sales can leverage their existing relationships to push for meetings and deeper account penetration.
Because of the intimate knowledge of the account Sales can identify champions – people who are likely to praise the product or solution within their own organization. These champions will be instrumental in providing word-of-mouth support and introducing key decision-makers in different divisions or departments. Marketing again supports Sales by providing intelligence on departmental layout and identifying who will be important to engage.
In addition, Sales will be aided with more custom content that will contain even more relevant data. Marketing can use statistics about that very account to create content that clearly states benefits.
Account expansion and Account Based Marketing go hand-in-hand. The first closed deal within a targeted account is only the tip of the iceberg. After that, Sales is able to leverage relationships to create new opportunities and find new avenues for expansion.
ABM positions sellers for increased win rates and hyper-targeted efforts maximizing their time and effectiveness within large target accounts. Account Based Marketing is an incredibly powerful strategy that gives Sales the chance to utilize their skills and assets in new and engaging ways.