Marketing automation has always focused on individual B2B prospects, but traditional sales processes leaned more towards named accounts. Account-based marketing (ABM), which is also sometimes called key account marketing, delivers the best of both worlds. What exactly is ABM? It is account-based marketing automation wherein marketers target accounts. You might think of it as the next generation of marketing automation. It empowers alignment between sales and marketing so that your company can achieve better marketing conversion and sales close rates. It involves precisely targeting by connecting the dots between data, leads, decision makers, and accounts and creating a more holistic marketing prospect.
Essentially, ABM concerns mostly enterprise-level sales organizations viewing prospective or current customer accounts as their own individual markets. After all, one size does not fit all, and each client might as well be their own market, due to how unique their needs might be. Thus, ABM narrows down your focus and looks at each company as a whole (as an individual account in other words) rather than targeting specified persons at the company, as might be done with more traditional marketing and sales campaigns. Inbound marketing, in fact, goes the route of creating relevant and intriguing content that can allow prospects to find you, whereas ABM means you target and reach out to specific accounts based on the data you have available on them. This can open more opportunities for you to work with an account than you would have otherwise.
However, an organization needs to be careful in choosing which clients and prospects are their key accounts. Not all prospects or customers will meet your criteria for being a key strategic account, and you need to concentrate your ABM efforts on those that do.
What makes for a good key account prospect or customer? The criteria could change from company to company and industry to industry. However, a key account for ABM should one that is interested in a long-term business relationship and have the belief (or be brought around to the belief) that you provide products, services, and a level of quality that they won’t find anywhere else.
You should also look at their past history, their previous relationship with you or your competitors or other similar companies (if a previous relationship existed), and their revenues and profitability. Also, you should find out if you and this account have mutual goals that you can accomplish together. If not, there is little point in moving forward.
Aligning your sales and marketing serves as a vital component of ABM. One might argue that marketing and sales teams have trouble working together and can be on different wavelengths at times due to how marketers tend to communicate and engage with people while sales deal with businesses, institutions, and other types of organizations.
ABM necessitates that they come together and create shared goals to enhance both their levels of effectiveness. They need to share data and the feedback they receive from customer and prospective accounts to form a unified effort to identity new accounts as well as communicate and engage with them. Both sales and marketing always need to measuring and optimizing to see what is working overall and what isn’t and tweaking their campaigns to match what they learn.
The importance of data to a united marketing and sales front cannot be overstated. The more information both teams have to work the more they will be able to connect with an account and have a likelier chance of establishing a stronger business relationship with them and moving them along further through the sales cycle. By having a better idea of what matters to an account and how you can help solve their business problems you can create better marketing and sales campaigns to win them over.
Modern B2B marketers live and breathe lead management. However, they need to look beyond individual lead scoring to drive better results. With ABM, you can track a cumulative lead score by account, which provides you with insights into which accounts demonstrate the greatest propensity to buy.
You sales team can really see the overall account—especially with named accounts—and know when to make the right moves to accelerate deals. By knowing who are an account’s influencers and buying committee members, sales knows whom to target and demonstrates a higher level of insight that they can put into action.
ABM means next-generation account management, and you want to be on board for that. The goal should be to optimize the alignment between your B2B sales and marketing teams while also delivering a superior collective customer experience. The tool of choice to deliver on such a feat is marketing automation, due to how it enables you to:
As all businesses are different and have different needs, they’ll each have to build their own frameworks to go about ABM. Your framework might even differ from your competitors, as you might have different resources, goals, and data as well as different perspectives and insights into that data. However, most frameworks will contain something similar to the following steps:
Do not forget that ABM is strategic business marketing. As with anything else, proper preparation and planning must go into it if you are to experience beneficial results. You must know your own business’s capabilities and what types of accounts you can best focus on and how you can reach and connect with them. This involves knowing yourself, knowing your current accounts, and the ones you want to target. The more information you have and the more insights you can develop the stronger your ABM strategy will be. It doesn’t end with the preparation and planning stages of your ABM campaigns, either. You should be constantly taking in new data about your accounts and how you are doing with your marketing and sales to tweak, revamp, and improve your efforts and better tailor your approach to each account. After all, each account will have their own needs and preferences, and you can work to accommodate them. Patience, information, planning, relationship building, knowing when and how to adjust, they all come together in a successful ABM campaign.