Account-based marketing (ABM) is taking over B2B companies left and right,
and for good reason – it essentially closes the gap between Sales and Marketing, allowing both departments to align their efforts and drive conversions more effectively.
But aligning Sales and Marketing requires a specific (and willing) environment. Without proper strategy and communication, “alignment” can quickly turn to “clashing.”
Is ABM really the answer for your company?
While software vendors want you to believe it is, the truth is...it might not be.
If you’re going back and forth about whether to adopt ABM this year, take a few minutes to consider whether this method is appropriate for your company. The following criteria are good indicators.
You already understand your ideal customer
Successful ABM demands full focus on key accounts, meaning you need to research beyond traditional personas to identify ideal customers. Your ideal customers are those who are easy to close and easy to please because they already need (and can afford) your solution. It’s your job to connect them with your solution.
To identify your ideal customers, start by analyzing data about your current customers. Talk to sales, marketing, and customer success teams (i.e., your revenue team) to get a holistic view of who your ideal customers really are.
Strengthen your processes for identifying your ideal customer by checking out one of our recent posts, and if you’re confident you can accomplish this step and you have a list of customers you can analyze, keep reading.
You have a high ACV
Account-based marketing leans on an omnichannel approach, which requires a designated budget to gain significant momentum. While it may not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch an account-based marketing pilot, the time, money and effort needed to pull it off can be intimidating without a high-ACV product.
Account-based marketing is better suited for companies launching a high-ACV product because there’s higher probability the launch will pay for itself. Let’s take a look at the standard costs of an ABM pilot:
- Developing a list of target accounts
- Nurturing accounts
- Email marketing
- Paying sales team members for their time
- Hyper-targeted paid advertising
- Direct mail
- Content development
With all these moving parts, you may benefit from hiring an ABM professional to coordinate and manage the execution of the launch. Of course, this would be another expenditure to prepare for when launching your pilot.
You have the team to execute
If you looked at the list of expenses above and wondered how you would pull them off with your current team, then you have some more hiring to do – even beyond hiring an ABM professional.
In an ideal world, you would have an unstoppable salesperson-and-marketer duo tackling a small-scale account-based marketing launch. But that’s a rare pairing, and you’ll need qualified manpower for this ABM pilot. Account-based marketing requires intense focus and expert knowledge on various channels.
Before you head to the hiring platforms, assess your current team for these essential ABM skills:
- Sales development
- Content marketing
- Marketing/sales operations (expertise with relevant SaaS platforms)
- Social selling
- Paid advertising
While there may not be a single person on your team with expertise in content marketing or social selling, you should be able to pair a few team members up to get the job done. Where there are gaps in your team’s competency, supplement with consultants or freelancers on platforms like Upwork.
If you’re assembling your ABM team from scratch, here’s a deeper guide on how to set up your account-based marketing team.
You have the right data
There are six different types of data that are equally crucial for a successful ABM pilot, but for different reasons. Understanding how to categorize data will help your team get the most out of the data available to them.
- Contact data refers to your basic necessary information: all the contact information related to an individual or company. This includes names, titles, email addresses and social media handles.
- Firmographic data describes characteristics of firms or companies, including annual revenue, physical location and employees. Firmographic data is most useful if you sell physical products and need clarity on a company’s physical footprint.
- Technographic data provides insights into companies’ technology stacks. It’s a crucial data type for companies that sell digital products like SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, since it enables you to see a company’s digital infrastructure. But these results are only binary: yes, they’re using a product, or no, they aren’t.
- Intent data helps your team identify when leads are researching products or solutions online and are prepared to purchase. Intent data can be overly complicated and black-box, so use it with caution (preferably alongside other types of data).
- Behavioral data provides insights about individual consumer behavior, namely their engagement with your website, digital content, email, social media presence and more. Behavioral data improves your team’s understanding of the account penetration you already have while improving your analysis of your ABM efforts.
- Context data takes data points from various sources to assemble the bigger picture of an individual or company. Like technographic data, context data is a crucial data type for companies selling digital products. It allows you to peer even deeper into the inner workings of a company’s infrastructure, to understand its need, ability to purchase and budget based on current cloud usage.
Focus on quality, not quantity
While there’s sure to be plenty of trial and error as you move forward with your ABM pilot, do what you can to exercise quality control when selecting leads to pour energy toward. Write “quality over quantity” on the whiteboard in your conference room if you have to – just make sure everyone is on the same page.
ABMs are notably more expensive and time-consuming than other methods, so you want to ensure your team is expending resources only on easy-to-identify, high-value buyers. If you sell to a hard-to-identify buyer or a low-value buyer, ABM will be difficult and, ultimately, a waste of your time.
Is ABM right for you?
Account-based marketing doesn’t have to be what ABM software vendors sell you. Before you jump into ABM, do your research, take stock of your resources and decide whether ABM will benefit or burden your team. If you’re ready to take it on, start small. Begin by launching a small pilot to test, and document the process for later analysis.