If you’ve been in the marketing or sales world for more than a minute, you’ve likely heard the term “account-based marketing” (ABM) on a continuous loop. According to ITSMA, ABM is officially the hottest topic in the industry and Forbes recently reported that 86% of companies with an implemented ABM strategy saw incredible ROI.
The increased adoption of ABM is driven by several factors:
- B2B buyers are no longer responding to generic messaging, as they increasingly expect marketers to speak directly to their unique needs (industry, role, etc.) and specific stage of the buying journey;
- The growing influence of buying teams and committees on purchase decisions is shifting marketing organizations from focusing on generating individual leads to engaging multiple stakeholders within key target accounts;
- B2B marketers are increasingly realizing the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of batch-and-blast marketing; and
- The emergence of new technologies and tactics is enabling B2B marketers to intelligently target accounts with similar demographics and needs and build coordinated plays to reach those accounts with advertising throughout the sales cycle.
However, it’s not coming up roses for everyone.
We’ve heard cries for help from others that have experienced some setbacks (or complete silence from those that feel like they missed the boat). They may not phrase it as an ABM challenge, but there are some gaps that specifically affect an ABM strategy. Sound familiar?
But like any well-oiled machine, it takes a lot of planning, obstacles, reassessments, and teamwork to see the results. ABM truly is a strategic approach to reach your target audience and to increase your sales pipeline, and it’s a core component of our strategy here at Televerde.
We’ve compiled a list of tactics to help you overcome some of the most common challenges marketers face when executing ABM.
Without further ado, let’s focus on the tactics that will help you get maximum results from your ABM strategy
Correctly utilize your sales development reps
The role sales development representatives (SDRs) play in ABM success cannot go unnoticed. Not only do they help drive initial meetings and engagement, they’re perfect for an ABM approach because they spend a large portion of their time conducting research and gathering intelligence on key influencers in your target accounts – freeing up time for your account execs to close deals.
Former Marketo Founder, Jon Miller, and more recent founder and CEO of Engagio, an account-based orchestration platform, actively advocates for an Account-Based Everything Framework. In a recent blog post, he wrote:
“There is a limit to how deeply you can connect with target accounts using only marketing channels, such as ABM advertising, direct mail, and nurturing. Sometimes you need a one-to-one human connection and that’s the realm of Sales and Sales Development.”
Ensure your tech stack is optimized for connections
We know that the human connection is what makes the difference between a lasting relationships and one-time sales. Still, without the foundation of a solid tech stack, you won’t get the opportunity to be in front of the prospects that you need.
There is a growing list of targeted solutions available to help companies address the marketing, sales, and sales development functions of an account-based strategy. Companies typically start out by utilizing core systems like CRM and marketing automation platforms, but many organizations then advance to use tools such as:
For each of these tools, there is no shortage of vendors to choose from. However, bear in mind that any tool you bring on board will likely require good process and should integrate with other tools to help drive company goals and revenue.
Design your social strategy to build rapport
Your account execs are probably already leveraging social platforms, but are they using them to their full capacity in a way that gets into target accounts? A thought-out, documented social strategy is necessary when executing ABM. To make lasting connections, your account execs need to leverage the social platforms your prospects are using. Connect with them in a genuine way that shows you’re interested in helping them solve a problem. Your goal is to use social media to glean insight that will help you quickly build rapport with the contacts inside your target accounts.
You don’t want to throw around direct messages like confetti. Establish a relationship first in simple ways like:
- Value added replies to their post
- Content shares and re-tweets
- Follow or join groups they’re involved in
Think outside the box with the TeamLink feature of Linkedin Sales Navigator. TeamLink shows you the connections all of your employees have, not just those in sales, giving you extra leverage into target accounts where you haven’t thought to look before. These tools help SDRs target the right contacts and then engage with more personalized outreach that builds on shared connections or common areas of interest. What if your co-worker in IT sang in the same a cappella club in college as the CIO of one of your most coveted accounts? There’s your ‘in’.
Maximize the power of in-person connections
Conversations are more memorable, and powerful, than direct messages. Maximize the opportunities to meet with your targets. Nothing beats connecting in-person to further develop relationships with your target accounts. Take the time to research events you know a large amount of your target accounts will be attending. The more intel you can gather pre-event, the better.
Prior to the event, up your social activity and email sends to tap into the contacts of your target accounts. Take advantage of current customers that will also be in attendance. It’s much more compelling, and effective, to have a customer sing your praises instead of generic sales pitches from your account executives.
Customized content for the win
This deserves the emphasis. You can’t have a killer ABM strategy without the content to back it up.
In a study conducted by Charity Stebbins and Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, one finding shows that content makes people 131% more likely to buy from a brand. The best tactic to use for content that aids in an ABM approach is content that addresses your prospects challenges at each stage of the funnel. From there, you can gauge what piece of content is suited for the specific pain or challenge your target account is having.
Account-specific programs require targeted and, where possible, customized offerings. Many marketing teams address this challenge in the early stages by building templated content that can be re-versioned for specific industries, roles, or even branded for specific accounts. Another popular tactic for ABM programs is using direct mail and video platforms — which can be easily personalized — while still utilizing existing messaging.
Focus on conversions over leads
Personalize every interaction a prospect has with you, from emails to your website, to switch the focus from getting leads to converting target accounts into customers. There are so many ways you can personalize every ABM tactic you decide to use. Here are a few that have shown us results:
- Website personalization
- Persona-based email campaigns
- Personalized nurture streams and landing pages
- Attention grabbing direct-mail campaigns
Go the extra mile by personalizing as much of your outreach as you can and you’ll see quality leads that convert.
Ultimately, the success of any account-based initiative will be driven by how closely aligned marketing and sales teams are around which accounts to target, which contacts within that account to engage, and which metrics to track to gauge their interest in purchasing your solution.
With competition continually vying for a customer’s attention, an account-based approach might just be the thing that sets your company apart and with a thoughtful intentional plan, making that switch can be as easy as A, B, M.