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Back in the day, it was about connecting over the phone. Ten years ago brought in email and five years ago everyone was all about social.
The current trend that’s bringing in big revenue for those who master it combines all three: account-based marketing (ABM), a strategy that brings a more personal, focused touch to marketing strategies and sales plays.
Quality trumps quantity
There’s no way around it: Focusing on net-new leads is a bad indicator of success. There’s no guarantee those leads translate into new business. ABM is all about using a list that’s been thoroughly considered and evaluated for its potential to create opportunities and sales. Our friends over at TOPO call this the Ideal Customer Profile, or ICP. Having a large list, different lists between marketing and sales, or any unqualified list negates the entire concept.
When you begin to look at your ICP as a collection of accounts vs. a collection of leads, you start to understand that each buying center within those accounts has their own cycle. Buyers are looking for solutions to make life easier, executives are looking for partners and resources to move the needle, and financial analysts are looking to drive revenue growth and reduce costs. ABM means taking the time to really listen to each one of those pieces of the decision-making puzzle, because you no a sale can’t happen without every single person on board.
Tip: Content can’t solve all your problems
A lot of organizations view content engagement and downloads as a high qualifying factor, but you never know — it could just be a tire-kicker, or someone doing research on a topic with no intention of buying your products at all. Content marketing is an attributive marketing function that marketers have mistaken for a lead generation effort.
Today’s best marketers position content to engage the buyer, but know that once they have the attention they need to set the hook. In fact, our experience shows that even single touch demand generation is a false hope — online advertising and re-targeting efforts are deployed to ensure that the initial touch takes root so we can begin qualifying the buyer’s true interest. This is perhaps best illustrated by ABM vendor Terminus and the #FlipMyFunnel movement.
There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all
Here’s the key to ABM: You have to tailor your approach to that particular account and their needs. If you believe an auto-responder and a phone call are going to do it, think again. Strategies once reserved for enterprise-level engagement are now commonplace, regardless of deal size. To truly surround the deal and engage the buying committee, you have to be prepared to assemble a close plan, an organizational buying structure, and a nurture plan.
This isn’t going to work if your sales team and your marketing team are at odds. We have to arm our teams with the operational structure to address the needs present by this bigger accounts, and train them on processes that lead to success. Skills like social selling are, as Jill Rowley says, not learned overnight. What’s worse, those tools really fall flat when executed poorly. To make an ABM model work, you need a seamless blend of marketing tactics that shines light on the buying path. It needs to happen smoothly on its own while the sales team runs plays designed to engage all levels of the account.
The bottom line: ABM isn’t easy. That’s not a reason to stay away.
Account-based marketing is a bit like Slayer in the 80s — not for the feint of heart.
ABM means approaching every deal is if it were your only one. Think of the resources. What attention would you devote to the customer if it was your only one? How tailored would your communications be? How much care would you put into timing your follow-ups? How personal and invested would the customer see you? For this to work, you have to deeply invest in every one of those questions.
As a strategy uniquely suited to the digital landscape, account-based marketing is becoming increasingly popular among savvy marketers. From creating hyper-relevant sales and marketing experiences to specific uses like connecting with users on LinkedIn with pinpoint messages, account-based marketing represents the marketer you always wanted to be. Omnipresence.
If you combine new ABM technology and the already-robust tools available in marketing automation systems, the marketing of today promises an incredible array of opportunities for creating unprecedented unity between sales and marketing. That means for a better experience for potential (and existing) customers – and more revenue for you.