5 Steps to Prepare Your Organisation to Adopt Account-Based Marketing
Written by Gordon Hunter
Mar 8 2017
How to prepare B2B marketing and sales teams for account-based marketing adoption.
Why Adopt Account-Based Marketing?
ABM (Account based marketing) is a strategic approach that combines targeted, insight-led marketing with sales to increase mindshare, strengthen relationships and drive growth in specific new and existing accounts.
What’s your prime marketing goal?
For many B2B marketers, the answer will be ‘lead generation’,
In situations where:
Your market is narrow,
Deal sizes are large,
Your sales cycle spans months rather than weeks,
And the number of decision makers involved in a purchase is high,
B2B marketers can achieve lead goals by creating a more targeted, joint sales and marketing plan that treats high-value accounts as “markets of one” comprised of multiple people – this is exactly what Account-Based Marketing is designed to achieve.
Having determined that ABM belongs in your sales and marketing strategy, the question I’m usually asked next, is: "How do I go about creating an ABM plan, and how can I get my organisation to buy in to the idea of marketing in a very different way; especially a way that’s a cultural shift for most?"
How do I go about creating an ABM plan, and how can I get my organisation to buy in to the idea of marketing in a very different way; especially a way that’s a cultural shift for most?
While this may seem a sizeable obstacle, we have developed a five-step Account-Based Marketing eBook that B2B marketers can use to prepare their organisations to adopt ABM:
5 Steps To Prepare Your Organisation For ABM
1. Align marketing and sales
A successful ABM strategy is dependent on strong alignment between marketing and sales teams. Both sides of the business must have shared clarity on goals, objectives, account focus and more for campaigns to focus wholly on good-fit accounts.
When aligning your teams be sure to:
Bring sales insight into the ABM process early to focus attention on the right accounts and ensure success.
Build a joint plan that defines both sales goals and marketing objectives. According to Sirius Decisions, 84% of B2B marketers believe ABM provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding current relationships.
84% of B2B marketers believe ABM provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding current relationships - Sirius Decisions
2. Use data-driven insight
A strong foundation of data is integral to the success of any marketing campaign. Account-based marketing is no different; data insight must be used to develop bespoke propositions and messaging for each customer and stakeholder group.
Put simply, data insight is integral to steer your campaign.
Use data-driven insight to select target accounts and build an audience of named contacts.
Use your own customer/campaign data, account level data from social listening and even 3rd party intent data to identify customers with the highest propensity to buy. This insight will also highlight where you should focus sales and marketing effort for the best return.
3. Create account-specific content
ABM campaigns are bespoke; designed to appeal to a very specific account audience. This means that every aspect of your marketing activity - especially content - should be considered with that target account in mind.
To do this:
Start by conducting a content audit
Use a matrix to map each piece of current content to known pain points for each stakeholder group. This process will also uncover any content gaps that your campaign must address.
You can then create or modify content by tweaking the message to speak to an individual account, addressing specific issues they have.
While creating account-specific content may sound complex, modifying existing content will reduce time and cost.
As the focus with ABM is not primarily on lead volume, but on developing a relationship with a quality account, a range of other hard and soft metrics should be defined that can be mapped back to specific sales and marketing objectives.
Audience growth – This may be shown through the acquisition of net new contacts; identifying and engaging new buying centres or decision making groups.
Customer perception – For example, ensuring the customer has a deep understanding of your organisation and it’s full range of offerings. An example of this can be seen should you move from vendor to strategic partner/trusted advisor status.
Customer engagement – This may be defined as engaging with the right person earlier in the sales cycle and as a result, accelerating opportunity or time to pipeline.
Value of marketing to sales – Demonstrating marketing’s value to sales and the wider business.
Revenue growth – Ultimately, being able to demonstrate that ABM is impacting the movement of opportunity through the funnel to closed revenue is key.
5.Start with a pilot
I was recently asked by the Sales VP of a global tech company how to implement an ABM programme if the organisation has never done it before. I was asked;
Isn’t it too much of a cultural shift to ask sales and marketing to align in a way that’s unfamiliar?
However, this perceived cultural shift is something that an experienced agency partner like Strategic can help to circumvent. How? Because an experienced partner can facilitate ABM start-up; becoming an extension of the marketing team - who also works directly with sales - to build an ABM pilot.
This pilot campaign can then focus on a small number of accounts to prove success, and secure an understanding of the objectives and benefits that a full ABM campaign would need and achieve.
Using Partner Experience To Prepare For ABM
By joining with an agency partner to establish an ABM campaign, B2B organisations can achieve more than campaign results; an agency partner is there to help B2B organisations develop their ABM skillsets and define ABM best practices across the team. That way, the whole organisation can be properly aligned and prepared for a full, successful ABM programme.