This New Type Of Marketing Isn’t So New, Just Getting A Lot Of Attention
Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, is getting a lot of attention these days. Some people are discussing whether it’s inbound marketing or outbound marketing, but ABM has been part of our Inbound Philosophy for a long time.
It's hard to fault an approach that targets specific buyer profiles (the company) and buyer personas (the people); directs helpful messages in the form of educational content to help each prospect; and then continues the conversation with nurturing activities that shape the prospect’s buyer journey. Just listen to that description: It oozes inbound.
The only questions are: how do you execute this type of tactic, who executes it, what tools do you need and what should you expect from an ABM effort?
You can use this information to help create your own ABM effort at your company:
Who Executes ABM?
Is it sales or is it marketing? In our opinion it’s sales. You have salespeople who are shifting their energies from cold outreach to account-based marketing. You want them to establish relationships with prospective clients. You want the experience to be personal and specific to each individual’s buyer journey.
Prospects in the awareness stage should be treated differently from those in the consideration or decision-making stages. You're going to want to arm your salespeople with the right tools; to give them the ability to assess the specific person’s position in their journey and respond accordingly. ABM is usually more of a one-to-one effort, rather than a programmatic effort.
What Assets Do You Need For Productive ABM?
You're going to need the right assets to deliver a remarkable experience. What tools and materials do you need to deliver this level of experience?
Your goal is to enable and empower your sales team to deliver a highly educational and advisory experience that helps the prospect.
Materials might include assessments, case studies, videos, workshops and/or educational materials like whitepapers or e-books. After you map out the experience you want your team to deliver, you can go back in and overlay the assets that will make the experience immersive, emotional and highly productive for your prospect.
How Do You Integrate ABM Into Your Other Marketing Activities?
Solid inbound marketing comes with the ability to marry account-based marketing activities with other inbound marketing activities, giving your sales team the advantage of a two-pronged approach. While your team is giving their best sales experience, marketing is supporting similar messages delivered differently.
Here’s an example. You get your prospect to subscribe to the company’s blog and monthly email newsletter. Both vehicles are telling similar stories, which nurture the prospect through the sales process. Each day they get a reminder of your approach and differentiation through blog notifications, and each month they get the company email with even more interesting information.
The combination – strategic sales connects plus inbound marketing's delivery of educational content – moves prospects through the buyer journey in a more directed manner. This causes them to close more quickly and at a higher rate than your pre-inbound methods.
What Should You Expect From An ABM Effort?
As with other inbound expectations, nothing happens quickly: We’re talking about the long game here. Nurturing and educational content marketing will help your prospects get to know, like and trust you faster, but it won’t affect (nor can anything actually affect) the acuteness of their pain.
People don’t purchase until their pain becomes acute and they’re 100% safe in their feelings about the purchase decision. You can attempt to poke at pain and point out how pain could become even more problematic in the future, but much of the desire to move to fix pain is motivated by internal factors that we in sales or marketing can't affect.
So your expectations should be low to begin with. Results should pick up over time as your team gets better, you refine your process, you change your tools and you get more people into your funnel. Over time ABM will produce, but improvement will be slow, and should be managed on the basis of the right set of expectations.
How Do You Track And Test ABM?
Inbound marketing is all about the metrics, and account-based management is no different. How many people were identified? How many connect emails were sent? How many actually connected? How many prospects engaged in conversation or replied to the content you sent? How many actually had pain and were interested in talking to you about it? How many wanted to see a proposal or agreement? How many converted into clients? Sound familiar? It’s almost the same model as the funnel model we unveiled in this blog article.
Track each stage of the process. Monitor your conversion rates. Work to improve those conversion rates by optimizing communication and content tools. Look at these numbers weekly and then monthly.
Track every week and every month and compare the data week over week and month over month. Work to deliver improvements (even small ones) weekly, and you’ll get monthly improvements too.
Before you know it you’ll have a highly effective ABM effort that is both predictable and repeatable and that makes sales and marketing valuable assets to your company.
As you start to transition away from traditional sales and marketing activities and into inbound, one of the first questions leaders ask is “What should my salespeople do if they’re not making cold calls?” The answer is account-based management: They should be actively looking for people who appear to be the perfect prospects. They should be taking the new inbound marketing tools you’ve equipped them with and the new sales process you've designed for them and executing the outreach, nurturing and account management processes that are now in play.
This approach will produce better results than cold-calling, in a shorter time frame and with a much more focused effort to engage with buyers the way they want to be worked with during their buyer journey.
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