ABM is a team sport: 5 steps to ensuring players work together
Contributor Peter Isaacson outlines concrete steps marketing leaders should take to ensure their Account-Based Marketing initiatives achieve their goals.
“There’s no I in Account-Based Marketing.”
Even really great ABM campaigns can fall flat if the team working behind the scenes isn’t truly integrated. True collaboration isn’t just about meeting on a regular basis, checking off a list of to-dos or going out for happy hour every once in awhile (though the last one certainly helps).
To run winning ABM campaigns that see tangible, measurable success, B2B marketers need to work in lock-step with each other, from Marketing Operations and Demand Generation to Field and Digital Marketing. But what does that look like, exactly? And more importantly, how do you get all the players on your team to follow the same playbook?
Below, I’ve outlined five steps marketers can take to get the ball rolling, build that culture of campaign collaboration and knock their ABM initiatives out of the park.
Step #1: Keep your eye on the ball — understand your target accounts
A well planned ABM campaign starts with a deep understanding of your target accounts. Who are you targeting? What are their needs? What challenges are they currently facing?
Marketing Operations can often answer these questions and help you determine the audiences your campaigns are geared for. While you can most certainly target your entire target account list, you can also take it a step further and narrow your campaigns to fit key segments, which include:
- Industry verticals.
- Sales stage.
- Accounts showing high intent signals, among others.
Depending on the audience you’re targeting, Product Marketing and Sales will play a big role helping you understand who those companies and key contacts are. Once you get the complete picture of your audience, it becomes easier to build messaging and campaigns that resonate.
Step #2: Determine the play — coordinate a set of programs
This step will require the most collaboration from across the entire marketing organization. Marketing teams will need to work cross-functionally with Demand Generation, Content, Social Media, Field, Partner, Customer, Digital and Web marketing to determine the right mix of programs to execute as part of your broader campaign.
For example, let’s say the goal is to accelerate within a particular vertical like Financial Services. To get ABM campaigns up and running for that segment, marketing teams will need to work closely with different functions within marketing, including Product Marketing and Sales, who have a deep understanding of that key vertical, and work with them to build the right messaging.
From there, they can pass the ball to individual program owners from across marketing, who will determine the right mix of programs for that particular segment. Regardless of the programs chosen, Marketing Operations will play a key role in establishing a set of goals for each program and understanding how they all work together within the broader campaign.
Step #3: Your ABM team needs to include Sales
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: if your team isn’t tightly aligned with Sales, there’s a 100% chance your ABM efforts will fail. ABM success only happens when both Sales and Marketing are on the same page. And that doesn’t just mean bringing Sales in during the home-stretch.
Marketing teams need to work closely with Sales from the get-go to agree on the target accounts involved, goals and measurement. From there, support Sales with campaign-specific messaging, including follow-up guidance, messaging and templates, and get their feedback on what’s working and what isn’t for your target accounts. With that information, you can continue to refine your programs and campaigns.
Step #4: Keep score — get the right metrics in place
Perhaps the most important part of any integrated campaign is having the right goals in place, and determining how you’ll measure success. Without the right measurement criteria in place, it’s difficult to understand which programs performed well and, more importantly, which programs didn’t. Without this key information, it’s difficult to iterate and develop successful campaigns in the future.
Marketing Operations will play a crucial role in delivering that information and setting up those models. Ideally, this will be a cross-functional effort, with programs owners from Demand Generation, Field, Partner, Customer, Website, Content and Social Media Marketing weighing in and ensuring they have the data and key insights they need to consistently hit home runs with their programs.
It’s important for the team to share a common set of goals — whether it’s pipeline, opportunities, close rates or some other metric. It’s tough to rally a team around a common objective if you’re not all measuring yourself against a common goal.
Step #5: Make technology your MVP
There are 5,000+ martech vendors out there, some with incredibly sophisticated Artificial Intelligence-enabled capabilities. Make use of them. Technology can help automate and accelerate many steps of your ABM process and deliver the account intelligence your team needs to see success with the strategy. From developing target accounts to coordinating programs to looping in Sales to measurement, there’s a tool out there that can help you go the distance.
Regardless of how small or large your team is, getting ABM programs off the ground is a team sport. By fostering a culture of collaboration with shared goals strategies and technologies, you’ll be well on your way to winning.