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The Reality Of ABM? It’s All About The Contacts

JohnHurleyThis story originally appeared on our sister publication, ABM In Action.

Smart practitioners know that, at its core, ABM is all about people. People still pick up phones, sign contracts and make decisions, so the ability to source high-quality contacts who can serve as decision makers and deal champions is key to a team’s success.

What most don’t realize is that without accurate, updated contacts within targeted accounts, any other resources or work are null and void. Without the right contacts, you can’t make the sale. Shifting your company’s focus from a wide-range of leads to highly targeted individuals — each with their own tailored strategy — is why this method wins.

The Great Contact Gap

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 In just one hour, 521 business addresses will change, 872 telephone numbers will switch or disconnect, 1,504 URLs will be created or altered and 158 companies will modify their corporate structure. Even if you have the most finely tuned target account list, without the right tools to source and maintain contacts, teams run into issues of poor reach and low engagement. Consequently, sales teams’ productivity plummets as they spend their time on outdated leads and costs skyrocket to afford the ill-targeted digital ads.

To combat this, cleaning, rebooting and maintaining your database can make a world of difference. In fact, according to a report conducted by Radius in partnership with Harvard Business Review, 74% of companies with advanced data strategies say they have a better market position than competitors. This means having access to source as many contacts as a marketer needs to find information on influencers, executives, uses and even gatekeepers to drive deals through the right individuals.

Don’t Get Sucked Into Common Mistakes

With all the hype and the incredible opportunities available, marketers are rapidly jumping on the chance to invest in ABM. But with the possibility of greater targeting and greater results, there are several traps to get caught in along the way.

Cleaning Once

Only 37% of companies say they have advanced data strategies. But these companies do a better job of attracting and retaining customers, earning a bigger share of customer wallet and generating more revenue than companies still struggling with data analytics, according to the Harvard report. With so many automated data cleansing solutions out there, it can be tough to choose the one that’s right for you. Traditional data providers can patch your problem, but not solve it all together. With these dated, single-use solutions, data quality can be low and become stale quickly — it’s not a long-term solution. Companies need an option that can develop and revive as quickly as their prospects do. Finding a solution to do this automatically allows marketers to stay nimble and continue conversations with prospects as they move.

Single-Threaded Accounts

Being single-threaded means you’ve only developed a relationship with one person at an organization and companies can waste thousands or even millions by putting all their eggs in one basket and focusing attention on a single individual who then may leave or back out of a deal. When people think of the person they want to target, they zero in on the decision makers. In reality, there are approximately six to nine stakeholders in enterprise deals. So, focusing on the one who might sign the contract at the end of the day limits your ability to fully seize an opportunity; there are multiple contacts that make up your buying group.

Think bottoms up roles, such as the users and managers of your product, and tops down roles, including decision makers, influencers and ratifiers, the C-Suite, legal and board — both opportunities provide a way to reach a target account. By identifying multiple stakeholders, the money you put towards a company has more opportunities to convert sales, events and upselling.

Batch And Blast

Once you get your hands on contacts, mass emails and call blitzes seem like the first logical step. While these age-old tactics may build awareness, they won’t build the meaningful engagement you need to win deals. You need to reach your contacts where they are and how they communicate — on social media, professional networking sites and traditional media platforms — which means you need more than just their professional information, but their consumer information as well. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, an omnichannel approach to engaging buyers can accelerate deals by up to 30%. But in order to connect with buyers where they find information, it’s critical to find them on their consumer channels. Without a single contact profile that contains both business and consumer contact information, marketers fall back on tired channels like email and phone. So, map the buyer journey, align content to stages and channels, and activate to allow your contacts to engage with you on their terms. By reaching leads where they are, marketers create a personal experience with the brand.

The Opportunity

As our industry moves in the direction of account-based marketing and companies put into place an ABM strategy, we enter a new realm where the contacts are king. According to ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance’s 2017 ABM Benchmark Study, 87% of companies say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing. The value from developing a personal relationship with stakeholders at a company is irrefutable and it’s having an impact on all areas of companies and aligning sales and marketing teams on goals, objectives and campaigns that are all focused on individuals.