In-depth ABM: What it means to get inside of opportunity and why it’s important
The rise of account-based marketing has spurred a shift in how marketers think about accounts. How to develop this more nuanced and effective approach.
As B2B marketers have become more sophisticated and more broadly adopted the tools of the trade, account-based marketing (ABM) has practically become standard operating procedure. An account-based strategy and approach are now the point of entry, uniting marketing and sales in their efforts to be more consultative as a whole, looking at accounts in their entirety rather than taking an isolated focus on individuals within a buying committee.
Yet, more often than not, organizations freeze when they hear the term “account-based marketing.” That’s because they often have preconceived notions about what ABM is, how they should deploy it or who the stakeholders need to be.
One of a couple of roadblocks usually arises first: Either the organization doesn’t have an account list or it isn’t quite ready yet, as other stakeholders own that process. In reality, sales already has an active account list; they just need to share it with marketing.
Enter something I like to call opportunity development — the beating heart of ABM. This higher state reflects a richer understanding of the concept of opportunity as something more than a single sale with an organization or decision-maker.
The smartest marketers are moving away from a fragmented, transactional mode and undertaking more sophisticated methodologies like journey optimization that incorporates comprehensive nurturing strategies. By looking at entire journeys rather than single moments when a company interacts with its prospects and customers, marketers can dynamically define their account lists. Taking this approach allows them to continuously influence active prospects and drive revenue.
Account-based opportunity development helps marketing and sales teams stay aligned and focused on impacting revenue every single step of the way. What does it mean to truly work an account opportunity from the inside out? Let’s take a look at the facets of an opportunity-based approach.
Consultative vs. transactional selling
The most effective sales organizations have developed sophisticated playbooks for their reps. In this model, salespeople provide a more relevant experience for a prospect, ensuring they know that the vendor understands who they are and what they need.
For marketing and sales to be aligned, marketing programs must provide similar solutions-oriented messaging. In my experience, this approach has proven to have a more direct impact on revenue than traditional, static, top-of-the-funnel approaches.
Buying committees vs. single deciders
The consensus sale is critical, and marketers now understand that their greatest successes come from a broader account-based focus, rather than an individual-contact-based approach.
To optimize for this reality, you need to change how you measure performance and rate your success, while also adopting new tactics to impact that success. You must focus on simultaneously influencing different interests and deciders, based on their pain points, to stimulate consensus.
Influencing a single, isolated stakeholder will never allow you to penetrate and sustain a foothold within an account. Your success metrics should reflect a buying committee that’s persuaded and aligned.
Journeys vs. moments
Traditional time-boxed marketing programs are static in nature. They are designed to target a group of individuals or companies at a specific moment.
A more fluid approach will help marketing and sales determine, in real time, which accounts they should be engaging when and why.
Traditional marketing automation solutions are designed to nurture individual known contacts in your ecosystem. But an account-based solution will help you increase engagement with the entire account.
To some degree, this is a continuation of your consensus build, and it is critical to broadening your exposure within the accounts sales is already engaging.
When you see specific individuals increasing engagement with your content, you need to be able to simultaneously increase engagement with more individuals at those prospective accounts. Doing this will increase the velocity of opportunities through the funnel.
Personalized, thoughtfully timed content assets
To be successful, you must monitor opportunities and determine when it’s time to broaden your exposure with a business-relevant message. Look at the account’s previous content engagement and/or opportunity stage and use that information to deliver specific, relevant information at key moments.
In this way, you can provide a more engaging experience, which ultimately moves opportunities toward revenue faster and more efficiently.
All of this is part of developing and capitalizing upon the more nuanced understanding of opportunity that fuels a serious ABM strategy.
To recap, this involves:
- Rising above the mere transaction.
- Leaning into committees and decider dynamics.
- Thinking about full journeys rather than isolated moments.
- Wholly embracing nurturing at an account level.
These approaches can round out your appreciation and understanding of any given opportunity and make the likelihood of full account success much more probable.