We’ve put together an easy to follow playbook on how to implement an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach yourself. As an ABM agency, our clients come to us because they don’t want a DIY approach and some have lengthier sales process or a marketing department that is not fully aligned with sales. Our process is more comprehensive and starts with sales re-engineering, but at least this simple approach gives you a shell to start with if you prefer to DIY.
Let’s drill down into the three crucial steps to creating an ABM playbook:
1. Define your target accounts
If you don’t do this first step, there’s no point in going further. ABM is grounded on the idea that the nurturing and prospecting process is targeted to specific named accounts and not blindly targeting all prospects and leads.
Prioritize your accounts. Accounts can be tiered so you know on which accounts to place the most effort and highest level of personalization with lower-tiered accounts often having a more general ABM approach.
Collaborate with the sales team. They can tell you the specific accounts that are high priority and that reaching those accounts will improve the chances of growth and revenue generation. No matter how the list is generated, buy-in from the sales team and sales leadership is paramount. An ABM approach is meant to eliminate the friction that has traditionally existed between marketing and sales teams. (Read: Sales reps vs ABM: who generates more revenues?)
Discover contacts at those specific accounts that are likely part of the buying committee, and keep note of various members of the buying committee. Try to understand if there’s an economic buyer, a procurement officer, and a C-suite sponsor for the particular product that you’re selling. Keep in mind that in a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions according to Gartner Group. And nearly 2/3 of B2B marketers identified engaging key decision makers as their top challenge [Source: Forrester Research].
Uncover account insights to incorporate relevant and timely aspects into your message strategy, such as news in the public arena.
2. Engage the buying team
Even though marketing starts with the lead, it’s important to continue to collaborate with the sales team across the entire campaign. This includes the content strategy, deployment of demand generation campaign, account nurturing, and the KPIs being monitored.
Align the content into a coordinated playbook or campaign flowchart to begin the initial outreach approach. Create content that speaks to top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and lower funnel. (Pro tip: remember that the outreach includes tactics executed by both marketing and sales.)
An aside on content: the best content comes from knowing your Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) and Personas. Really know who you’re talking to.
Activate automation tools to deploy various phases of the outreach campaign based on how the prospect account interacts and engages.
3. Activate Sales
Execute the full playbook and monitor or course correct based on any leading indicator metrics. This is where the tech stack helps with functions like lead scoring.
Begin executing playbooks toward additional tiers or segments. This assumes that accounts have been tiered by priority and have been identified by those that get a one-to-one approach vs one-to-few vs one-to-many.
Scale-up, test, and optimize as you go. Your metrics and KPIs should help identify campaign performance.
Following these three steps means that you’re doing some form of ABM. The process can get as sophisticated as you want based on the outcomes you seek, but at the least, these three tips form the core tenents of ABM. (Pro tip: remember that you don’t need to have all the bells and whistles to execute ABM. You just need a disciplined, aligned process.)