Account-based Marketing (ABM) is a revenue growth strategy based on account awareness, where revenue teams identify and engage with individual customer accounts as markets of one. Whereas most revenue team strategies cast a wide net, ABM is akin to fishing with a spear.
Simply put, ABM works! If you’re not already completely convinced, consider the following ABM statistics:
- 87 percent of B2B marketers agreed ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities (ITSMA)
- Companies deploying ABM generated 200 percent more revenue for their marketing efforts compared to those that don’t (FlipMyFunnel)
- Companies using ABM for at least one year realized a 10 percent increase in revenue, while 19 percent of companies reported revenue growth of over 30 percent (DemandBase)
- 91 percent of marketers who use ABM indicated larger deal sizes, with 25 percent stating their deal size being over 50 percent larger (SiriusDecisions)
There’s little doubt ABM works. But, an effective ABM motion isn’t easy, as the path to success can be fraught with challenges. And, one of its biggest challenges might lie in its name.
The Biggest Challenge of ABM Might Reside In Its Name
In many organizations, ABM is viewed as a marketing strategy simply because of its name. It’s a logical conclusion; after all, the letter ‘M’ literally stands for “marketing.”
However, anyone who has tried to deploy ABM knows the key to any initiative’s effectiveness is a tight alignment between an organization’s sales and marketing functions.
Resist the temptation to think of ABM as a marketing initiative. Likewise, don’t think of it as a sales initiative, either. Effective ABM has always been — and always will be — a growth initiative!
Before your ABM initiative can produce results, your revenue team needs to fully align itself around the campaign and its objectives. This article covers four key alignment considerations.
Align Your Revenue Team Around Common ABM Goals
The first alignment consideration between revenue team functions is to come to a decisive conclusion to the question, “What do we want to achieve with ABM?”
It’s important you and your team don’t settle for a simplistic answer like “growth.” Even with a specific dollar or percentage increase amount, “growth” falls short of what you’ll need as a goal to build an ABM program around.
The more specific you can be with your ABM goals, the better. Common goals of ABM initiatives include:
- Introduce a new product, solution, or service to your marketplace
- Increase your market share in an established market; Earn business away from a particular competitor
- Break into new markets, industry verticals, and/or segments
- Expand business with your existing customers through upsell/cross-sell opportunities
- Accelerate existing open opportunities currently stuck in your sales pipeline
Get specific about the whys and what's behind your ABM initiative. Your overall goals will dictate the remainder of your ABM strategic planning, like developing a target account list.
Align Your Revenue Team on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
After your ABM goals are collaboratively established and bought into by the entire revenue team, then move toward driving alignment on KPIs. Working together, the revenue team needs to determine how ABM performance will be measured, analyzed, and evaluated.
In this step, clearly define how your revenue team collects and measures engagement analytics across all ABM outreach efforts, inclusive of sales, marketing, and customer success functions. At a minimum, the revenue team leadership will need to regularly review the following:
- Engaged accounts
- Opportunity accounts
- Opportunities created
- Marketing, sales, and customer success influence/attribution
- Revenue won
- Average deal size
- Deal velocity
Tactically, the team should also measure paid media, landing page conversions, pipeline influence, and a host of other KPIs.
Make your KPIs readily accessible and informative by creating easy-to-understand dashboards. Additionally, review your ABM KPIs at every revenue team meeting.
Align Your Revenue Team on Target Accounts
Target accounts are integral to any ABM initiative. After all, initiatives are labeled account-based for a reason.
Your revenue team needs to align around a target account list that maps directly to its ABM goals. For example, if the primary goal of your ABM strategy is to take advantage of upsell and cross-sell opportunities at existing customers, your target account list should consist entirely of those such companies. In this instance, any speculative prospecting at new business accounts will only divert your attention and resources.
Quite often, ABM programs target aspirational accounts or those prospective customers who have been difficult to engage in the past. Resist the temptation to include those aspirational accounts on your target list if the only reason for their inclusion is that of “wouldn’t it be great.”
Once your tentative target account list has been drafted, ruthlessly scour it for any suspect accounts. Refer to your ideal customer profile (ICP) and use it as a benchmark with which to compare your target accounts.
Align on Lead, Contact, and Account Data
Once your ABM initiative begins to gain traction, a key driver of revenue team alignment is your lead, contact, and account data. In fact, with proper designs in place, your data and data systems will produce better alignment.
ABM motions are as customer-centric as your GTM motions get. Remember, ABM is not about your company and your products, services, and solutions, but rather about your target accounts and their needs. Your customer data spearheads that effort.
An absolute requirement for your target account list is that all lead data in the CRM is accurately matched to accounts. Utilize one of the lead-to-account matching solutions on the AppExchange to automate this process and free your revenue team to proactively engage target accounts.
Additionally, provide your entire revenue team access and visibility into all your ABM plays to ensure account workflow and messaging is consistent. For example, when marketing runs a campaign directed at a target account, it needs to collaborate with the appropriate account executive to ensure outreach and messaging doesn’t come across as disjointed from the perspective of the customer. Similarly, if marketing has invested in campaigns toward a target account but the sales team doesn’t engage with follow-up, the investment likely won’t post a return.
Use lead, contact, and account data as the thread to bring the functional groups of your revenue team closer together.
Move Forward with Effective ABM
Avoiding the frequent starts and stops indicative of so many ABM initiatives requires revenue team alignment from the very beginning. Strong alignment empowers your team to engage target accounts with consistent messaging, while simultaneously ensuring smooth, efficient handoffs of leads, and contacts within your team.
With full revenue team alignment, valuable account data is never hidden in silos. As a result, your team benefits from the fundamental necessity for a successful ABM motion — holistic, comprehensive views of target accounts and their engagement.
About the author: Ray Hartjen is the Head of Content Strategy at LeanData, a SaaS provider of native Salesforce applications and an industry leader in the lead-to-account matching and routing space. Connect with Hartjin on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Trailblazer.
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