Account Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming the standard approach for generating new sales opportunities for tech companies. It means selecting your top priority accounts and focusing your promotional efforts on them to drive higher value sales opportunities.
Business-to-Business companies need a steady flow of new sales leads. Over the past 15 years they have adopted a range of technologies including marketing automation, online ads and email marketing to improve sales prospecting and lead generation.
But B2B lead generation still has some serious challenges:
- The results of some tactics, particularly inbound marketing, have been flattening out over the past few years, producing less sales leads.
- Sales and marketing teams are finding it difficult to “cut through the noise” to identify and connect with the more senior level decision makers and buying teams. Those buyers at target companies are bombarded with a lot of messages from a lot of vendors.
- The technologies are often managed separately, run by separate teams e.g. marketing automation by the Marketing department, outbound email by the Sales team. This means lead generation can be unpredictable, with peaks and troughs and inconsistent results, and poor linkage between sales and marketing teams.
- Most of these technologies, like inbound marketing, work better when you are targeting short term, lower value “transactional” sales. They do not work so well for higher value opportunities that have longer sales cycles (e.g. 6 to 9 months).
- Lead generation teams focus on individuals (‘leads’), but decisions on the buying side are made by groups of people who work together at an ‘account’ – influencers, gatekeepers, decision makers etc.
“Account Based Marketing” – or ABM – is an approach that helps address these issues so you can generate higher value sales opportunities.
Some key principles in ABM are:
- You focus your resources on your best targets. So you will be targeting less prospects, but you will be focusing on those accounts that show the greatest potential, and running a more intense campaign to them, which will deliver better results.
- You carefully select ‘Accounts’ to target, not individual ‘leads’ – Account Selection
- You do some homework on those accounts, so you have useful insights prior to contacting them – Account Insights
- You develop promotional actions that are tailored toward the accounts and (in some cases) right down to the individual being contacted. – ABM Promotional tactics and Personalisation
- You use multiple channels for your outreach tactics – not one single channel. These tactics can include business meetings, direct mail, phone outreach, email, social media promotion, online display ads and personalised web pages. – Multi channel
- You coordinate those tactics so that you reach out in a consistent, systematic way to all the people at your target accounts – sometimes known as ‘Orchestrating an ABM Play’.
- You monitor and measure progress and ‘engagement’ at the account level, not by looking at how individual leads react to a particular tactic (e.g. email opens or clicks on links) – Engagement
Why ABM Now?
B2B companies are adopting the ABM approach because:
- New technologies make it easier to deliver ABM campaigns – from digital direct mail services to targeted display ads, intent data and web personalisation.
- Deal size – Standard high volume, broad reach demand generation activities are not working for bigger deals.
- Higher close rate – a targeted, multi-channel account-based approach produces higher close rates.
- Targeting individual leads rather than accounts doesn’t work for longer-term sales cycles – companies have to use an “account” approach.
- Lead generation results are flattening out from inbound marketing both in volume and quality.
- Outbound sales teams are finding it hard to “cut through the noise” targeting individual leads using one or two channels – highly targeted, multi-channel approaches are more successful.
When do you use ABM?
You can think of your accounts as forming a pyramid, with the most valuable at the top and the lowest value accounts at the bottom.
- For top tier ABM one-to-one accounts, those that have the highest potential value, you pull out all the stops. This means a time-intensive campaign that includes deep research, one-to-one personalization of tactics (e.g. handwritten notes sent to prospects) and carefully crafted orchestrations based on specific facts you have learned about the account.
- For the 2nd tier ABM Lite accounts you do some account research and customize the tactics at least to the company level. However, you don’t personalise right down to the individual level and you make greater use of automation e.g. targeted display ads, email, digital direct mail.
- For 3rd tier accounts you use a combination of outbound lead generation tactics such as outreach emails, phone prospecting, social and ads. But in these cases you don’t customise per individual or per company. You will usually tailor the messaging per industry sector and perhaps by role, but you use the same basic message sequences for large groups of targets who have the same profile.
- For the lowest tier, you can use a standard a one-size-fits all ‘broadcast’ promotional message that is seen by a large number of individual contacts. This will help raise awareness among broad groups of contacts but will generate less opportunities.
What are the benefits of ABM?
- Efficiency and focus – you focus most of your time and resources on the best opportunities i.e. the accounts that are most likely to convert for the highest value.
- Higher value deals – using careful selection of the target accounts, plus account-specific messaging, persistent touches and multi-channel follow-up enables you to identify larger opportunities.
- Building relationships, create business conversations – ABM lets you develop insights into the accounts and develop relevant business conversations that reflect that this is a long-term, B2B, complex sale
- Linking your teams more effectively – ABM requires close cooperation between marketing and sales teams to deliver high impact campaigns. Running an ABM pilot program will remove barriers and build connections between the teams, leading to more effective engagement with prospects.
Find out more
If you want to learn more about ABM, or see what is involved in running a pilot, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org