Account-Based Marketing – How to Get Started

What if your business was able to eliminate unnecessary marketing efforts and focus directly on leads and potential customers that are highly likely to convert?

Sounds pretty great, right?

It’s called Account Based Marketing (ABM) and it can completely change the way your marketing function operates.

ABM is a focused growth strategy that creates a customized buying experience for high-potential customers. ABM is a collaborative effort that involves the marketing and sales functions.

Just as the marketing industry realized a need to create inbound marketing as an alternative to outbound strategies, ABM takes that idea one step further.

The disruptive nature of outbound marketing, where companies identify and reach out to customers through tactics like email blasts or pop up digital ads, is likely to turn off today’s consumer.

The pull nature of inbound marketing is more aligned with today’s consumer. Because consumers identify and reach out to the business, not the other way around, increased ROI and higher quality leads are likely to result.

How Does it Work?

1. Get Everyone on the Same Page

Although each account will receive customized treatment, the experience should begin with a template that ensures consistent procedures are utilized. In order to do that, companies must obtain buy-in from leaders from every function throughout the business to align on items such as:

  • ABM goals
  • Identified leaders and key stakeholders
  • KPIs
  • Process for assembling account teams
  • Distribution of responsibilities between sales and marketing
  • Ideal number and maximum accounts per rep

2. Identify Target Accounts

Determine and document the criteria you will consistently utilize to identify target accounts. Consider incorporating the following:

  • Best Practices. Think back to the best deals your business has executed and examine the criteria that made those leads ideal for your business.
  • Lead Activity. Which leads are currently engaging with your inbound content but haven’t yet converted?
  • Flowcharts. Once the criteria begin to materialize, automate the process to the extent possible. Filter incoming leads that have been qualified into your CRM system using a standardized process and the predetermined criteria.

3. Develop the Plan

Of critical importance in this step is the collaboration of sales and marketing. From deciding on the budget to deploying the right resources, a collaborative effort will be key. To get your plan started, include considerations such as:

  • What is our sales proposition, including points of differentiation, for each account?
  • How will sales and marketing each specifically provide support throughout the various phases of the process?
  • Who are the gatekeepers and decision makers at each account?
  • What channels will be most effective in connecting with these individuals?
  • What content will be most engaging? Consider case studies that prove the value proposition and inform decision making.

Some examples of connective channels include:

  • Social media. For example, on LinkedIn, identify in which industry groups the decision-makers are active and begin providing informative and meaningful commentary.
  • Content. Create and distribute articles and blog posts on publications relevant to the target. Follow up by sending the article or post to the target.
  • Interview. Engage with the target by inviting a leadership team member, gatekeeper or decision-maker to be a guest on a video series, podcast, or even in a written interview. You might already have such a strategy in progress or create it specifically for this purpose.

4. Deploy the Plan

Establishing relationships is the name of the game and it takes time. Remember ABM is a marathon, not a sprint. Because you have qualified this lead in such a careful way, you should be able to maintain confidence that the effort will pay off in the end.

5. Assess Performance and Realign Strategy

This last “step” is more of an ongoing process.

How did the process work?

  • Review the KPIs you established in step one. Add new KPIs if necessary.
  • Review the processes and procedures. Edit your plan as necessary.

Even if you haven’t yet converted the lead, there is a significant amount of useful information to be leveraged.

Benefits of ABM

Aside from the obvious benefits of converting more leads, some natural byproducts result along the way:

  • Sales and marketing functions naturally become more aligned.
  • The sales cycle becomes streamlined.
  • When obtained through ABM, valuable customers are more likely to develop brand loyalty and this results in customer retention.
  • Those loyal customers obtained through ABM also become natural brand advocates and promoters.

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