ABM, though widely talked about in marketing and sales departments everywhere, it still comes with a lot of baggage. ABM isn’t one-size-fits-all and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term strategy that takes careful planning across multiple divisions and many people in your organization become involved.
With that being said, we’ve heard a lot of different questions (and statements on this topic deserving of some attention and clarification. And a big thanks to DemandBase for sharing theirs (included) with us as well!
Q. Aren’t we doing ABM already by naming and pursuing our target accounts?
A. That’s a start, but true Account-Based Marketing requires an account-centric pursuit of target accounts with a tightly coordinated effort between sales and marketing. Today we’re naming our targets but 1) sales and marketing don’t have a coordinated plan, and 2) we’re pursuing individual leads vs coordinating our activity to best convert the internal buying committee required to green-light our deal.
Q. We already have our best field reps targeting our most important accounts. What am I missing?
A. That’s a great start. But do they know all 6.8 members (on average) of the internal buying committee (based on CEB research)? Do they have strong persona insights into how to pitch each of those individuals? Do they have the tools or processes to coordinate internal consensus building among that group to increase velocity of the deal? Those are some of the benefits of an ABM approach for us moving forward.
Q. This sounds like a program that sales can do on their own, right?
A. Historically that’s been what companies have done, yes, but there’s numerous examples from this year among other B2B companies that are accelerating volume and velocity of target account wins by better coordinating efforts between sales and marketing, and doing it in a more sophisticated, account-oriented way. Yes this requires more investment in resources and content, but our ROI calculator shows that it can be more than worth it based on incremental sales.
Q. Why do we need special tools and content to go after our target accounts?
A. The coordination between sales and marketing, let alone coordination of messages among internal stakeholders, can be extremely difficult if not impossible to manage manually. We’ve talked to other companies doing this, and they highly recommend against trying to do this without the right resources.
Q. Can we just use internal/existing resources to get this started?
A. Yes, especially related to building out our strategy and focus/objectives. But like many new initiatives, our chances of success grow dramatically if we have the right tools to execute.
Q. Doesn’t (insert marketing automation platform name here) do this for us already?
A. Yes and no. Our current programs are optimized to the individual lead within an organization, and don’t yet do an optimal job tracking, coordinating and communicating to the needs of the organization overall. There are tools that can help us expand on what we’re doing with marketing automation to target/focus on our best accounts, leverage buying signals, coordinate activities, increase channels used, etc.
Q. Why doesn’t marketing just focus more, why does this require sales involvement?
A. The larger the account, the more important sales engagement becomes – especially early in the buying journey. These accounts are too important to assign them just to marketing or just to sales. We need a coordinated approach to maximize each touchpoint and communication, to push those deals farther faster. That’s the approach that will get us the best increase in sales in the most efficient manner.
Q. Can we do a trial or proof-of-concept phase of this first?
A. Absolutely, let’s just define what that means and be specific about what impact it can have on the business vs. the full roll-out. A phased roll-out will help us move forward more quickly, but there will still be opportunity cost for the deals we aren’t impacting and closing along the way. We just need to be intentional about the trade-offs.
Q. ABM is going to be expensive. How can I have budget for this?
A. If you evaluate ABM on a cost per target account basis, it’s typically far more efficient than traditional marketing methods. And since you’re focused on your most important and high-value accounts, overall acquisition costs (as a percentage of the deal and lifetime value) typically go down, not up!
Q. We’re already too busy, how are we going to implement an ABM strategy as well?
A. Many companies look at ABM as an “or” not an “and” strategy. They’re replacing other non-performing marketing efforts with ABM to increase their ROI and contribution to revenue.
Q. There won’t be enough leads from ABM to hit our pipeline and revenue goals. Why do it?
A. With ABM, lead volume isn’t what’s important. Accounts are your focus. And each engaged prospect is worth significantly more than a traditional MQL. We’re not focused on lead volume, moving forward it’s all about sales pipeline contribution,net-new opportunities and marketing impact on closed business. Better alignment, better focus, better results.
Have you thought about any of these questions above? What other questions do you have that we missed?