Words by By Alon Fittinghoff
B2B marketing organisations adopt Account Based Marketing and Sales (ABMS) strategies as specific targeted accounts are regarded as individual markets in their own right. Any successful ABMS initiative requires both the collaboration and commitment of various teams and talent.
What sets Account Based Marketing and Sales apart from other marketing initiatives? The high level of relevance and personalisation of the messaging created. Great insight builds great communication. According to Demographica CEO and founder, Warren Moss, Account Based Marketing is making a comeback.
Account Based Marketing and Sales: process
In the B2B marketing context, Account Based Marketing and Sales can best be described as the process of singling out your key accounts and gathering as much insight on them as possible. Then using this insight to align your proposition to the challenge(s) they’re facing with the aim of crafting a personalised marketing campaign in order to win their business.
It’s important to remember that the implementation of any ABMS initiative is complex and time consuming. This means that at times, your teams may feel understandably despondent. This makes commitment and a structured approach to the implementation phase crucial in working towards successfully achieving the end-goal.
Account Based Marketing and Sales: 8-step framework
Establish the Account Based Marketing and Sales approach before considering any tactics, data, or technologies.
Consider the following four main decision factors:
- your available resources
- team structure
- the size of the prize
- the likelihood of conversion
Three different approaches should be taken based on these considerations, namely 1:1, 1:few and 1:many.
Select your target accounts once you have chosen your approach. At this stage you may already have your top accounts in mind, but it is imperative to follow a process to ensure the correct selection. As an account-centric initiative, arguably the most important step when it comes to Account Based Marketing and Sales is the selection of target accounts. As such, collaboration between sales, marketing, customer services and any other front-line team is essential to ensure various perspectives are contributing to the decision.
It’s critical to consider which data types you’re selecting. Often organisations select accounts based on firmographic data only – a target company’s industry, revenue bracket, and number of employees. However, it is of equal importance to analyse data points that indicate a company’s behaviour and activities. These data types include technographic, 3rd-party intent and 1st-party intent data.
After defining your set of target accounts, the next step in the framework is gathering of account insights. This includes collecting key information about the target account’s sector, stakeholders, the competitor landscape, financials, performance, operating environment and culture.
Significant effort is required during this phase. The greater the depth of insight gathered, the more relevant and customised the communication outputs in terms of messaging and content development become.
B2B buyers are still people. It’s therefore important to understand who is buying and how they buy.
When it comes to contact identification, this phase is two-fold. Firstly, identify the Decision-Making Unit (DMU) of the target account. You can identify the buying process by having sight of the DMU, the decision-makers, influencers, and other key stakeholders in the buying process. Then select key account prospects for target engagement.
Secondly, gather and enrich information on these key account prospects. Use tactics like call-programmes, 1st-party / owner data analysis, email exploration, data purchasing, and desktop research for this process.
Messaging and Content Development
What sets Account Based Marketing and Sales apart from other marketing initiatives is the high level of relevance and personalisation of the messaging created. Great insight builds great communication. Harness the valuable insights from previous phases to develop a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) tailored to the target account.
An effective UVP should aim towards providing a clear statement describing:
- the benefits of the offering
- how this offering solves the target account’s needs, and
- the competitive differentiator of the offering.
Create or repurpose content to deliver your target message in a way that creates strong resonance with your key account prospects.
Following content and messaging refinement, the Account Based Marketing and Sales orchestration phase involves the planning, technical set-up, and configuration of the platforms and systems required to optimally deliver on the ABMS programme.
The actualisation of efforts described in steps 1 to 5 above take place during the engagement phase. It is during this phase that all your previous efforts come together. It’s finally time to engage with the right audience, on the right platform, using the right content and messaging. Your research from the accounts insights phase informs your engagement tactics.
Measurement and Optimisation
As with all well-executed marketing initiatives, an ABMS programme requires an iterative approach.
It is only through ongoing accurate measurement and reporting of all ABMS tactics, content, and messaging that an ABMS programme can be continually refined and optimised to ensure maximum value creation.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to B2B marketing, audiences are finite and so it becomes even more critical to ensure that all efforts are measured to accurately gauge the real impact and Return On Investment (ROI).
ABMS not only transforms the effectiveness of an organisations B2B marketing efforts but results in broader business benefits such as collaborative innovation. Its tailored and customised approach, with all combined efforts based on deep and contextual insights, can prove to be an invaluable reputation and relationship building tactic.
Of course, it goes without saying that it all also results in a greater and measurable ROI.
Ultimately however, any effective ABMS initiative requires a predefined, structured approach. This 8-step Account Based Marketing and Sales framework aims to provide a guide to what will hopefully result in ABMS success for you and your organisation.