According to recent Gartner insights, the B2B customer buying journey is becoming more complex with 6-10 buyers involved with each purchase. Today’s B2B buyer has conducted independent research and engages less with sales teams than before.

Even though account-centric strategy has been employed for decades, more recently Account Based Marketing (ABM) is being prioritized by modern B2B marketers to address complex B2B selling.

From our conversations with marketers, the CMO role has evolved with more accountability to influence and deliver revenue growth. Advancement in technology has created a new level of sophistication to target accounts in a personalised way.

CMOs talk about the challenges with marketing sourced and influenced leads and the handover to sales. Organisations that have adopted an account-based approach report on the benefits for the sales and marketing. By going through the process to align on goals and audience, account engagement and sales outreach, there is a joint ownership on the account success.

Organisations need a minimum level of maturity to succeed with an account-based approach. We regularly receive inquiries about Account Based Marketing and the best way to start, so we compiled this guide.

Here are the common terms you’ll hear when starting out with Account Based Marketing.

What is ABM?

ABM is a strategic approach to revenue growth that aligns Sales, Marketing and Customer Success teams towards the most profitable customer profile. This enables organisations to drive a cohesive approach to content, targeting and sales engagement to acquire and expand accounts in a scalable way.

Criteria for adopting ABM

ABM drives excellence with accounts with specific growth potential. When building a Target Account List (TAL), there are three important considerations: high-value revenue deal, long sales cycle and a presence of a buying party. Variations of these criteria will determine the approach to target your accounts.

Tiered Strategy

There are different approaches depending on the characteristics of the account segments.

1:1 Approach- hyper personalized approach for high value accounts with approximately 1 to 10 accounts in the target list.

1:Few- Personalised by solution, use-case or industry, for medium size accounts with clusters of 10 to 100 in the target list.

1:Many- A broader automated approach for smaller accounts with 100+ accounts.

Determining my Ideal Client Profile

Identifying your Ideal Client Profile (ICP) will guide the marketing and sales effort for each account. Your ICP requires measurable inputs to recognize valuable account traits. Characteristics such as firmographics, technographics, engagement are combined to achieve an account view.

The Buying Party

A deep knowledge of the personas in the buying party will drive the effectiveness of the program targeting. Talk to your customers and prospects to understand their responsibilities, challenges and their role in the buying process. Are they the user-buyer, influencer, business lead or economic buyer. Build persona profiles and make them visible to your team so decisions are driven around this.

Why is Sales and Marketing Alignment important?

A successful ABM program requires sales, customer success and marketing alignment. Common target account lists and revenue targets will be measured, and the teams will develop an operational rhythm with regular account planning. The collaborative approach works because it develops a sales and marketing hand-in-glove effort to move accounts down the funnel.

Account Orchestration

The right marketing and sales tech stack will be required to achieve the level of insights that drive ABM success. ABM technology solutions allow you to understand the stage of each account in the buying cycle to trigger omni-channel marketing and sales activities. The insights from the reports will drive the sales and marketing behaviour and aid with conversion.

Intent signals in the ‘Dark Funnel’

The Dark Funnel is that addressable market that sits above your B2B funnel but where account activity has typically been invisible to you. Best-in-class ABM programs provide visibility of ‘intent signals’ from accounts that have not engaged with you, or may never. Sophisticated technology (including predictive and AI tools) provide third- or first-party intent data and maps that data against the engagement activity at an account level.

This gives you valuable insight into where each account is in the buying cycle.

Get Personal

Account based targeting works with personalized content. As accounts move down the funnel, the buying party will receive content that is personalized with by stage, persona, the industry or use-case. The content is deployed at different intervals based on intent signals. This is in contrast to a broadcast communication model, which can have significant wastage.

Content and channels are customized at each stage of the journey.

Measurement and Refinement

This is not a set and forget program. Once the ABM program is in market, it’s time for the Marketing, Sales and Customer Success team to align. With a regular cadence, the internal team will review reporting with account and account group performance and prioritise focus. Key metrics include measurement of engagement, consideration-to-opportunity conversion, marketing attributed pipeline and deal value and velocity. The team will test channels, content and timing and refine to fine tune performance.

Account Based Marketing is an approach worth exploring, however this model does not suit every organisation.

If you would like to know if ABM is right for your business, it would be worthwhile talking to one of our ABM experts. Get in touch with us today to arrange a complimentary consultation.

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Answers to common questions about Account-Based Marketing

Lisa Degen
Focuses on creating effective account-centric marketing strategy for clients across the globe. With almost 20 years' experience in B2B marketing, Lisa guides organisations to transform from general marketing to targeted account-based programs (ABM). Works closely with marketing and sales teams to deliver strategic growth across existing clients and new accounts. Lisa currently is a leader for account-based strategy with Green Hat.