Although the concept of direct, targeted account marketing is not new, a disciplined and coordinated focus on account-based marketing (ABM) across the B2B marketing industry has come on like gangbusters over the past 12 months. Numerous service and software providers have joined the movement and are providing much-needed tools to enable more precise, focused and multi-channel engagement with specific Named Account targets.
Along with Terminus, we’ve been highlighting several B2B marketers at the forefront of account-based marketing in 2016. So far we have featured Julia Stead, director of demand generation at Invoca, and Christopher Engman, founder of Vendemore.
How and when should an organization begin leveraging ABM practices?
If I were to give you the “hype” answer, it would be businesses should start right away. But ABM isn’t about hype. It’s a strategy that really involves a thoughtful approach. Organizations really can decide to adopt ABM practices at any time. The barriers aren’t high as long as there’s a real commitment to the process. For me, the “why” begins by thinking about the size of your Total Addressable Market (TAM). That’s the key starting point.
If you have a really small TAM, then Account-Based Marketing just makes so much sense for your business. You already are going after a smaller, defined group of accounts. ABM will help you focus – in a very personalized way – on having greater success penetrating those companies. And if you have a larger TAM, adopting an Account-Based Marketing strategy will help you identify the most relevant targets that have the greatest potential of producing revenue.
How have you previously done enterprise or “Named Account” marketing, and how has your ABM methodology changed that?
I have not done “Market of One” Named Account marketing that was focused entirely on a single, enterprise account. But my Account-Based Marketing process was born out of my experience with enterprise accounts at BloomReach. When I worked there as a marketing technologist, we had a very well-defined TAM. It required an intense focus to break into those named accounts. For nearly two years, if I created leads outside our target account list, it was almost worse than doing nothing at all. And the curious thing is that we weren’t even calling what we did Account-Based Marketing.
So I hesitate to say that my methodology changed when I came to LeanData last year. It was just a matter of applying the lessons learned at BloomReach to a new market. One of the key initial challenges here was narrowing down our accounts to a more manageable list of the highest value targets where we could focus our energy and resources. That’s ABM 101. But in truth, the overall strategy was already the way I had been seeing the business world for years.
What are your best practices for integrating ABM efforts with your sales team’s enterprise sales strategy?
At LeanData, we’re big believers in the “smarketing” approach of combining sales and marketing. It’s not just that the two teams sit next to each other in our office. We really are fully integrated. In a sense, we don’t even think about sales and marketing. It’s a single revenue organization. Every idea starts at that intersection of sales and marketing. There’s a constant feedback loop between the teams about what’s working and where we can improve. That dialogue makes sure that we’re all on the same page. It ensures that marketing is providing sales with the right support. And sales is communicating about the quality of accounts that marketing is activating. I know it sounds a little cliche, but there really is no “us” and “them.” We have the attitude that we’re all in this together – and our ABM efforts are at the center of that.
How have you integrated ABM with other marketing efforts – including inbound marketing? Or has ABM replaced other, less effective marketing efforts?
LeanData has a great story to tell about blending inbound and outbound marketing. We have a much larger TAM than we can pursue. We’ve only penetrated a tiny fraction of our potential market. So it has been crucial for us to bring together inbound and outbound in a different way. There’s been a shift in our approach. Instead on an entirely outbound process where we’re only hunting, we’re also luring people to LeanData with content and messaging. When there’s inbound interest, indicating that an account has the pains that LeanData solves, it triggers our outbound hunting strategy.
There’s a real blending of the two. At the same time, ABM has helped us stay focused on just the marketing tactics that work. It’s all about making sure that we spend every dollar wisely. Instead of doing activities that may or may not be having an impact, we have a laser focus on very targeted actions where we have a high degree of confidence that we’re influencing the right people in important accounts.
What are some of the primary tools that have helped you implement and execute ABM?
Here at LeanData, we eat our own dog food. Our Sales Accelerator product automatically matches leads to accounts. Leads never get lost. They always go to the right sales rep. It provides our own sales and marketing teams with greater context about their targets because they have complete visibility from an account perspective. That technology forms the foundation for the most accurate reporting I’ve ever seen. If you don’t have good data, you can’t make good decisions. LeanData’s Account-Based Reporting powers ABM by allowing action to be directed with a push of a button after intelligence has been gleaned from reviewing past performance. Beyond our products, we have retooled the way we use Marketo to have a more account-based focus.
We spend less time on lead statuses and more time on nurturing accounts. We also have seen early success with Madison Logic for expanding our audience with content syndication. We have run some really interesting account-based advertising campaigns with Terminus targeting the education of late stage buyers. We’re also doing a pilot with predictive analytics company EverString to help determine target accounts that have the strongest propensity to buy from us.
What are your primary metrics for ABM progress and success?
This question is in LeanData’s wheelhouse because this is exactly what we do as a company. We realize that in order to do ABM successfully, you have to look at both quality and quantity metrics. Each side tells only part of the story. It’s not complete. So you need to find the balance between those two dimensions in order to find the greatest insights. We do that by helping businesses capture all the relevant touches in the buyer’s journey and then showing which of those interactions had the most impact. Speaking in general terms the measurements are different for each stage of the buyer’s journey that we’re trying to accelerate.
When you’re thinking about closing more deals, you have to consider the multi-touch influence of past bookings along with the true statistical impact of those campaigns. When you’re talking about creating more pipeline, we’re looking at where we have sourced pipe in the past as well as the role of campaigns on historical close rates. And at the top of the funnel, we are figuring out which campaigns best penetrate new target accounts in combination with pipeline those campaigns sourced.
Who’s writing and talking about ABM these days that you’re learning from?
Jon Miller at Engagio is a great megaphone for ABM. And nobody has done more to spread the word about ABM than Sangram Vajre at Terminus. Sometimes it feels like he’s everywhere. I think Craig Rosenberg at TOPO really gets it as well.
What influencers, bloggers or peers have been influential in your own ABM development?
The people who have been the most influential on my view of ABM are our customers. I love hearing real stories and experiences of how people are succeeding with ABM. I much prefer that to blog posts that are cheerleading pieces about how ABM is the next big thing without providing much substance. A perfect example of a company thinking about ABM in an advanced way is Invoca. They have written some really interesting things about how they’ve implemented ABM that are shaping my own view of how you go to market with an account-based strategy.
My peers at companies like BloomReach, EverString and Demandbase are people that I pay close attention to from an ABM perspective. Similarly, I’ve been fascinated by the approach of several early pioneers of Account-Based Sales Development. The three that immediately come to mind are TOPO’s Rosenberg, Lars Nilsson at Cloudera and Matt Amundson at EverString. SalesHacker is also a wonderful resource.
What excites you about the #flipmyfunnel movement?
The cool thing for me is seeing ABM moving beyond hype to actionable tactics that really are influencing a company’s top line. For a time, ABM seemed to be more about buzz words and promises. Now, we’re seeing results. We’re all learning about how businesses are having success with actual campaigns and programs based on ABM. They’re moving the needle for their companies in ways that others can replicate. That’s why #flipmyfunnel is a fun way that captures the essence of the movement.
What is one thing you want to share that people should expect to learn at the #flipmyfunnel conference?
For me, it’s simple: You are not in this alone. You are part of a growing number of marketers who are looking beyond batch-and-blast techniques. There are other professionals who share your belief that the pathway to success is with highly personalized marketing that forms one-to-one relationships with prospects. There’s an entire community of people out there who have the same vision as you do.