In What is Account-Based Marketing, we discussed the various definitions of account-based marketing, its legacy and evolution as a B2B marketing program, four of its major benefits for any organization, and the fundamental shift in thinking that’s key to understanding account-based marketing. Overall, it was a great comprehensive introduction to account-based marketing and what it takes to make it work. But is everyone ready for account-based marketing?
Before You Dive Into ABM...
Not every business is ready to implement account-based marketing, nor should every business start their own ABM journey. If you are honest-to-goodness interested in implementing ABM to improve your business, you will have to take stock of your current business structure, organizational alignment, processes, and CRM, just to name a few steps. But don’t sweat the small stuff! Chapter 2 is going to help guide you through a few questions and considerations to help you truly see if your company is ready to implement account-based marketing.
Assessing Your Accounts
Believe it or not, what your business provides as a service or product to other businesses can have major bearing on whether or not your company is ready to implement ABM strategies. How? Take a look at who is involved in the buying decision process and how much the product costs.
Let’s look at the buying decision process first:
Who is involved in this process? Is it a single person who e-signs the agreement?
Does the sale require small group approval?
Who are the key decision-makers your business has to interact with to close the deal?
Remember account-based marketing doesn’t focus on leads, rather, ABM focuses on B2B accounts, and most often, it will be set up to engage multiple key decision makers in a single account with hyper-targeted personalized marketing. With this in mind, if your key decision maker is a non-business affiliated individual with a credit card, it’s most likely the case that ABM would not be ideal for your business at this point in time.
Have you created a Target Account List?
As you assess key decision-makers within your current (and future) world of accounts, also take a moment to ask yourself: has your business ever created a target account list to market to? Not a target lead list of MQLs or SQLs, but a target account list or what your business considers ideal purchasers of your product or service?
If this tactic has never seen the light of day at a marketing or sales meeting, you will want to give the idea some legs to stand on before you walk it through the ABM process. Conversely, if this is a tactic your business is familiar with and you could probably pull something resembling a target account list from your CRM, you’re well on your way to ABM readiness.
Costs and Creating New Customers
Regarding your product or service’s price, this is key to understand from the beginning because this will be an important component of building your target list later. One of the goals of ABM is to increase average deal size, and if your product pricing is not strong enough to generate substantial revenue while focusing on select target accounts, this might not be the right time to bring ABM into the picture. If your product or service is competitively priced, it has a greater chance of bringing in increased revenue when compared to the guys down the street.
Bonus item: consider the potential value of bringing on a new target account for your business. Do you want to keep existing, just floating along or do you want your business to grow with new accounts and strong up-selling strategies that increase account lifetime values and long-term ROI?
ABM is a demand generation marketing program; it creates growth, expansion, and engagement with both new accounts and new opportunities in current accounts. If you’re seeking scalable ways to effectively grow your closed revenue for the long-term, ABM is right up your alley.
Analyzing Your Sales Processes
The first piece to look at is your sales process. Who are the players? What is their purpose? Do they know their purpose? Having this documentation is key not only to your organization’s success now but in the future.
Account-based marketing uses key insights from past processes and programs to build a better organizational future with larger annual contracts, more closed new revenue, and a funnel velocity unlike ever before. Without this documentation, ABM would be flying blind, basing decisions off of assumptions, and for an inherently strategic program, that simply won’t work.
If your sales process is documented with clearly established and adhered to roles and responsibilities filled by the best-qualified people, ABM is well within reach. If your sales process could use a little attention, address this before moving on with your ABM journey. The more insights you have into your sales processes, the better marketing will be able to collaborate and work alongside the rest of the organization to hit key business objectives.
Two key ABM-readiness indicators worth looking at lie outside of internal sales processes and relate back to the current customer: Sales cycle length and required salesperson interactions. ABM is a long-term marketing strategy, meaning it takes time for results to show up in shared reports. With this in mind, look at your current customers: how long does it take to close a deal?
If the sales cycle is longer, it will work well with account-based marketing, because by nature ABM is about the long game, turning key accounts into advocates that also become up-sell opportunities, and quick turnaround sales cycles do not give ABM the time it needs to provide ridiculous results. Rather than managing more accounts with lower ROI and closed revenue, sales is better off managing fewer accounts with higher ROI and closed revenue, which perfectly coincides with longer sales cycles.
Additionally, if your customers don’t require much, if any, salesperson interaction, ABM would do more to hurt than help your business. One key feature of ABM is the highly personalized, interactive sales process where sales will host an event for a select few target accounts, pay visits to offices, and engage in more face-to-face than a business that runs successfully without this. We spend a good portion of our Mojo ABM consultation engagement on this segment with customers. We want ABM to work in your business just as much as you do, so we take the time to guide and consult appropriately!
Measuring Metrics and Your Tech Stack
Measuring in ABM isn’t just about the metrics post-deal close nor is it just about benchmarking your pre-ABM state of the business. Account-based marketing is a strategic marketing approach that measures pre-ABM, present-ABM, and post-campaign metrics to better inform future campaigns, sales and marketing strategies, and organizational business objectives.
The first step to measuring is a combination of defining and measuring. At the very least, an ABM-ready business will measure the number of leads and the conversion of those leads into opportunities and customers. This makes the transition to thinking in terms of accounts rather than leads much smoother for the entire organization. Additionally, it is key to have definitions in place for each lifecycle stage, including:
Marketing qualified lead
Sales qualified lead (or Sales Accepted Lead)
If you have these definitions set in your organization and you are measuring lead conversions, you are headed in the right direction for ABM. If not, take the time to flesh these out in your next meeting to help all parties get on the same page – after all, ABM cannot succeed without organizational alignment.
Technology is crucial for ABM success. Now, that doesn’t mean just because you purchased and implemented an ABM software that you are ABM-ready. On the contrary, with only a software in place and none of the strategic work completed mentioned in previous sections, the software’s utility is virtually null and void. To be ABM-ready, at the very least a solid technology infrastructure will include a:
Marketing Automation System
Targeted ABM Advertising Tools
Contact Data ID and Augmentation Tool(s)
If these are either implemented in your business with no strategy behind them, or vice versa, make sure both strategy and tech stack are set to go before continuing down the path to an ABM program.
Your tech stack cannot function without content nor data, and because account-based marketing success depends partly on the right content reaching the right audience at the right time, it’s crucial to ensure your organization has content already made or at least the ability to build meaningful, targeted content to support an ABM initiative.
If your organization doesn’t have the capacity to create this kind of content nor the insights with which to drive this kind of content creation, this will be a major roadblock to ABM success.
If your organization has content capacity and a solid tech stack running to engage target accounts, you will be receiving data on your campaign, right? While it’s nice to assume content and tech stack alone will convert, your website must be optimized for conversions.
This means personalization where possible, form optimization, and readily available additional content post-conversion. If your website is not optimized for personalization nor conversions, you will need to do this before moving on with an ABM action plan.
Creating ABM Organizational Alignment
It’s been mentioned a few times already, but in the end, your organization will never be ABM-ready without at least the ability to align across functions, including marketing, sales and operations teams, to fully support an ABM focus. No more siloed departments competing for the spotlight. Everyone is in this together to hit key business objectives like increased average deal size, increased funnel velocity, and increased close rates.
It might seem like a heroic task to get your organization ABM-ready, but once it is ABM ready, the rest of the process towards ABM program implementation becomes much smoother.