Account Based Marketing for Lead Development Quality, Not Quantity

Author: 
Senraj Soundar, ConnectLeader Founder and CEO

ABM – account based marketing – is the most-talked-about strategy right now in the B2B world. Yet, ABM has been around forever. “I was using basic ABM principles at Dell 25 years ago,” said John Ellett, CEO nFusion. So, what changed? What’s making the old ways the innovations of today?

According to Forbes:

  • 80% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments.
  • 84% of marketers said that ABM had significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing client relationships.

When ABM has been in use for at least a year, 60% of users reported a revenue increase of at least 10%, and 19% of users reported a revenue impact of 30% or greater.

ABM has been described as using a spear to catch fish as opposed to using a net. Or, like being a sniper zeroing-in on the targeted contact in a crowded field. Or perhaps it’s best to look at the ABM system as a turnkey approach. When it works perfectly, each tooth and groove of the sales effort makes a connection with a sales lead at every level in the targeted company, thus unlocking the whole enterprise. ABM is the perfect system when, as is often the case, you have to work with multiple buyers in a given sale.

“ABM takes an individual prospect or customer account – these are companies, not individual people – and treats it like its very own market, or a market of one,” said Amanda Zantal-Wiener of HubSpot. But, ABM is not a solo task. It is a combination of actions from advertising, direct mail, calls, emails, and content, all working in unison. “It's not about how many leads you generate,” says Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, “it’s about are you engaging and building relationships with the right people at the right accounts?”

Technology Companies Lead the Way

But, why is it that the old methodology is all of sudden is achieving these high ROIs? The answer is advances in technology. Technology companies are leading this ABM revolution, providing valuable information on prospective buyers. It’s a hard reality for sales reps knowing that less than one percent of their sales leads will turn into revenue-generating customers. This is why marketers want to find new ways to locate a greater number of high-quality leads.

Software tools can “manage the leads and relationships,” says Noah Elkin, research director of multichannel marketing at Gartner, “score the leads, provide predictive analysis, and deliver targeted content creation, coupled with programmatic advertising techniques that let marketers target identified accounts and individuals at whatever stage of the buying process they're in."

And it’s social media which is providing the richest channels for this new lead generation, as well as the best methods for reducing sales cycles and improving conversion rates. So, choose your channels wisely. The five major social media platforms are: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Don’t Wait for Buyers to Find You

ABM aims to personalize the approaches to individual accounts – 75% of customers prefer personalized offers. With an ABM methodology, personnel in marketing work in tandem with those in sales to identify key prospects, and then together construct personalized programs and messages targeted to specific accounts. This “personalization” (emails, websites, and calls-to-action) enables potential customers to perceive value for your product, as it aligns with their business goals.

Reliable data is critical to the success of any ABM program. ABM is an evolution from account-based selling that now involves marketing. "The idea is to no longer have a massive, wide funnel,” says Jim Williams of Influitive, “but rather to have a highly targeted funnel with very qualified leads.”

Due to the digital communication revolution there was an explosion of B2B companies and thus a heightening of competition. “There is now more noise than ever,” says Williams. “Hence, getting back to basics -- targeting key customers and retaining them — is the name of the game, and we now couple those principles with technology.” The ABM business strategy becomes a highly advanced CRM system/methodology. Technologies such as auto dialers, speed dialers, voice dialers and predictive analytics are enabling these high ROIs and causing a revitalization of ABM.

When ABM is done well, sales and marketing are working in harmony – fluidly, efficiently, which contributes to larger deal sizes, faster deal cycles, and better win rates. “If you wait for customers to come to you,” says Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, “you're waiting for them to have a project in place, which means they may be already considering your competition (who may have been already guiding the customer in selecting the solution), and that more junior-level people may be engaging with you.” With account-based initiatives, you can reach out to the right people at the right level in a way that speaks to them, and ahead of your competition which means you're more likely to succeed.

The digital transformation has meant the breaking down of the traditional silos between sales, marketing, and other departments. “When you agree on the desired accounts and you get everybody aligned on that focus, you’re ultimately just going be more efficient, which usually makes you more effective,” says Miller. Teamwork aligns dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales teams care about.

Buyers Ready to Buy

Account-based marketing appeals to B2B companies because “it enables them to connect individual buyers to what they're already looking for," says Lauren Walsh, head of marketing at Sullivan.

  • When done right, marketing and sales align on these goals:
  • Which people in which accounts should be targeted
  • What criteria to use in targeting those accounts

Where the ABM Program is Going
The benefit of having the two departments, sales and marketing, focused on the same list of accounts cannot be underestimated. Inbound marketing primarily focuses on creating content to bring prospects to you; ABM puts their aim on individual prospects or existing accounts. ... Use them in tandem! Actively go after customers using outbound marketing methods, like ABM, instead of waiting for them to come to you through passive inbound marketing efforts.