March 25, 2016 by Kimberly Mercer
Don’t call it a come back. Account-based marketing (ABM) is buzzy right now, but it’s actually the granddaddy of integrated B2B sales and marketing strategy. Long before content marketing and social media strategy, there was a targeted strategy dedicated to key account selection. It’s current resurgence can be attributed mostly to the ‘as-service’ economy defined by complex products and services, and long sales cycles. It just doesn’t make sense to spend resources creating, distributing and promoting lead-gen content to consumers who don’t really understand your offering—and that’s assuming they even know they need it. When left to their own devices, buyers are two-thirds of the way to a decision before they make contact with your sales rep. That’s a big risk to take. Account-based sales and marketing removes that risk, along with the throw-the-spaghetti-at-the-wall approach to generating leads that then need to be qualified. When you’re talking about 5-and 6-digit ARR, it’s smarter and more efficient to carefully define who your target accounts are and then push resources towards pursuit and conversion. The good news is, you’ve already got the intel you need to map out a powerful, targeted strategy and win those whales.
ABM aligns sales and marketing—targets, content and sales strategy—that are often out of step, measuring success differently so that never do they really rally for the same cause. ABM changes that.
We’re talking about full-solution sales and marketing with focused resources and clearly defined opportunities. These can be specific companies or wider groups, based on category or market. Whatever your target, you’ll begin with a detailed description of these high value accounts. Go deep. Understand everything about the companies. Deal size, profit margins, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), organizational structure, potential forces of influence and disruption. Bring the full force of your resources to this discovery. Your sales reps, accounts and customer success teams are your best source of intel on the key players and competitors. Win-loss analysis, account management, customer insights: all of these will give you an edge in pursuing target accounts.
What to say, to whom and when. It’s standard content strategy with the benefit of knowing exactly who you are creating it for. No generalizations. No personas. No assumptions. What do they say, post, tweet and like? Where do they go, who do they connect with, what do they read? What channels, software and platforms do they use? All this will develop and very clear picture of both organizational needs and those of the people you need to get in front of. Understanding their What Now will help you become their What’s Next.
You’ve built a formidable collection of information on market leaders, gaps in services, trends, disruptors, sales cycles and go-to-market positioning. Often, competitive intel is saved for the late-stage sell. But an account-based approach integrates all of those rival insights into a full-court press across the entire cycle, from planning to pitch.
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