7 Steps to Creating a Successful Account-Based Marketing Strategy Guest Author In today’s marketing climate, more and more B2B companies are transitioning to using account-based marketing (ABM) to attract and convert prospects into paying customers. Much of the reason they are making the shift is that they often have to convince at least five key decision-makers within a company to make a purchase, resulting in extremely long sales cycles so they’re setting their sites on key accounts rather than attempting to attract anyone and everyone. Source: Harvard Business Review Simply put, businesses must quickly gain trust while also minimizing their risk of losing deals. By simultaneously targeting multiple decision-makers within a prospective company, they ensure they can speed up their sales cycle. What is ABM? ABM is a marketing strategy that focuses on developing, executing, and monitoring campaigns that are designed to target specific accounts. It reverse-engineers the traditional marketing funnel. Rather than doing a Hail Mary pass on every single business you think may want to your product, you focus all your resources on those that you know have a need for your product. Why does an ABM strategy work for B2Bs? Rather than focusing on generating the most number of leads possible with each campaign, account-based marketers emphasize the quality of the leads they generate. By doing this, they don’t have to waste much time and effort to weed out those that aren’t a good fit for their products and services. Providing a personalized and highly-targeted approach to your target accounts can also significantly improve client relationships. This is crucial in today’s fiercely competitive digital economy because this is one of the primary factors your target accounts will consider when they decide whether or not they would buy from you. It’s for these very reasons why 62% of B2B marketers are now implementing an ABM strategy. How to create a successful ABM strategy 1. Align your sales and marketing teams. According to Aaron Haynes, CEO of Loganix, the success of your ABM strategy is dependent on how well these two teams work together. Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done when teams are working in silos. Haynes recommends getting both teams together is the first step to begin the collaboration process. Ideally, have both teams in the same room. However, if your teams are working remotely, you can do this by scheduling a video conference. “Only by bringing these two teams together can you identify potential roadblocks and challenges either team experiences while working with each other,” Haynes explains. “Otherwise, these roadblocks and challenges will spring up, which can affect the results of your ABM strategy.” Once these are sorted out, brainstorm the details of your ABM strategy – from the goals you want to reach to the key accounts you’ll be targeting to the different metrics to observe. Not only will these strengthen the sales and marketing alignment within your business, but also they’ll ensure that both teams will be held accountable for the entire strategy. 2. Assemble your core ABM team. To execute your ABM strategy, you’ll need to track down these people (or some variation of these roles) to be part of your marketing team: A marketing manager to handle your marketing automation platform and ensuring your contacts and accounts are properly aligned based on what stage they are of your buyer’s journey, A sales manager who will take care of managing the details of your key accounts to ensure they’re up-to-date, Account executives who will be in charge of executing your ABM strategy, and Content creators who are responsible for developing personalized and targeted content in different formats. 3. Invest in the right account-based marketing tools. You need to ensure you have the right tools in place not only to help your team effortlessly execute your ABM strategy but also help you monitor and track its progress. Here are a few suggestions. Hatchbuck One critical tool to have in place when launching an ABM approach is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It will help you track and monitor whether or not you’re reaching your overall marketing goals with your current ABM strategy. Hatcbuck’s CRM allows you to monitor the activity of your leads on your website in real-time. This information can help your marketing team develop and launch email drip campaigns that will nurture your leads. Source: Hatchbuck At the same time, you can set triggers to quickly notify your sales team when your leads are ready to buy. That way, they can quickly jump in and engage with them, increasing the likelihood of closing a sale. It also gives you real-time progress updates for each stage of your pipeline so that you can monitor your progress and see if you’re meeting your set goals. Source: Hatchbuck ZoomInfo One of the biggest challenges B2Bs face when setting up an ABM strategy is ensuring your sales and marketing teams are reaching companies that are fit your target account profile. Using a platform like ZoomInfo helps you quickly search companies based on their industry, number of employees, services, and tools they currently use. Source: ZoomInfo From there, you can compile these and create a list that you can now pass to your ABM team to begin targeting. SalesIntel SalesIntel is a sales intelligence platform that delivers verified direct numbers of the target account’s key decision-makers to your sales team. Not only will your sales team bypass gatekeepers, but they’ll also increase their chances of securing a meeting by up to 147%. Everstring Everstring‘s platform allows your ABM team to develop a predictive behavior model where lead demonstrate common behaviors they’ve identified so they’re more likely to convert into sales. Source: Everstring 4. Identify and prioritize your target accounts. This is the clincher of your ABM strategy because if you end up choosing the wrong accounts to target, you can be wasting a significant amount of time and resources. It will also help you determine which distribution channels to include in your ABM strategy to make sure that you put your business in front of your target account. There are three methods to find the right accounts to target for your account-based marketing strategy. Gather data from your sales team. Your sales team is responsible for converting all the leads passed through from your marketing team. As such, they‘ll be in the best position to provide you with the common characteristics shared by those leads that were the quickest to convert. Utilize LinkedIn’s account targeting. LinkedIn’s marketing solutions allow you not only to run native ABM campaigns within the social media channel but also help you find target accounts based on your ideal customer profile. Source: LinkedIn What’s great about this is that because this is primarily a social media network for professionals, your sales team can immediately begin the engagement process by sending a personalized message or InMail to these critical decision-makers to get things started. Conduct look-alike modeling. Look-alike modeling is a strategy that helps you find accounts that share similar characteristics of your pinpointed key accounts that are looking for your product or service. 5. Craft create your content. Content is still king in an ABM strategy. So make sure that you have a well laid-out plan to create your content. One thing to remember when creating the content for your ABM strategy is that the materials you provide in your lead nurturing campaign should be more personalized and targeted. That means that you need to create content that’s targeting their specific pain points and challenges. Also, keep in mind that your target accounts have several key decision-makers. Often, these key decision-makers come from different departments, have varying position levels, and may even reside in different geographic locations. So make sure your content resonates with the majority—if not all—of these key decision-makers to convince them to choose to buy your product or service. 6. Deliver the VIP treatment. Your target accounts are part of your business’s A-list. Naturally, they should be treated as such. One way to achieve this is by providing them with excellent customer service. This is one of the critical factors they consider because they want to be sure they can reach you when they need help. Also, they expect that you can provide them with a solution they can quickly implement so that their business won’t get compromised. 7. Track and monitor your results. No doubt, your ABM strategy will help you generate results. The only question is: what type of results are you getting? For that, you’ll need to monitor and track the progress of your ABM strategy not just on your website but also your CRM and distribution channels. To make things easier for you and your ABM team, use a tool like Databox which will consolidate real-time metrics from different platforms into one dashboard. Through this, you can see which parts of your ABM strategy are working and which ones need to be tweaking. With advancements in marketing technology, account-based marketing is no longer a strategy that’s exclusive to large enterprises. Through the steps and tools shared here, you can now use ABM strategies to target your small business’s key accounts, convert them into clients, and generate revenue to scale. Author Bio Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.