Thinking about ABM? It’s time to put your sales hat on
Columnist Scott Vaughan says if you really want to be successful with account-based marketing, you must adopt a sales mindset first.
I’ve always been a believer and practitioner of targeted selling strategies, urging sales to focus on their “top 20” accounts versus going after every opportunity. So as account-based marketing (ABM) evolves as a way for marketing to take the same kind of focused, strategic approach, this sales mindset is more important than ever.
The challenge is that most marketers don’t come to work every day with this sales mindset. It’s time for marketing to put their sales hat on if they want to take the next step with ABM, contributing directly to customer revenue.
ABM is both energizing and scary to marketing teams. Motivating because marketing pros can work hand-in-hand with sales for the first time and see the tangible results of their work in every weekly, monthly and quarterly sales review. And ABM is also unsettling for the same reason — marketers are directly accountable for revenue results.
ABM at its best uses marketing data, technology and communications in creative ways to identify, personalize, engage and delight prospects in a focused way against a specific set of accounts.
Despite good intentions, as we look at the first generation of ABM initiatives, many marketers are focused on supporting these target accounts with traditional marketing tactics — advertising, campaigns, field marketing events and the like. As single tactics, these are not wrong or bad. But they’re not what sales (or the company) wants or needs.
If you’re thinking about account-based marketing, the best thing you can do is first take a sales mindset, and then apply everything you’ve learned about targeted, personalized marketing.
Here are four things you can do to right now to help accelerate your sales mojo and increase your impact with ABM initiatives.
Taking a sales mindset is key to making ABM work
The number one thing marketers can do is “pick up” a bag. This means going on prospect and customer meetings, listening in on discovery sessions and scheduling time with your target customers at the next event.
This empathetic approach helps you better understand what it takes to identify and motivate potential customers, and such hands-on knowledge will help you more effectively convert prospects into customers.
ABM is always on, so drop the campaign mentality
Sales pros are immersed in a continuous sales process, reaching out and engaging the important decision-makers involved in identifying, scoping and selecting your solution. In contrast, marketers think in terms of campaigns and programs that run within time increments — mostly monthly or quarterly. This approach does not work for sales, so why would it work for an ABM strategy?
An ABM strategy must always be on. If you launch an initiative to target 250 accounts, for example, the marketing effort must work at the pace and time frame of each of the prospects.
Build target-account lists with purpose and data
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is using generic target-account lists. This is often driven by picking brand-name companies to the point where the target-account list looks like the Inc. 500 or Fortune 1000 list. In other words, there’s no real correlation or sound reasoning why these particular accounts were selected.
This looks good on paper because you have a solid list of brand names, but it may not be the best account — based on data — for your company. This is where marketers can tap into prospect and customer data housed in their systems to identify the optimal accounts most likely to buy your product or service.
Target people, not just accounts
One of the most common oversights marketers can make is to get overly focused on “accounts” and targeting companies. It’s important to realize that people source products, scope solutions and sign the checks, not “accounts.”
This is where marketing can shine. Marketers are used to, and proficient at, engaging individuals via personalized communications to reach target-account decision-makers. By applying an account-based strategy with a personalized approach, marketing can have a much bigger impact.
The fastest path to delivering on target-account strategies and ABM is to adopt a sales mindset. This means getting out in the field with sales, deploying an “always-on” approach, marketing in cadence with your customer listening, and being proactive using your marketing data to help define the best opportunities for sales and marketing to target together. All of this effort is aimed at accelerating revenue — a primary marketing goal.