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Executing Account-Based Marketing Plays: Four Steps To Success

  • Written by Jennifer Toton, AdRoll Group
  • Published in Demanding Views

Taking an account-based approach to customer acquisition isn’t simply a marketing initiative —it’s a business strategy that crosses multiple teams and tactics. To put it simply, the more developed your account-based strategy is, the more involved other teams in the organization become. This allows you to deploy more robust sales and marketing plays across a wider set of channels to drive higher engagement, lock in new meetings, increase deal velocity and expand or retain accounts.

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However, without a clear plan for running coordinated marketing and sales plays, account-based marketing (ABM) programs often stall or fall short of expectations. To avoid this, it’s essential to establish consistent touch points, ownership across teams and your audience.

Here are four steps you can follow to whip your approach to ABM into top shape — regardless of where you stand in your ABM journey.

Alignment Starts With Simple SDR Plays

Even if you’re just getting started with ABM, you probably already have a partnership between marketing and sales development. This makes a solid foundation for successful program execution, and with just a few enhancements, your team can become even more account-based.

To refine your account-based plays, marketers and sales development reps (SDRs) need to rally around an established target audience to begin providing air cover. These should be high-fit accounts — whether from your ideal customer profile (ICP) or a set target account list — that you plan to get in front of through various channels.  

Here’s an example of what a coordinated marketing and SDR play could look like for your team:

  • Day 1: Launch 60-day campaign to serve targeted ads to all selected accounts;
  • Day 14: Deliver direct mail to recipients; and
  • Days 15–16: SDRs begin outreach touch pattern to all direct mail recipients.

Expand To All Of Sales

If you’ve gotten your feet wet with better marketing and SDR coordination, you should begin expanding your cross-functional team to include more of the sales organization. Whether you’re targeting an ICP or a set target account list, your team should start to develop a more robust orchestration plan that defines individuals responsible for completing specific actions within a given sequence.

Without an orchestration plan, marketing, sales development and sales teams may end up delivering piecemeal account touches that frequently conflict with one another and fail to progress prospective accounts.

Keep in mind that an effective orchestration plan should clearly document all campaign elements, including objectives, offers, audience and resources. Ultimately, it is a blueprint that defines channels that marketing, sales development and sales will use to deliver coordinated touches in a specific cadence. The expected outcomes are defined and the leader from each discipline signs off on their team's commitment.

Optimize And Scale Orchestration Across Teams

Research shows that even organizations that understand the value of an account-based strategy still struggle to build an easy-to-leverage orchestration plan involving cross-functional teams. As you’re optimizing, you’ll likely begin to involve more channels, more teams and more budget. Once you've put an orchestration plan in place, there are multiple ways you can optimize and scale orchestration. This includes channel expansion or going beyond ads and direct mail to include events, personalized content and site personalization. In addition, consider touch-pattern plans tailored to specific audiences or calls to action.

Increase The Impact Of Account-Based Programs Across The Business

Once you’ve been running account-based programs for some time, you will need to expand your scope to increase the impact across the business. With this added level of complexity and expansion, the most sophisticated account-based organizations take a full customer-lifecycle view to improve outcomes for their most important customers and prospects at every stage of the cycle.

 At this point, your account-based teams will start to focus on two key plays — velocity and expansion. Once accounts are engaged and meetings are being set, top-performing account-based organizations will add new plays. Velocity plays will aim to progress an account more quickly through the funnel and decrease the time to revenue and sales cycle. Expansion plays broaden customer relationships and existing deals that are growing, and create new opportunities with current customers.

The best ABM organizations are expanding their efforts to include more prospects and customers, and even other parts of their own business. With this direction in mind, you can take your account-based plays from infancy to maturity, and prove both marketing and sales can work together to close the deals that matter most.

Jennifer Toton joined AdRoll Group in December 2017 as Vice President of Marketing of RollWorks, AdRoll Group’s B2B division. She is responsible for brand building, demand generation, content marketing and social media. Her team’s mission is to empower B2B marketers to drive growth by making meaningful connections with the right people, wherever they are online. Prior to joining AdRoll Group, she owned strategy, GTM, customer positioning, messaging and buyer’s journey for Autodesk’s $500M ARR AutoCAD product line. Jennifer has significant expertise launching and growing cloud / SaaS and mobile offerings and is experienced in building brands at startup through Fortune 500 companies and accelerating revenue in mature business lines. She has a BA in psychology from Stanford University and an MBA in marketing and finance from Northwestern University.