Is my Business Ready to Implement Account-Based Marketing?
April 27, 2021 •Mason Cosby
An account-based marketing strategy can completely revolutionize the way you approach your business. When you shift your focus from getting leads to partnering with target accounts, everything from marketing to customer support changes.
Though it’s called account-based marketing, to effectively implement ABM, you need buy-in from your company. So before you start to make the transition to ABM, consider the questions outlined in this article.
Is ABM Right for You?
In our previous article, “What Kinds of Businesses should use Account-Based Marketing?” We outlined what businesses will find the most success with ABM.
To quickly summarize, ABM will work for you if:
- You sell products or services to other businesses (B2B Companies).
- You have an ongoing business relationship with your customers.
- You solve a specific problem for an industry, a company role, or a stage of business growth.
- If you have larger deal sizes ($1,000+).
- Have a longer sales cycle (2 Weeks at least).
If you don’t match these criteria, it’s likely you may not see the results you’d want from your marketing efforts. You are likely to find more success from an inbound marketing approach.
If you match the criteria above, you likely will find great success from an ABM approach! Congrats! Let’s start to audit your readiness to implement.
What Does Your Offer Cost?
What you offer will have a significant impact on your success in implementing ABM. ABM creates hyper-focused marketing designed to convert specific accounts. A natural by-product of this will be engaging fewer potential customers.
Though this sounds counter-intuitive, engaging fewer leads and focusing your efforts on best-fit customers will increase your deal close rate.
An increase in your close rate is a great metric but is also potentially misleading. ABM doesn’t guarantee an increase in the number of deals you close. ABM provides a higher likelihood of closing the deals you target.
To put it plainly, if you gave two companies $150,000 to spend on marketing, the company selling a $50,000 product will likely have an easier time seeing a high ROI than a company selling a $5,000 product.
With a $50,000 product, you’d need to convert 3 customers to start seeing a return. With a $5,000 product, you’d need to convert 30 customers. With the ABM methodology, the goal is to aim at a small number of high-value customers. It’s a lot more difficult to aim small when you need 30 closes to start seeing a return on your investment.
Important Note: An ABM strategy can work incredibly effectively by creating lower-priced introductory products as long as you have a strong up-selling strategy. Your products and services likely work well together. If you can onboard an account for one product, the account will likely benefit from your other offers.
Regardless of your introductory pricing, a strong up-selling strategy will increase account lifetime values and long-term ROI.
An effective ABM strategy creates growth, expansion, and engagement with both new accounts and increases opportunities inside current accounts. If you’re seeking scalable ways to effectively grow your closed revenue for the long term, ABM will work well for you.
Who Purchases Your Product or Service?
It’s critical at this juncture to look at who’s typically involved in the purchase decision.
Let’s look at the buying decision process first:
- Who is involved in this process?
- Is it a single person who signs the agreement?
- Does the sale require small group approval?
- Who are the key decision-makers your business has to interact with to close the deal?
The best results come from an approach that engages multiple key decision-makers in a single account with hyper-targeted personalized marketing. Access to key decision-makers is vital. ABM can still work by accessing them through a gatekeeper, but it’s likely best to transition your focus to a new target account if the key decision-makers don’t engage.
This marketing strategy is a match made in heaven for leaders that work directly with VPs, executives, and C-Suites.
Do You Have a Target Account List?
Has anyone in your company mentioned specific companies you’d work well with?
Has anyone said something like, “If a company reminds you of ______, they would probably be a good customer?”
As you assess key decision-makers within your current (and future) customers, take a moment to also ask yourself:
“Has anyone in my business ever created a target account list?”
This list is more than an ideal customer profile. It transforms a list into a collection of real companies who will massively benefit from partnering with your company.
The real power of ABM lies in a high-quality target account list. You eliminate confusion and provide a clear path forward for your entire company. Everyone knows who you are trying to work with, how to grow the company and their role.
What is Your Sales Process?
Once you have created your target list, you need to assess your sales process.
Some questions you may want to consider are:
- What triggers our formal sales process?
- Who is typically involved in our sales process?
- Does everyone have a clear understanding of their role in the sales process?
- What are the steps in our sales process?
- What is the purpose of each step in the process?
- How do we personalize the sales process to each account?
By walking through these questions, you can identify some potential weak points needed for improving your overall process. Documentation of your current sales process is crucial for success.
With an account-based marketing approach, you will use the insights gained from the questions you asked regarding your current processes to build a better sales process. Your new process will secure larger annual contracts, close more new revenue, and streamline your entire process.
The right documentation is the bedrock for a solid sales process. The most effective implementation of an ABM sales process comes from trends identified through documentation.
If you have a well-documented and established sales process, ABM is well within reach.
If your current sales process lacks clarity and documentation, start by clarifying your current process. You simply can’t improve a process when you aren’t sure exactly what the process is.
The more insights you have into your sales processes, the better marketing will collaborate and work alongside the rest of the organization to hit key business objectives.
How Long is Your Sales Process?
ABM is a long-term marketing strategy. ABM only works well when there is enough time to build a meaningful relationship with the prospect before buying. To craft personalized marketing for accounts will take time.
With this in mind, how long does it take to close a deal with your current customers?
If the sales cycle is longer, it will work well with an account-based marketing approach. ABM is about the long game of turning key accounts into advocates that also become up-sell opportunities.
Quick turnaround sales cycles don’t provide the time needed to produce long-term ridiculous results. Rather than managing more accounts with smaller deals, sales are better off managing fewer accounts with larger deals and ROI. The approach to focus on few accounts with larger deals functions well within a longer sales cycle.
Important Note: If customers interacting with your business operate in more of a self-service way, ABM would potentially hurt your business.
ABM relies on a highly personalized, interactive sales process. If you don’t have a sales team, and your customers can buy without ever speaking to someone, it may be best not to implement an ABM strategy. If you’d like guidance regarding your specific use case, feel free to schedule a call today with our growth consultant.
What Metrics Do You Track?
To effectively implement account-based marketing, you need to measures pre-ABM, present-ABM, and post-campaign metrics. These metrics are crucial to improve future campaigns, sales strategies, marketing strategies, and organizational business objectives.
As you looking at your metrics, you need first to understand what you’re currently measuring. An ABM-ready business will measure the number of leads and the conversion of those leads into opportunities and customers. Though you will transition to thinking in terms of accounts rather than leads, having accurate records of these metrics will make the transition much smoother for the entire organization.
Additionally, it is critical to have definitions in place for each lifecycle stage, including:
- Marketing qualified lead
- Sales qualified lead (or Sales Accepted Lead)
If you have these definitions set in your organization and you measure lead conversions, you are headed in the right direction for ABM.
If you don’t presently have agreed-on definitions for these terms or you don’t currently measure your lead conversions, take some time in your next meeting to create some agreed-upon definitions. Without organizational alignment, an ABM strategy won’t find success.
What Technology Do You Have in Place?
For long-term success with an ABM strategy, you need the appropriate technology. To start effectively implementing an ABM strategy, you need a solid technology infrastructure that includes a:
- Customer Relationship Management (HubSpot)
- Marketing Automation System (HubSpot)
- Targeted ABM Advertising Tools (Terminus)
- Contact Data ID and Augmentation Tool (SalesIntel)
Many companies want to jump straight into implementing technology. The tech stack is often the most exciting part. These pieces of technology are incredibly powerful and can create great marketing and sales opportunities.
With that said, jumping straight to the technology without the strategy will not bring the return on your investment. Technology only works when matched with the right strategy.
Buying marketing technology without an appropriate strategy would be like a fourteen-year-old buying a car. It’s incredibly exciting and sounds super nice, but it was a huge investment that won’t benefit anyone.
Do You Have Content?
A successful account-based marketing strategy depends partly on the right content reaching the right audience at the right time. To start implementing ABM, it’s crucial to ensure your organization already has content or the ability to create meaningful, targeted content to support an ABM initiative.
If your company doesn’t have the staff to create targeted content or doesn’t have the insights essential to targeted content creation, this will be a significant roadblock to success with ABM.
If your company can create content and the appropriate tech stack to engage target accounts, you will be receiving data on your campaign as you publish new content. If you let some campaigns run with these pieces alone, you will likely find some success.
To further increase your potential to close deals, you must optimize your website for conversions. Incorporate personalization where possible, form optimization, and readily available additional content post-conversion.
Before moving on with an ABM action plan, ensure you optimize your website for personalization or conversions.
Is Your Organization Aligned?
As mentioned before, an ABM strategy is more than just a marketing strategy. Effective ABM creates alignment across the entire organization towards the goal of closing and serving specific customers to the best of your company’s ability.
No more siloed departments competing for the spotlight. Everyone is in this together to hit key business objectives.
Though this section may be the smallest, this section probably will take the most time and effort to achieve. You will likely encounter pushback from other departments. To accomplish this well, focus on getting buy-in from a few key players in each department. Once you have their buy-in, ask them to continually advocate for ABM and to remind everyone of the success it will bring everyone involved.
So… Are You Ready?
You have walked through a series of questions to determine if you are ready to implement an account-based marketing strategy.
These are some difficult questions to answer. Some of the questions posed could have made you feel like ABM would never be a strategy you could implement.
Remember three things.
- An ABM strategy is a long-term strategy.
- An ABM strategy is a fundamental shift in the way you do business.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your ABM plan won’t be either...
Full implementation of an ABM strategy will take some time, but it’s worth advocating for.
Additionally, if you’d like some help advocating for and implementing an ABM strategy, we are here to help. Schedule a call today to talk with our growth consultant.
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