What Exactly is ABM and Why Do You Need It?

Higher revenue. Less time spent chasing down dead-end leads. Shorter sales cycles. These are just a few of the many benefits that Account Based Marketing (ABM) delivers. Today’s salespeople have tools and platforms to drive relationships to new heights using ABM. With this juicy collection of benefits, ABM should be a salesperson’s dream right now.

In spite of these advantages, less than 40% of surveyed businesses use ABM as a primary marketing strategy. Many sales and marketing teams still have no idea how ABM works and other organizations are unaware of the many benefits it delivers. Below is a look at the key steps involved with ABM and the top eight reasons why your organization needs ABM.

What is ABM and how does it work?

“Account based marketing is more targeted and personalized versus spray and pray, where you’re just trying to capture anyone in your net. You’re being very specific about who you want to talk with, and it’s a way for sales and marketing to align on the target.”

- Meagen Eisenberg, CMO, MongoDB

ABM is a sharply focused marketing strategy that involves identifying and tracking down hand-chosen accounts that align perfectly with your business objectives. Its unique approach involves collaboration between sales and marketing teams to zero in on top customers and prospects that are most likely to invest in your products.

The key distinguishing feature of ABM is its personalized approach. Rather than casting a wide net and hoping to catch a good lead, ABM uses a targeted approach to marketing and selling. Sales and marketing teams collaborate to identify accounts that are “ideal customers”. Then, customized campaigns are developed according to the customers’ preferred communication channels and buying cycles. Megan Golden of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions outlines seven key steps involved with ABM:

1) Make a list of valuable accounts

The first and most important step in ABM is to carefully review your customer base to identify accounts that adhere to your definition of an ideal customer. In most cases, your top priority accounts will be those that are the most profitable and those who have the most long-term potential.

2) Identify the key players with each account

Achieving consensus among account stakeholders is essential to securing a final purchasing decision. With ABM, you can attain this goal by linking the concerns and requirements of key decision-makers to company objectives to stimulate buying interest.

3) Develop targeted campaigns

Building a nurturing relationship with your account and contacts is the cornerstone of successful ABM. So during this step, you need to create campaigns that resonate with the needs and interests of your accounts. Be sure to personalize your campaigns and align them with the account’s buying cycle.

4) Determine preferred communication channels

This step involves determining which channels your target accounts are most comfortable using to engage with your business. Examples include email, direct mail, and events such as trade shows. Keep in mind that preferred channels may vary according to industry or a contact’s individual role.

5) Develop a strategy

Clarifying roles and responsibilities for sales and marketing staff is necessary for ABM to succeed. Make sure to specify exactly which tactics sales and marketing staff will use to stimulate interest and motivate the account to take action. Remember that account contacts will often have different priorities, so make sure that you keep those priorities in mind as you select your sales and marketing tactics.

6) Launch your campaigns

Now that you have determined who performs which task and when, it is time to begin engaging with the account on an individual level using email, special events, and other techniques. Be sure to capitalize on relationships during the outreach process to maximize results.

7) Measure your results

The ultimate goal of ABM is to move accounts through the procurement process. So when measuring results, remember to focus on the account as a whole as opposed to individual contacts. Focus on tracking total opportunities, closed opportunities, and the total dollar amount generated for each account.

Why does your organization need ABM?

ABM is one of the few strategies that offers a host of specific benefits to sales and marketing teams. By fostering collaboration, reducing costs, and boosting customer satisfaction, ABM provides a solution that is the best of both worlds for sales VPs and marketing directors alike. Here are the top eight reasons why your organization needs ABM:

1) You will enjoy an impressive ROI

“Four out of five B2B marketers believe that the ROI of ABM is higher than that of other marketing initiatives. Further, only 3% of B2B marketers found the ROI of account-based marketing to be lower than the ROI of broad-based marketing. On the other side, 44% of ABM practitioners said their ABM investment returns were much higher than returns with previous marketing approaches.”

- Jared Dodson, ABM Leader and Marketing Strategist at Lenati

As the owner or marketing director of a growing business, you are likely seeking solutions that are proven to yield a high ROI. Research shows that ABM produces a higher ROI than other marketing strategies, with nearly half of surveyed marketers reporting that investment returns are “much higher” than returns produced by other marketing strategies.

2) Your sales cycles will shorten

A shorter sales cycle is one of the many reasons why ABM is a salesperson’s dream. The average B2B sales cycle averages roughly 90 days, which can be frustrating to sales representatives. ABM can dramatically shorten the sales cycle because primary decision makers are identified and nurtured from the start. Sales professionals do not have to spend time determining whether a prospect is a good fit for their business model.

3) Your teams will engage more with key accounts

Statistics show that engaged customers are more apt to move forward with purchases and become repeat buyers. They are also less likely to stray from your business and buy from a competitor. When you use ABM, you can easily track the responses you receive from your targeted accounts and deliver personalized communications based upon their response to your campaigns. This sophisticated and targeted level of engagement helps to move customers through the sales funnel and increases the likelihood that they will invest in your products.

4) You will waste less time

Few things are more frustrating to business owners than wasted time and resources. ABM’s targeted style enables you to accomplish more with less. Here are some of the ways that ABM will help prevent your teams from wasting time and resources:

5) Your sales-marketing alignment will improve

“To break down walls between sales and marketing, ABM is pretty close to a silver bullet in that it aligns programs’ dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales team cares about…It’s most effective when deployed as part of a comprehensive set of targeting strategies.”

- Dave Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn Solutions

Sales-marketing alignment can bolster revenue by as much as 208%. Unfortunately, most organizations report a disconnect between sales and marketing teams. Shari Johnston, Principal of Digby, refers to ABM as “The Secret Sauce to Sales and Marketing Alignment”, noting that working together on key accounts helps to reduce finger-pointing between the two departments.

6) You will build trust among customers and prospects

When you design a sales strategy that reflects the unique needs and desires of key accounts and contacts, you will increasingly earn the trust of those customers. You will also build authenticity and establish your company as the “Go-to” source for personalized solutions.

7) Your team members will buy into ABM

“We were able to partner and deliver quick wins on our pilot programs with some of my top reps which built trust and proved out ABM’s ability to achieve an impressively high ROI. Given the success, we were able to quickly scale and extend ABM across the entire Enterprise sales team from technology, processes, tactics, and headcount resources. The Enterprise sales team is now sold on ABM.”

- Dan Lovette — VP Sales OpenDNS (now CIsco)

Employees are often reluctant to buy into the latest sales and marketing strategies that are introduced to them. But ABM’s ability to shorten sales cycles and deliver “quick wins” enables it to quickly earn the support and trust of sales and marketing professionals alike.

8) Customer satisfaction will be higher

You and your employees are not the only ones who will reap the benefits of ABM. With ABM’s personalized interactions, your prospects and key accounts will have a more enjoyable and fruitful customer experience. They will appreciate the time that your team members have taken to understand their goals and buying cycles and will be more apt to refer friends and colleagues to your business.

The Bottom Line

Account Based Marketing offers a cost-effective path to success for organizations seeking to capitalize on high-value accounts and increase customer satisfaction. At the same time, ABM naturally aligns sales and marketing teams to improve interdepartmental collaboration. By offering a variety of benefits to sales and marketing teams, ABM is a win-win solution for organizations of all sizes.

This article first appeared on Jefflizik.com

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