The traditional business-to-business sales and marketing funnel is broken. B2B marketing, in its current form, takes a broad approach to lead generation, to capture as many leads as possible. The problem with this approach is that the funnel narrows towards the bottom, so the vast majority of B2B leads never become customers. Whether you are the chief sales officer for a business or are simply a true believer in marketing, there is no denying that management account-based marketing (ABM) is the way to go. Account-based marketing, on the other hand, turns the B2B sales and marketing funnel on its head. The account-based marketing approach challenges the traditional lead-based, inbound-only marketing approach.
Instead of focusing on marketing channels to generate leads, an ABM strategy focuses on identifying and targeting best-fit accounts with the highest revenue potential for your company. Marketers can then use technology to serve personalized messaging to decision-makers at these accounts via the channels they use most frequently. This marketing outreach is supplemented in an ABM program by personalized, one-on-one sales outreach to the same list of target accounts.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
B2Bs like, are always looking for new, better ways to market to their prospects. And it makes sense. As a B2B, the sales cycle is long, often 9-12 months or longer. We’re marketing to multiple stakeholders, and oftentimes, you don’t have as many prospects out there to market to in the first place. If you’ve been looking for a successful way to market that is trackable and proven to deliver results at a high rate of return, then you might be interested to learn more about ABM.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that focuses on targeted marketing efforts to specific accounts, rather than to an entire group of prospects or specific industry accounts. ABM is an outbound marketing strategy because we’re taking our content and our expertise and bringing it to an account we’ve identified as ideal, rather than having them come to us. ABM is a highly targeted method of marketing that’s been proven to deliver quality ROI, especially for companies that don’t have as many prospects, to begin with, and who are focused on increasing customer retention and upselling. We liken ABM to fishing with a spear, rather than a net. We’re only fishing for the best, and most attractive fish in the pond that our unique value proposition is the best fit.
ABM, also known as key account marketing, combines the marketing and sales teams’ expertise to target specific groups of accounts that require tailored marketing. To achieve their objectives, marketers must employ strategies that combine the expertise of the sales and marketing teams to:
- locate accounts
- close high-value accounts deals
By focusing marketing strategy on key areas of higher value to the organization, the marketing and sales teams can collaborate on campaigns that capture the attention of these accounts and convert them into customers. ABM is critical because it can mean the difference between the sales team meeting and exceeding the quota.
Who Uses ABM?
ABM has proven the most useful for B2B companies offering unique value propositions through business development professionals. As a whole, business-to-business companies (B2B), especially those in niche markets, tend to have fewer prospects, many of whom are larger, high-value corporations. ABM offers B2B companies a better opportunity to engage and close targeted high-value prospects. By providing ABM clients with content and lead nurturing tactics that are tailored specifically to their company, organization, or public entity, especially those that touch multiple decision makers within that one account, you have the opportunity to shorten the sales cycle significantly, and close with just the very best ideal clients in the respective industry.
How Does Account-Based Marketing Work?
Account-based marketing is similar to inbound marketing in many ways, except that it encourages us to seek out ideal accounts, rather than having those accounts find their way to our company organically. Account-based marketing starts with an ICP, which is similar to inbound marketing’s buyer personas. The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) takes a look at specific accounts our company is already successfully working with and outlines what makes those accounts our perfect fit for our client.
An ICP often talks not about a single decision maker’s pain points and challenges, but the goals of the account as a whole. It also details the unique internal structure of that ideal account, as well as the individual decision-makers who must sign on before a sale can be closed. In this way, account-based marketing (ABM) is very closely aligned with sales goals. The sales team knows which prospects are the best fit, and are most likely to convert to a sale. The ICP gives the sales team a chance to tell marketing exactly which types of accounts they love, and it gives the marketing team a very specific account to market to.
Unlike inbound marketing, where the goal is to draw in many prospects from a particular industry or target market, with ABM, our target market is often just one company or public entity. Our sales and marketing team develops content that speaks directly to that company’s pain points and challenges and will develop a campaign that’s directed towards that account’s decision makers and current projects.
This tactic of addressing the pain points of the five or six stakeholders in most B2B’s ideal accounts helps to close the deal with larger, high-value ideal customers who can benefit from our products or services, but who otherwise might take quite a long time to make a decision.
What Are Some Benefits of Account-Based Marketing?
Capturing the attention of potential buyers is more difficult than ever in the digital age. This is where ABM can benefit an organization. The marketing team can directly target accounts that sales want to pursue by identifying them. Many companies seeking high-value customers find that an ABM strategy works better for them than casting a wide net. Account-based marketing turns the traditional marketing and sales funnel inside out. Instead of leading potential clients through the funnel, account-based marketing:
- examines the accounts that sales desires
- personalized content is directed directly at them
- and then converts them into customers
In general, B2B marketers target leads more broadly to appeal to as many companies as possible, but this does not produce the best ROI. With today’s technology, scaling ABM to a variety of organizations is now easier and more affordable, and marketers across the board are implementing an ABM strategy within their team to drive higher value outcomes. Shortening the sales cycle and closing deals with our ideal clients are some pretty great benefits. But ABM offers a few additional benefits that set it apart from other marketing strategies:
The first, most attractive benefit to most B2B’s is account-based marketing’s ability to prove clear ROI. Where other marketing strategies can be difficult to quantify specifically, account-based marketing is fairly cut and dry. Since We’re focusing our efforts on just one customer, it’s easy to see how much time and effort we’re spending on this account, and it’s immediately visible what our return is when that account does close a deal with us.
Specific Tracking and Metrics
In a similar vein, account-based marketing offers very specific, measurable results. When We’re looking at each of our pushes to market to a specific account, we have a small, measurable set of data to analyze. It’s easy to see whether emails, ads, web content or events are helping us close the deal because we have such a small set of target accounts.
This information not only helps inform our future account-based marketing campaigns but can give us greater insight into our ideal customers as a whole. You might discover that the majority of our ideal accounts prefer email marketing and LinkedIn advertising over search engine ads or organic content. We can apply those findings to all of our other marketing campaigns in the future, whether they’re account-based marketing tactics or inbound marketing tactics, helping you optimize our efforts for the greatest returns.
Reduced Waste of Resources
Account-based marketing is sometimes termed zero-waste marketing. Since the strategy is so targeted, we can focus and optimize our resources and tactics to just those specific accounts We’re hoping to close. In that way, none of our efforts are wasted. They’re spending time and resources only on potential clients and accounts that we know are quality leads.
Can Account-Based Marketing Tactics be Paired with Inbound Marketing?
Yes, and in fact, it is highly recommended that we not use ABM without inbound marketing. Here’s why ABM does a great job of shortening the sales cycle and closing on some of those ideal clients you’ve always wanted to land. That’s all effort we’re hyper-focusing on just one company.
While ABM is effective, and a closed sales deal for that high-value corporation can help LazrTek achieve its growth goals, it’s important to launch ABM campaigns alongside inbound marketing campaigns to make sure our prospects don’t feel like We’re just pushing our product or service at them constantly. What’s more, inbound marketing helps us cast a slightly wider net, while still drawing in qualified leads. Indeed, inbound marketing isn’t as targeted as ABM, but inbound marketing brings in qualified leads, rather than our sales and marketing teams having to go out and find them.
Running both inbound marketing and ABM together helps set up a system of safety nets. If we’re having a slow quarter, ABM can help our team zero in on a high-value prospect. If a deal with a high-value prospect falls through, our inbound marketing strategy has still been working for us to draw in qualified prospects on that we can refocus our efforts.
How Do We Know if It is the Right Target and Strategy for Us?
Not sure if ABM is right for us? Take a look at these questions:
- Do we feel like there are a limited number of companies who can benefit from our product or service?
- Do we generate more revenue from upselling and retaining long-term clients than it does from bringing in a new venture?
- Are we often marketing to companies and prospects where we need buy-in from several stakeholders?
If we answered yes to these questions, then we should give ABM a try! Account-based marketing is one of the most proven tactics to shorten the sales cycle and close deals for some of those ideal accounts we’ve been eyeing for a while. And if we think about it, it makes sense. While our inbound marketing content is tailored to a specific industry or type of prospect, whether it’s through job title, company size, or pain point, it’s still somewhat general.
ABM content, however, is hyper-specific. That content is written directly for that account that we know is the perfect fit for us. And who doesn’t love content that’s written specifically for them? In today’s world of general, non-specific blogs that don’t always answer the questions We’re asking, the extremely personalized content that ABM uses is a breath of fresh air. It shows our ideal prospects that we’re dedicated to solving their problems and helping their company grow better. And content like this is what closes deals.
What Do We Need to Make an Account-Based Marketing Strategy Campaign Work?
If we’re thinking that an ABM campaign sounds right for us, we’re probably wondering where to start. Even if we are fully on board to start an ABM campaign, it’s not going to go very far if we don’t have these three integral components of a successful ABM campaign.
#1 Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams
ABM won’t work if our sales and marketing teams aren’t on the same page. Luckily, the nature of ABM tends to bring the two teams together. Sales and marketing have historically been at odds. Sales always want better, more qualified leads. Marketing always wants to get the company in front of as many qualified prospects as possible. ABM solves this power struggle by bringing the sales team more closely into the marketing process.
The sales team starts by identifying the ideal account. They tell our marketing team who is the perfect account. From there, our marketing team does what they do best, which is to get to know how that account thinks — what their pain points are, what their challenges are, what their goals are, their current need projects, and which key stakeholders are needed to get on board before they can pass that prospect along to the sales team.
Account-based marketing encourages marketers to think a bit more like the sales team. Instead of focusing on just getting the best message out to the right people, the marketing team has to consider what information will contribute to closing this lead. They have to think more like our sales team, which helps bring those two teams a little closer. That said, if our marketing team is on Mars and our sales team is on Jupiter, ABM isn’t going to work for us right away. You have to have some alignment between the two teams before you can see any sort of forwarding progress.
#2 Clearly Outlined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
When our sales and marketing teams are on the same page, you can define our ideal profile. As we mentioned earlier, an ICP is similar to a buyer persona, except that instead of being centered on a person, it’s centered on a specific company or account. Our ICP should identify what type of company We’re working with, how many decision-makers there are, and what each of those decision makers’ biggest pain points and questions is about our product or service.
It’s good to know that account-based marketing doesn’t just focus on new business, either. You can easily create account-based marketing campaigns that are centered on extending service with an existing company, upselling, or even cross-selling. Most B2Bs find that it’s more cost-effective to focus on customer retention than it is to constantly seek new ventures, and account-based marketing is a great way to do that.
#3 Specifically Targeted Content That Speaks to Our ICP
With an aligned sales and marketing team, and our ICP set in place, the last thing we need is content. As we’ve discussed before, the key to successful account-based marketing is hyper-specific content. When we say hyper-specific, we mean we’re creating content for that company, and each of its decision-makers, specifically. The content you develop should answer questions those decision makers are asking and should speak (in no uncertain terms) to the unique situation and needs of that company. While this might seem like a lot of effort for one company, we’re only making that effort for a company or account that we know is an ideal fit for our product or service. Account-based marketing is proven to deliver the highest return on investment of any marketing strategy, especially for B2Bs.
And let’s remember, that all of the efforts we put into an ABM campaign are highly targeted and optimized. Nothing we do in a proper ABM campaign is wasted effort, which is why our ROI is going to be so high when you close a deal. Account-based marketing is a great marketing strategy, especially for B2Bs who struggle to shorten the sales cycle, or who have a relatively small number of prospects and small sales force. ABM helps us strategically, without wasting resources.