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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, May 31, 2017 10 min read

If You Whiffed On Account-Based Marketing, Here's How To Recover

4 Secrets From The People Practicing Account-Based Marketing (And Not Just Talking About It)

Account Based Marketing Best PracticesIt’s one of the hottest practices in marketing and sales today. Account-based marketing has its own experts, its own technology and its own set of expectations. Even the inbound marketing community is talking about ABM.

But talk will only get you so far. In the end, it’s about results. How many people did we connect with? How many of them are engaged with us? How many are actually qualified sales leads? How many are actual sales opportunities? How good are those opportunities? What is the total potential revenue in the pipeline from ABM leads? What is our close rate on ABM leads? And finally, the obvious question — how many new customers did we sign and how much revenue did we generate?

If you can’t generate any revenue, then ABM isn’t any better than the $82,000 print ad campaign I ran back in 2003 with CFO Magazine. In March, I wrote an article with six questions to ask to know if you’re ready for an account-based marketing campaign. Today, I’m sharing the four secrets you need to know before you do anything with ABM.

1) You Need Disruptive Messaging And Stories That Engage

We’ve all been the recipient of account-based marketing gone bad, such as those LinkedIn emails or those unsolicited emails that show up in your inbox. Who is this person? Who cares about what they’re saying? How quickly can I hit the delete button?

I don’t care about your amazing new software product. I don’t care about the list of people who are magically ready to buy today. Unless you can get my attention by disrupting my status quo and providing me some insight, it’s highly unlikely I’ll even respond. And I don’t care how many times you email me to share that you know how busy I am or to ask if your first three emails went into my spam folder.

Prove to me in 10 seconds that you’re smarter than me, that you can help me and that you have something I desperately need, and then I’ll read your email and consider engaging. You can create messages, stories and emails like these, but it takes work. It takes thoughtful planning, research and testing, and it takes expertise. Skip this step and you’ll be looking at anemic open rates and even lower click-through rates. If no one is connecting, you don’t have an ABM program.

2) You Need Every Touch Point Mapped Out And Designed To Create An Experience

How To Pair ABM And Inbound Marketing To Win At Demand GenerationOnce you get someone to connect, you’re not done. You’re just getting started. You have to bring this new connection along, you have to get them to engage in a conversation and you have to get them to buy. This might take months or longer depending on the complexity of your sale and the size of the investment.

To get good at this and see high engagement rates, you’ll have to map out every single touch point in the buyer journey. And by everyone, I mean everyone. Im talking about every email, every social message, every piece of content and every document. Think about it like a choreographed dance routine. Every step is planned out, every hand motion is designed, and every facial expression is perfectly positioned to engage and transport the audience. That’s what you’re doing here. The more remarkable the experience, the higher the close rates, the shorter the sales cycle and the more you’ll exceed the revenue goals.

We recently surveyed our new clients and 68% of them identified the sales process as why they chose us. Not our expertise, not our people, not our website, not our content and not our leadership. We made them feel safe and smart, and we listened to their challenges. This is what you should be going for, too.

3) You’ll Need A Plan B, Plan C And Plan D When Your Contacts Don’t Engage

Account based marketing strategyWhen you package up the idea of a disruptive story and a well-planned-out experience, you’ll start looking for a backup plan if your initial messaging and stories don’t work. Then you’ll start looking for a backup plan for your backup plan. This is smart marketing, especially when you’re talking about account-based marketing.

ABM usually gets deployed when you know who your prospects are and how to get in touch with them. This means you only have a limited number of prospects. For example, 100 companies in the U.S. represent your key prospects, and 10 key executives are in each of those 100 companies. That’s a limited number of people (1,000 to be exact). You can’t start tossing out people if they don’t connect initially. You need a well-thought-out Plan B, then a Plan C, and probably a Plan D and a Plan E as well.

You might try different messages, different content or different approaches. Some people are motivated by fear, uncertainty and doubt. Even more are followers and want to do what the biggest and best companies are doing. You probably won’t know which approach to take, but being ready with as many approaches as possible will put you in a position to adjust on the fly, be agile in your deployment and continue to approach these people until you find the magic formula.

4) You Can’t Neglect The Rest Of Your Marketing Just Because Youre Running ABM

It’s not ABM or inbound. It’s not ABM or content marketing. It’s not ABM or an email list purchase. If you’re thinking like that, you’re making a catastrophic mistake. If you, your prospects and your organization are right for ABM, then its done in addition to everything else, not instead of anything else. I had a client tell me, “We’re not doing inbound marketing anymore because we’re doing account-based marketing.” Don’t make this mistake.

Instead, if you’re ready for ABM, build it on top of everything else. Consider your prospects. You have a serious amount of people actively looking for you, and you should be investing time and money to help them find you. Then you have people who are not yet looking for you, and this is where ABM comes in. By doing them both, you’ll help fill up your funnel to the fullest.

It might sound like a fad, but account-based marketing and sales has been around for almost 30 years. When I worked for Dun & Bradstreet in the early 1990s, the sales team ran account-targeted sales and we supported them with account-targeted marketing. Today, technology and insights from the performance of programs like this make it more trackable, more measurable and more scalable. As long as you have a strategy as the foundation, you should see enough lift in the results to justify the investment.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.