Are you using Account Based Marketing (ABM) to build pipeline? Congratulations, according to research, you’re in the small majority who are reaping its benefits. But be careful. With a raft of new software now available, ABM has had a 21st century makeover. New technology is shaking up the marketing mix and sales teams and prospects can both toast the results.Rather than requiring your team to pour over annual reports and develop influencer maps, today’s ABM is more scalable, more accurate and more targeted. It’s delivering more results as a consequence. So, if you want to continue leading the pack, or even just want to get-in on the action, here are some critical success factors to consider:
Choose your software
ABM is no longer confined to who’s in your CRM. The term ABM software covers a range of tools from marketing account intelligence, and account-based content execution software, to buyer intent software. Marketing account intelligence software moves marketing beyond the ‘spray and pray’ approach of putting content out into the market and hoping it resonates. AI algorithms, help companies build ideal customer profiles and trawl the internet to provide insightful and relevant prospect data. Buyer intent software, as the name suggests, allows you to target companies that recognize they have a need for software or services, like yours, and who already have an ‘intent to purchase’. It provides an overview of the hot topics within those companies, and insight into whether your company is currently on their radar as a potential partner. The potential of this software to enable sales and marketing to focus efforts on active opportunities rather than second-guessing the market is huge. Now, intent-powered digital programmatic advertising is being added to the mix too. It means that even if companies aren’t searching for, or viewing, your website you can still target them with your messaging based on their intent buying signals.
Build your team
Should sales be directing the focus of ABM? 100% yes! The ultimate aim of any B2B company is to sell, so getting input from the field is essential. That input needs to be data-driven. Mining your CRM, or your Sales Enablement Software to spot patterns, trends and high opportunity segments is at the heart of good ABM. In fact, most sales enablement tools will now do that hard work for you. It is this which enables a much larger number of prospects to be targeted than previously. Following the hunch of what one sales leader thinks might be a good vertical to target, however, is not the way to deliver results.
Marketing should be involved. Creating messaging, content and campaigns is definitely in their wheelhouse. They’ll be familiar with setting up and optimizing ABM programs and ensuring targeted outreach is not done in isolation. This will help ensure your work is part of a cohesive marketing effort for maximum impact.
ABM is not a hard sell. It’s about putting the buyer first. The aim is to deliver content that addresses their specific pain points and educates them on ways to address those issues. In the process, you’ll reassure them that you work for an organization they can partner with. The masters of the non-hard sell are your PR team. After all, they’re promoting your company every day to national and trade journals that would run a mile at the mere hint of a sales pitch. Get these messaging masters on board and use them with your prospects. If what they deliver is good enough for national and broadcast media, they’ll know how to hit the zeitgeist and ensure your company shines.
Get on the same page
For ABM to deliver, sales and marketing need to be on the same page, early. ABM is first, and foremost an engagement tool. Before, you switch off from such a woolly term, consider: 95% of buyers choose a provider who gives them relevant content at each stage of their buying process. Now consider that 65% of sales reps can’t find the relevant content to send to buyers. ABM attracts your prospects with the right content and then keeps them engaged along the buying journey. It nurtures them from first contact to PO and beyond. With no clear hand-off from marketing to sales, just a seamless, consistent and ongoing communication experience between buyer and company as the ultimate goal, this type of collaboration is essential.
Its easy to be overwhelmed by the number of nuanced ABM software offerings on the market but there is no better way to learn what works for you than by rolling-up your sleeves and giving it a-go. With a small but focused team, it is relatively straight forward to run a pilot, test and refine before rolling out to a wider group. Take the entrepreneur’s motto of fail-fast but, in reality, expect to deliver incremental gains quickly. That said, don’t rest on your laurels. As AI-driven software becomes increasingly sophisticated, your ABM team should continuously be looking at add-ons and tweaks to your marketing program. In this way, you can be sure that you are touching your prospects in as many ways, with as much relevant content, as possible – and before your competition do. In the process you’ll build greater awareness and consideration for your brand, build pipeline and improve win rates to-boot.
So, if you want to continue leading the pack, keep up to date. If you think your organization could benefit from this as a marketing approach, then build your team, choose your software and give it a go! With even the smallest amount of wind in your sails you’ll be surprised at how quickly you gain traction and your sales and marketing results soar.
Rachel Bibby is a Consultant at Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning sales enablement company