How do you figure out the ABM readiness of your company on a scale of 0-10? And whether it needs to kick start account based marketing?
Let’s set some context. If you’re a B2B company, then you’d think ABM is an automatic choice. But it may not be so. You might be thinking of moving your marketing dollars from, say inbound marketing or ads to an ABM approach. Maybe you want to do something new, or you see some of the old tactics are not working, or maybe you think the whole world is moving to ABM and so should you.
Pumping money into ads is fairly straightforward. Hiring an SEO agency to improve traffic? Not so much, but it works, when done right. Other things inbound, they all work, when done the right way.
So what about ABM? Let’s do some soul searching to see if ABM is for you or not.
Are You a Match for ABM?
Do you have an offering that sells to companies? <Many of you will say Yes to that.>
Is your offering a big ticket item? <I see some of you dropping off.>
Will the offering’s lifetime customer value for you run into multiple thousands of dollars? <More drop offs, hmmm.>
So it follows that you sell to not just one persona, but a set of personas that make up the buying committee at a prospect company, or Account.
So rephrase that into a question: Does your offering’s buying decision require inputs from multiple stakeholders? <Great to see you guys that are still here!>
And again, it automatically follows, since you sell a big ticket item, you probably have a long sales cycle, of well over 6 months and more. Do you? <Many hands still up!>
All those whose hands are still up? You, you are good for ABM.
But are you ripe for it yet? That’s the next question to deal with.
The ABM Readiness Checklist
Let’s start with the A in ABM: accounts. Do you know your target accounts? Not just the names, but why they are a dream account for you? If you have a list of such accounts that sales and marketing teams can go after, then you have a good footing to start off. If all you have is a list of company names you’ve pulled out from Sales Navigator with little detailing, then there’s work to be done. You need to have a great understanding of which accounts are the best for your offerings and why. So your chances of success and that of the client’s increased manifold.
Now for the Big one in ABM readiness, the bit that’s instrumental to success. Alignment between sales, marketing and operations. If there’s mistrust between your teams, don’t get started on ABM, at least not before you have got management buy-in and started alignment exercises afterwards. ABM can’t work if sales doesn’t tell marketing what’s happening onground. And if Ops has come up with a great new opportunity but only shared it with their favorite salesperson, you’re looking at some work ahead.
The devil is in the details, they say. Sales details, really. How mature is your sales process? Is it documented, so everyone actually follows the same processes? Do you have all lead stages clearly defined and tagged in your CRM? (Do you have a CRM, btw. We will come to that in a bit!). Are you tracking all leads and conversions religiously? Yes, No, In bits and pieces? If it’s a Yes, you are high on ABM readiness checklist! But if you said ‘No’ or ‘In bits and pieces’, you have got to get this part cleaned up and ironed out.
Now let’s come to tech maturity. The reason ABM is now so popular is because of the types of tech tools that give you visibility and insight into an account. So, while your sales team can say, “This is exactly what we have been doing all these years, don’t come to us with a fancy new term!”, ABM is really a whole new way of approaching sales. Sample this:
- Does your sales person have a way of telling that a specific account seems to be running keyword searches for your offering?
- Does your sales person know that while he thinks the VP of a specific company needs to be targeted, it’s really the team reporting to her that is most interested in your ads/content? Which would be an easier foot-in-the-door?
- What can a sales person do, on an ongoing basis, to send really thoughtful gifts for his prospects that is easy for him, automated, or even handwritten?
So you see it’s not simply about using the CRM effectively. It’s a lot more than that. Are your sales people tech savvy enough to adopt new tools that help them target their accounts better? It doesn’t mean they have to learn how to use every single tool, but they have to be savvy enough to know about the tool, what insights they can derive out of it. And they have to masterfully use their CRM. People not keen on tech, not open to tech? You’re going to hit a big ABM wall, rapidly enough.
Which brings us to the Tech Stack bit of ABM. If you have no CRM, and are using some form of spreadsheets to track your sales process, you will want to work on that first and foremost. And on the marketing side, you’ll need marketing automation that helps you track users and prospect journeys, score personas and accounts, and give some in-depth analytics on the goings-on. You will need your CRM and marketing automation tool to be well integrated. That’s the basic hygiene you need. And as you embark on your ABM journey, you’ll need more tools to help with your accounts building and expansion, persona enrichment, social media listening, personalized content delivery, ad targeting…the list is growing, as we write.
So you can see that while you might be a great fit for account based marketing services, you might not be mature enough to start off on it right away. Most companies we speak to have a lot of ground to cover before they can launch ABM initiatives. So while the CMO might see value in having an ABM program, the reality of the company may not even allow it to function properly. So take one step at a time, get management buy-in and play for the long term.
ABM is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for quick results. It’s about inducing a culture that will bring you results again and again, once it is set into motion.