Does Your ABM Strategy Feel More Like ‘Account-Based Sales?’

Published: October 7, 2016

Abhishek Kashyap MarianaHow many of your new marketing leads are in target accounts your sales reps care about? Leading companies have started to embrace account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, but their implementations often resemble account-based sales, with marketers struggling to efficiently market to target accounts.

Sales teams have started spending almost 100% of their time on target accounts, and most marketers are not even measuring how many new leads are in target accounts. My guess is the true ABM leads number at most companies would be surprisingly low. Even best-in-class results seem to be around 20% to 30% (based on my conversations with marketers).

Here are some ways to effectively bring marketing into ABM efforts, especially in relation to company revenue.

Align Content Marketing And Demand Generation

It is well known that 70% of buyer research happens digitally (SiriusDecisions). Marketers have tried to address that growing web research through content marketing. However, these efforts often focus on organic reach, which hardly covers the buyers and influencers at target accounts. 

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Companies may have a demand generation function to find new leads, but this task is typically executed by a separate team without much coordination. There is an opportunity to align demand generation and content teams to  better leverage content that attracts and reaches buyers in target accounts. Consistently reaching the right audience during the buying journey brings complete product awareness and leads to more sales inquiries — and less need for cold calls.

Make Demand Generation Strategic

Demand Generation is typically executed as individual campaigns that are turned on or off at any time. While revenue and pipeline targets are set annually, campaign budgets are still set quarterly. Demand Generation should be a strategic part of the marketing plan, tied to annual targets for sales, cycle length, renewals and churn. Demand generation tools should be used to target prospects at target accounts at each stage of the pipeline — top, nurture, sales closing, renewals. This can only be accomplished through a strategic annual plan tied to company goals.

Focus On Target Personas Within Accounts

A typical sale has five to six stakeholders (Harvard Business Review), which means you have to market to all six, and not market to all 50,000 employees at the company (which is called spam). Within the six stakeholders there are further differences. For example, a security engineer influencer needs very different messages and needs to be engaged earlier in the cycle, while the IT program director buyer needs outreach with ROI messages later in the cycle.

One solution is to build a single calendar that includes content and demand gen campaigns. Generate content by persona, stage of deals and account demographics. Plan social, email, and SEM campaigns for each piece of content. Paid channels should be restricted to include people only in target accounts — and to take it further, only matching personas within those accounts. This messaging strategy keeps content relevant to each person viewing it and increases trust in your brand, thus leading to higher engagement and greater purchase intent.

With a comprehensive ABM plan, all buyer and influencers can be targeted with relevant content continuously through various organic and paid channels, resulting in more, and faster, sales. Finally, start measuring percent leads in target accounts. This makes marketing a part of ABM and contributor to revenue.

Abhishek Kashyap is Co-Founder and Head of Products at Mariana, a B2B demand generation platform that leverages deep learning to find and convert existing and new prospects. Prior to Mariana, Abhishek launched and managed pipeline for multiple products at Pivotal and VMware. Abhishek has also worked at McKinsey & Company as a strategy consultant.His Twitter handle is@abhi_kash.

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