As Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is increasingly adopted by B2B marketing and sales teams, you may wonder how ABM differs from a traditional sales process.
Is ABM really a new concept, or have existing techniques simply been rebranded? This post explores what ABM is, and why it’s such a unique strategy.
An ABM approach allows organisations to precisely target high-yield prospects, by focusing efforts on key individuals, or on a combined panel of decision makers (the Decision Making Unit) within that account. Unlike a persona-focussed, inbound approach, ABM is highly specific, allowing you to treat an account as a market of one. As such, it is an approach reserved for higher value sales opportunities; ABM is more labour intensive, but with a focus on select high propensity target accounts, ABM works to ensure solid ROI. Here, using account segmentation to split accounts into high, middle, and low propensity will help to ensure the right accounts, and enable a scalable, effective ABM strategy.
So is this a new strategy? While key account marketing was previously used by larger companies to target a handful of major accounts, developments in technology and strategy have refined the process, allowing for the emergence of ABM. Although not entirely a new concept, ABM is less labour-and-cost intensive than it used to be, especially when combined with an inbound strategy. However, the technologically-enabled strategies behind ABM are what make it fundamentally different to old-school sales strategies.
So what are the main differences between traditional sales methods, such as Key Account Marketing, and ABM?
Over the last decade, the evolution of the internet has been a major influence on buyer behaviour; marketing and sales processes have had to adapt to meet this change. Pre-internet, the B2B Sales Cycle was seller-centric, with organisations cold calling, using interruptive ads and a static pitch. Now, organisations attract customers with more inbound methods; by creating buyer pain focussed content (rather than product focussed), and, crucially, leveraging buying context to deliver a buyer-centric sales strategy. The focus has shifted away from simply selling a product to building a relationship with customers; to be successful, this relationship must deliver value to the customer by advising and providing them with solutions to their problems.
So how does all this work in a modern ABM process? Looking at key components:
So, while the basic structure of key account marketing has been in place for decades, modern ABM has evolved for the digital age. As a result, today’s ABM strategies enable an organisation (and its specific sales reps) to position themselves as trusted advisors and industry experts, who solve client problems to stay front of mind.
Ultimately, digital enablement is responsible for the evolution and scaling of ABM; it has become a unique and valuable lead generation strategy in its own right. As such, we believe ABM is only set to grow in 2018; run in conjunction with demand generation and inbound marketing campaigns, ABM provides that additional layer of personalisation required to start more valuable sales conversations.