If you run a B2B business or work in marketing or sales you will probably have heard the phrase “Account-Based Marketing”, but why is it becoming the go-to strategy for many businesses, what makes it so effective and how does it work?
Account-based marketing (or ABM for short) is a relatively new concept that’s emerged in the B2B market over the past few years, with HubSpot claiming that “60% of B2B companies plan to launch an ABM based campaign in the next year”. You can read our in-depth guide to account-based marketing here – Account-Based Marketing: Your Step By Step Guide
“60% of B2B companies plan to launch an ABM based campaign in the next year”Source: Hubspot
Account-based marketing is a new type of B2B strategy which compliments existing sales and marketing strategies such as inbound marketing, advertising and direct outreach. The important thing to understand is that ABM is a strategic apporach rather than a feature set or collection of tools.
ABM is focused on targeting and closing high value deals
All deals are not created equal and with most verticals or sectors in B2B there are high value deals and high volume deals. Strategies such as inbound marketing are superb at attracting a higher volume of leads into your pipeline and ensure the sales team are constantly connecting and engaging with new prospects. This approach suits products, services or solutions with a short sales cycles, a single buyer and a lower value.
However, in many sectors and businesses, there are also a top tier of higher value deals, with multiple stakeholders, a longer sales process and smaller volume of target buyers. If you work in these sectors or are trying to attract these key accounts to your business, you will realise that this requires a far more structured approach, based on developing relationships with a multi-person buying group of up to 12 people, with highly-personalised content and it requires sales enablement with marketing and sales working together to identify and nurture opportunities. This is what ABM is all about.
What type of B2B companies benefit from ABM?
The companies that we have worked with over the years, on developing an effective ABM strategy tend to fit these profiles:
- High value business-to-business product or services – i.e manufacturing companies who are selling a high value piece of machinery.
- Sectors with a limited number of target companies – This could include the top 20% of high-value accounts in a sector. There are limited number of buyers who are a good fit or can afford to pay for the product.
- Companies who are regularly selling to multiple-person buying groups – This is normally the case with high-value B2B deals, that are complex and require input from multiple stakeholders. Remember this means multiple people on the buying side and also on the selling side.
- A sales process which requires highly personalised content and engagement – The success of a sale depends on the education of each of the multiple stakeholders with content that is highly relevant to them and their position in the buying process. Human engagement is key to these sales and you can not simply rely on automation.
So what makes ABM so effective?
The standard demand-generation process in marketing is a traditional “what” based funnel approach of creating valuable content to attract a volume of targeted visitors or personas, convert those visitors into leads which are then handed to sales to close into customers and revenue. Inbound starts with understanding the persona or person.
Account-based Marketing flips this approach around and starts with the “who” by identifying which company accounts are most likely to become high-value best-fit customers in a “target list”, then create highly personalised content that is relevent to those accounts, select the right channels and strategies to reach the right personas within these target accounts and nurture relationships with multiple personas within the company. As with sales enablement strategy, an effective ABM strategy relies on marketing and sales aligning around these target accounts. ABM starts with understanding the company.
Getting started with your ABM Strategy
As with any effective marketing and sales approach, the key to running your account-based marketing programme is in planning out a detailed strategy, identifying the tactics, skill sets in your team, technology needed, specific financial goals, timelines and metrics for success.
At the core of this is the alignment between your sales and marketing teams, so having a financial goal to unify the teams around is important. Marketing will be used to a one-to-many approach, while sales will used to dealing with the lead handed over by marketing. On top of this marketing and sales often use totally separate content and insights to fulfill their jobs, with ABM the two teams need to come together to engage buyers in a cohesive aligned way.
Get started on your ABM strategy by downloading our Step By Step Guide To Account-Based Marketing – Click below