And don’t be surprised. Account-based is still new to many.
If you’ve been a practitioner of Account-Based Marketing for years, you might still get surprised when companies and clients don’t follow account-based approaches. The truth is that ABM strategies are still relatively new phenomenons in the B2B world, only really picking up steam as technology has made them more efficient to implement in recent years.
Account-Based or Nothing.
While many businesses understand the basics of ABM and have at least considered it to deal with their own targets and accounts, they also subscribe to a nearly universal perception held by companies that have yet to fully embrace it. One might think of it as the ABMoN misconception: Account-Based Marketing or Nothing.
Taking special care to individualize your communication with targets so you court and nurture the very best of the best is a winning strategy on paper. For companies with ten target accounts, going 100% ABM is a no-brainer.
But how many companies only have ten customers?
When you’re dealing with thousands of accounts, there’s an incalculable number of moving parts in play. If you hold that all-or-nothing mindset, of course you’ll be intimidated right off of implementing ABM.
Account-Based Isn’t All-Or-Nothing.
Not every single account requires personalized account planning and sales and marketing coordination. Those assumptions are made because companies don’t understand where they fall on the ABM spectrum, and how to go about implementing a hybrid ABM approach.
We had a client recently that understood the hierarchy of ABM right away. When we met with them, we were blown away by their strict and efficient approach to servicing their top accounts. Why? Because their top accounts are always changing.
This client has thousands of customers, far too many to feasibly provide account planning for each with realistic resources and budget. But ABM isn’t about every one of your accounts—it’s about the best ones.
How They Did It
By identifying their market and arriving at a specific set of criteria, this client used data to narrow down their targets into a few lists—top 100, top 500, and everybody else. Many companies do this, but what makes this client so great at ABM is their constant re-evaluation of their top accounts. They know that, at any time, they will only be providing full account planning for 100 accounts. The clients and industries might change as accounts get cycled in and out, but it doesn’t create any extra work.
Of course, they don’t neglect their accounts on the other lists. They just scale back their ABM. For the top 500, they take messaging personalized for a company in the top 100, then adjust it to fit all companies within that same vertical. The messages get increasingly broadened the further they move down their list, but it all stems from the account work they do at the top. (Similar to how Brandon explained Engagio’s three funnels here.)
ABM’s Dirty Secret
The dirty secret of ABM is that many clients don’t know the right questions to ask themselves. They’re still assuming the all-or-nothing fallacy. By segmenting part of your database for account planning, the rest can stay broad and remain demand gen funnel-based. The exact number of clients you serve this way is a sliding scale depending on how many you have, but it will almost never be “all of them.”
Whether you have a few choice accounts or hundreds of thousands, you can tailor account-based to your unique situation using your current resources. Perception is still reality. Make sure your perception is based in reality and start experimenting.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.