When an ABM Strategy Works For You
As we mentioned, account-based marketing can require extra time, money, and effort to pull off successfully. Bullard recommends ABM complement, not replace, the marketing you are already successfully doing.
“I think it’s all about how you resource it,” she said. “And so for us, doing ABM didn’t mean abandoning the highly efficient lead gen efforts that we were doing before. For us, we took about 20 percent of our resources and 20 percent of our target accounts, quite frankly that really top list of target accounts. And that’s the group that we do this really, highly personalized ABM efforts with. And we’re smart about the rest of our lead gen efforts, but we don’t abandon it.”
And ABM done well means that it is specific your business, your business goals, your prospects, and your industry. Charter School Capital, DiscoverOrg, and Act-On, would each approach account-based marketing differently.
“I think every company can do ABM. It’s really about the percentage of sales and marketing resources that are devoted to ABM that is dependent on the target market,” Bullard said. “The example that I always give us, I used to work for a company where the Fortune 1000 was our target market. That was it. We had a nine-month sales cycle and an average ASP of over half a million dollars. And so for us, we were 100 percent ABM. Because it was a small group, it was a tight group, we could devote all of our resources against those thousand companies.
“At DiscoverOrg we have a target market between 50 and 100,000 accounts. I can’t personalize outreach to eight contacts at all 100,000 companies. So about 20 percent of our efforts are focused on that top, you know, the couple thousand that are at the top of the list. And the rest of the market we absolutely go after in a variety of different ways. And we look to secure a lot of inbound leads.”
Emphasizing the Account in ABM
According to CEB research, the average B2B decision making group includes 5.4 buyers. Each buyer can play a different role or represent a variety of teams and locations. They are very likely to have different needs, perspectives, and priorities. They may even have competing goals. Add in the influencers and you have a whole passel of people involved in a buying decision. As a result, in the sales process our marketing and sales teams will inevitably interact with multiple individuals who can make or influence a decision. Those individuals all contribute to what eventually is a company decision.
When we close a deal, it’s with an account, not a contact. That same goes for losing an opportunity or a renewal. We lose the account. ABM is not about forsaking the lead, it’s about understanding the lead’s context and the importance of the company the lead represents, and discovering and addressing the additional players in the mix. We found that at the beginning of the ABM process, there’s a whole lot of attention paid to choosing which account to focus on. That’s critically important as it drives priorities and identifies who we spend our key assets, time, and attention on. This is generally done manually with marketing automation providing good data to help in the decision-making process.
The biggest stumbling block in account-based marketing has always been what happens after those accounts are identified. The communication demands, both in communicating and keeping track of the communications, are staggering. By leveraging Act-On’s ABM module, marketers can precisely target all decision makers within an account, and deliver a unified experience across the organization, link individual buyer behaviors and data across a single account view, create account-based campaigns to improve nurturing and engagement, and automatically score accounts and trigger campaigns and workflows inside and outside of the inbox.
Want to see the process from start to finish? Check out the video series DiscoverOrg created to document their ABM efforts.
“I would just say what works for one company doesn’t work for another company,” Bullard said. “And so there’s never a magic secret sauce to ABM. The biggest advice I have is experiment, refine, don’t try to get it perfect the first time, but just keep getting better. And that’s really how you make it successful.”