By Maria Geokezas, Director of Client Services – Heinz Marketing

Top two priorities for B2B Marketers in 2016 include ‘Generating more high-quality leads’ and ‘Aligning marketing and sales’.  And with one of the highest ROI’s within B2B marketing, it comes as no surprise, that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has become the go-to strategy that companies of all shapes and sizes are rushing to implement.  In fact, 92% of companies recognize the value in ABM and 60% plan to invest in technology to implement ABM to better align sales and marketing.*  (From a 2015 report by Sirius Decisions, whose very own ABM expert Megan Heuer will be the keynote speaker at our upcoming Full Funnel Marketing event June 16th in Seattle.)

But how do you know if your company is ready for ABM? 

The success of an ABM strategy goes well beyond your company’s ability to define and then focus marketing efforts on the best-fit accounts.  If your company isn’t dedicated to making ABM work, your cost per new account acquisition could go through the roof.  And you could destroy your future sales potential with you best accounts.

7 areas to assess your organization’s readiness for ABM. 

  • Objectives: As marketing organizations move from activity-based to revenue and results driven, business and marketing objectives must be aligned top-to-bottom and across functional departments.  ABM is a corporate strategy, not a lead generation strategy.  If there isn’t a full funnel approach to the way leadership, sales management and marketing thinks about the business, your organization needs more education before embarking on an account-based approach.
  • Customer Identification: ABM starts with a common definition of the target customer.  There are two important points here.  First, this definition is more specific than what is used in traditional lead generation models where you prioritize quantity over quality.  In ABM, you target the best-fit lead, one that is potentially a good fit for your business as defined by a set of criteria based on your ideal customer profile.  Second, both sales and marketing have to agree on the definition of ‘best-fit’.
  • Buyers’ Journey: The buyers’ journey is no longer about one buyer.  More frequently, a purchase decision is made by a committee.  Understanding the different roles within the committee, from user to influencer to decision-maker to approval-authority, ensures that once you identify the best-fit account, you know how to gain coverage and expand your influence.
  • Content: ABM relies heavily on content because it is about building relationships rather than increasing transactions.  Companies with a more mature content engine – one that is aligned to the different stages within the buyers’ journey, addresses all the different needs and pain points of the members of that committee and then empowers the sales team to use the content – has a significantly easier time building relationships.
  • Technology: ABM is not a new strategy.  Because of the higher costs, it used to be a practice that was used to sell to enterprise exclusively.  But now, new technology and tools enable marketing organizations of all sizes to utilize ABM for smaller-sized clients.  ABM tools have helped to enable the alignment of sales and marketing – by offering a common platform to work from – but more importantly they have created cost efficiencies for smaller-sized organizations to do ABM.
  • Measurement: No longer is success measured by clicks and conversions.  Success metrics for ABM must be consistent and complementary between marketing and sales and go beyond lead tracking.  Instead, Jon Miller (who will be speaking at our Full Funnel Marketing event in Seattle June 16th), CEO and Founder of Engagio, advocates for metrics that measure coverage, awareness, engagement, program impact and influence.  These metrics showcase the direct influence marketers have on the sales pipeline.
  • Marketing and Sales Alignment: None of this ABM stuff means a thing if you don’t have a coordinated effort between marketing and sales.  Sure, the tools enable the two groups to collaborate, but if the culture and the leadership between the two groups do not value working together, your ABM strategy is doomed.  Well-organized ABM programs enable marketers to work more closely with sales teams toward shared account objectives. Together, you can build deeper, more relevant relationships with executives in top tier accounts which generate the most revenue.

Want to learn more about ABM?

If you still can’t tell if your organization is ready for ABM, or if you just want to learn more, join us and a bevy of nationally recognized ABM experts for the Full Funnel Marketing event June 16, 2016 in Seattle.

* As reported by Sirius Decision April 15, 2015