Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a very recently thought-out inbound marketing method to gain or maximise business growth if you have long sales cycles or low lead volumes with high deal values. ABM is well-suited to enterprise-level organisations.
In short, it is essentially very specifically targeted content or email campaigns within larger organisations, with several touchpoints within the same department.
So, how do we begin?
Sales & Marketing Alignment
Before embarking on a large-scale account-based marketing campaign, it is essential to ensure that your sales function is perfectly in tune with your front-line marketers. ABM focusses less on the volume of contact data your database holds, and more on the quality of relationships you hold with the contacts you do have.
It places a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that every single interaction with a client or prospect produces a great deal more value. A great CRM to bolster all of your activity will also be key to tracking these valuable interactions, managing leads, and personalisation of your content.
Let’s assume for a moment that you have chosen HubSpot as your weapon of choice.
Sort The Wheat From the Chaff
Marketing key accounts only works well if, well… you know who they are. By sifting out your key accounts from the less-pertinent accounts within your database or sector, you can identify where your efforts could be best spent. Due to the acutely focused nature of account-based marketing, it is essential not to be too broad in your selection process. By bringing your focus narrower, you can really hone in on the personalisation elements of your ABM campaign.
For example, targetting specific industries or segments, and then selecting 3-5 top accounts within that space, and more specifically targetting an individual department and all its employees. The value of the contracts, products or services you are selling will most-definitely not come from generic, unplanned emails and a few cold calls. You will need to plan hard, be diligent, get to know your stakeholders and most importantly, be patient.
We’ve already discussed getting to know your stakeholders. However, we haven’t yet covered the depths to which you will need to understand and appreciate them. Before hitting send on your first outreach, consider:
Do I know what this person is interested in? Do I know any of their pain points as an organisation? What problem does this person’s role pose to them on a weekly basis?
Perhaps more simply, has this person posted anything particularly insightful or interesting on his LinkedIn profile recently? Who in the department are they responsible for?
Answers to questions similar to the above will put you in good stead to construct a truly considered, thoughtful and tailored outreach – whether that be by phone, email, or social outreach. You may be starting to get the picture by now, but ABM pivots heavily around your ability as a sales or marketing representative to empathise with them and supply content or support that is of direct importance to them.
Working your network
One very important thing to bear in mind is that account-based marketing encourages you to flip your process on its head and work backward. As a B2B marketer or sales rep, you must identify your target accounts first and build your contact bases within them as a second step.
This list of contacts will need to consist of both influential decision makers and more junior members of staff who support your primary target on a daily basis. With an ABM campaign, you’re not focussing on one single contact. You must treat the business as a whole ecosystem who play their role in decision making.
The Crossover Between Account-based Marketing & Inbound Marketing
ABM, when done badly, can pose a risk of leading marketers astray, despite the fact at their very core, they are so closely aligned in their thinking; that marketing should be relevant, personalised, holistic, human and helpful.
In a B2B setting, seeing a specific content through the eyes of the organisation is absolutely mandatory. From their responsibilities, all the way out to the ways they interact within the business every day. HubSpot’s tool stack allows you to get to beyond-granular levels of personalisation, automation, and alignment with a graceful underlying tone of simplicity and ease.
Now, let’s have a look at the tool stack available.
A Market-leading CRM
Given that ABM leans so heavily on customer relationships, it would naturally make sense that you will need an intuitive CRM to manage those interactions. HubSpot’s free CRM brings unrivaled simplicity to contact management.
Adding a contact into your database will automatically populate the organisation’s data it can find from the domain in the email address alone. Tieing in both the sales activity and marketing activity against a specific contact record ensures no duplication of contact and a perfect record of interaction. No double-taps, no opportunities missed.
A Market-leading CRM
Synergistic Sales & Marketing Suites
The tools available within both the Sales & Marketing Hubs are so cleverly designed to work together, it can sometimes be a struggle to distinguish which tool is set for which. With a bit of proficiency and practice, the two suites will work side-by-side to send 1:1 messages from sales and efficiently track said message’s progress once it has left the door, including open rates, click-throughs, page views that stem from the messaging and the associated analytics underpinning the whole campaign.
The Marketing Suite will also help you plant a firm footprint and build recognition in your industry. Credibility will, of course, help with your account-based marketing campaign.
The Personal Touch
HubSpot can efficiently add all the trimmings to your personalised approach. Targeted CTAs, Contact tokens, Smart forms and custom templating make tailoring almost criminally achievable. To perch the cherry on the top of the cake, via integration with 3rd party partners like Perfect Audience, your personlisation can actually extend to off-site remarketing ads.
The Personal Touch
Within the confines of HubSpot, you can generate custom reports on the growth of companies over time. Metrics like revenue potential, job titles, engagement levels and response rates can all be rolled up into intuitive and informative custom graphs to track your ABM progress.
A solid account-based marketing strategy is fast proving itself to be the best and most efficient way to maximise revenue from high-value, low volume accounts. SAAS companies or Implementation consultancies, in particular, will benefit from ABM. That said, the principles we’ve discussed today can, and should, be applied in many more areas.
As a Sales Manager myself, I can certainly empathise with the hesitancy you may feel when planning to come at a large account from all angles. However, as with all new sales and marketing methodologies and techniques, there will be an adjustment period. After which, it will feel normal.
Provided that you have carefully mapped out the organisational structure correctly, understand each individual to an appropriate level and have research enough, you should be well on track to steering clear of the “going above their head” conundrum which has bitten many a salesman in the past.
As an agency specialising in Inbound Marketing, we understand that there is no set formula that will be effective for life. As the ecosystem surrounding us moves and evolves, we must too.
If you, yourself, are a sufferer of the long sales cycle, or tend to close deals of a much higher value with lower frequency, we would be well-equipped to assist you in setting up a water-tight ABM strategy. To ask any questions you may have, or get in touch with our Sales team, please feel free to head over to our contact us page.