How Account-Based Selling is Connecting the Modern Buyer to the Modern Seller

Monday April 23, 2018 comments Tags: Viveka von Rosen, Account Based Selling, Selling, marketing

6 Steps to ABM Success for Today’s Fearless Marketer

You’ve heard of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Your sales team keeps asking about it, and your marketing team keeps trying to perfect it. And if you’re attending Marketo's Marketing Nation Summit, you’re going to hear a lot more about it. With over a dozen sessions dedicated to ABM, it continues to be one of the hottest topics in digital. But before you wait in line to attend some of the basic introductory sessions, here are some valuable tips on ABM so you can head to San Francisco with some useful ABM tips to maximize your time at the conference.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a proven way to better qualify leads and grow your sales. That’s because cold-calling and spray-and-pray marketing tactics are dead. 

Times have changed, and so have the ways companies generate leads. The fact is, a modern buyer requires a modern seller. And you must know how to focus account-based marketing strategies throughout the whole modern buyer’s journey!

Here are a few basics to get your sales and marketing teams ready.

People used to think of sales as purely a numbers game. They created prefabricated one-size fits-all scripts to contact a broad audience. The problem is that people are now used to getting bombarded with emails, phone calls, messages, and posts that are not relevant to their actual business needs.

Like nasty cologne, today's buyer can smell a canned message or script from a mile away.

While ABM has been around for years, it was utilized mainly by large companies. Now you are starting to hear about companies of all sizes using it. In a recent survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet, they found that 40% of companies already have an ABM program in place, 15% are piloting a program, and 21% are planning a program.

The modern ABM practice is about quality, not quantity. The reason ABM is more effective than your traditional cold-calling sales strategy is that the focus is now on quality engagement with prospects. In an ABM model, sales reps will likely contact fewer people, but they will be using data and analytics to be able to target the right people.

In the past, many sales and marketing teams were often using different sets of data and were rarely on the same page regarding which accounts were being targeted. Today, sales and marketing teams must be structured so they can easily work together to serve the target accounts.  It’s important to break through traditional silos, encouraging comprehensive thinking and nimble actions across departments to drive the optimal customer experience. One way to achieve this is to develop cross functional teams dedicated to specific personas with joint metrics to ensure integrated experiences for every specific account.

Additionally, you need to use data and analytics to architect the most valuable engagement for each account.  This requires leveraging data to understand what the real-time needs of the account are and what messages are relevant to it, and then deliver those through the proper channels.  For this step, you must start with structured, connected, real-time data.  You need to understand your current customer base to figure out who your best customers are and then identify more accounts like those.

 When sales and marketing become aligned via shared processes, data, customer insights quality, and shared measurements, quality lead generation increases over time. And, higher-quality leads result in increased close percentages as sales reps are spending less time chasing the wrong prospects and more time focused on the needs of their targets. With all pieces in play, it makes for the perfect sale.

At the end of the day, data is really at the heart of any successful ABM program is data. ABM requires leveraging data to understand what the real-time needs of the account are. Once you understand the buyer's needs in each of your accounts, you can craft messages and create relevant content to move them through the buyer’s journey to take action.

However, finding the right individual to deliver the messaging to remains a challenge for many sellers. According to Dun & Bradstreet’s survey, 75% of those implementing ABM strategies say they, “Can't find right contacts at companies matching their target profiles.”

Here are six ABM steps you can take to overcome these challenges and get started on the right foot.

  1. Know Your Market -Combine your customer data with trusted market data, segment along multiple dimensions, build the ideal account profile
  2. Identify and Validate Targets - Select target accounts for both account management and business development teams, map contact coverage in target accounts. Once you have your ideal profile identified in Step 1, you can then find companies that “look like” these best customers, but did not generate the same sales, and target them. 
  3. Populate Your Account Map - Identify relevant data & contacts, map influencer and decision makers. Connect account insights to sales & marketing strategy. You’ll need a solution that has detailed information on corporate family trees (basically how each piece of the company like a subsidiary or franchise fits together) and also detailed org chart information.  This will save you a lot of time in researching the right contacts or overlapping with other parts of the business. 
  4. Create Account-Specific Messages - Using the insights you’ve gathered, generate or modify messages and content personalized for target accounts and contacts; speak to their needs and challenges.
  5. Execute the program with sales AND marketing - Create engagement plans, personalized marketing campaigns, direct touch sales.
  6. Measure, refine and expand - Track results, refine as needed. Consider any account or market changes based on data.

Still not convinced that ABM is the right approach for you? A MarketingProfs survey reports that companies using ABM generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts. So, even if you are starting out, it is worth the time and effort to put an ABM program in place.

 You'll be thankful you got ahead of your competitors who still insist on cold-calling and spam emails.

 If you are going to the summit, you might as well go in style. Check out this opportunity to win a VIP experience from Dun & Bradstreet and Lattice Engines.