The holy grail for B2B sales and marketing is finding the right accounts that drive revenue. ABM is the go-to strategy that delivers you the results.
Magical things happen when your sales and marketing teams are aligned around two things — customer and revenue.
We're in B2B and we get it — every B2B wants more customers at less cost.
You can reduce customer acquisition costs by:
- Shortening your sales cycle
- Laser focus your targeting
- Focus on larger deal sizes
In many ways, ABM is the answer to reducing customer acquisition costs, while at the same time helping your business focus on finding and keeping ideal customers.
That sounds like a win, no?
Let's explore ABM and if it's something you can implement for your B2B.
What is ABM?
Account-based marketing, plain and simple, is about channelling all your marketing efforts from a broader market towards a target account.
It's a customer-centric marketing strategy.
ABM unifies the effort of your sales and marketing teams on creating value across all segments of the buying committee. When deployed effectively, it improves marketing relevancy towards these high-value target accounts.
Here's HubSpot's definition of ABM:
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.
Despite the name, ABM is a strategy involving multiple teams such as sales, customer success, product development and marketing.
All this makes ABM an exclusively B2B marketing strategy as well — as it involves building relationships with individuals in the buying committee of a target account. It is particularly effective for B2B SaaS businesses with high annual contract value operating in a niche category.
In summary, ABM is perfect for B2B companies that have:
- High annual contract value
- Buying committee involved
- Longer sales cycles
- Market opportunities are limited
ABM vs Inbound marketing
Even so, ABM is not a standalone strategy.
Powerful alone but combined with inbound marketing makes it a robust strategy.
Here's a table outlining what the differences are between inbound marketing and ABM:
|Inbound marketing||Account-based marketing|
|✔️ A methodology of attracting your ideal customers by creating valuable content.||✔️A strategy of identifying high-value target accounts and creating a personalised strategy to reach them.|
|✔️ Focuses on ideal customer profiles||✔️ Focuses on target accounts|
|✔️ Attracting the right audience||✔️ Attracting the right decision-makers|
|✔️ Creating content for the individual buyer mapped to the buyers' journey||✔️ Creating content for the buying committee under one account|
In fact, if you've started implementing inbound marketing in your business, you have the right foundations for a strong ABM strategy.
For example, say that you are a B2B business offering accounting services, and you've already launched an inbound marketing campaign to attract your ideal customers.
ABM builds on that foundation, directing resources on specific high-value target accounts and creating valuable content targetted to the buying committee.
What are the benefits of ABM?
If happiness is a metric, the number one ROI we get from ABM is happier customers.
This means a win-win for your business as well:
- Better fit clients
- Faster closings
- Longer contracts
- Bigger deal sizes
Additional benefits of ABM to your B2B business:
- Focus limited resources on high-value accounts
- Create better internal alignment for your sales and marketing teams
- Driving revenue is the objective and outcome
Is ABM the right strategy for your B2B?
While the benefits of ABM are plenty, there are some factors that make it the right strategy for you to implement.
If you're facing any of the following challenges:
- You have no problem generating leads but not enough qualified leads
- Your marketing and sales team are siloed and not collaborating
- Your sales cycle is long and complex involving multiple decision-makers
Conversely, if you don't have long sales cycles or if your deal value per target account isn't large enough it may not warrant you to implement and ABM strategy.
How to implement ABM in your B2B business?
The foundation of any successful ABM strategy is:
- Complete buy-in from C-suite executives
- Alignment between sales and marketing
- Access to the tools and tech required
Let's take a look at each point in detail.
Complete buy-in from C-suite executives
Alignment begins at the top, and its about setting the right goals and objectives. Why? All good strategy starts with having the right goals.
ABM is also a long-term campaign, and its not about winning one opportunity but looking at winning multiple deals over the lifetime of the account. That dedication to ABM requires a strategy beyond a simple nod — ABM is a commitment.
Alignment between sales and marketing
Sales and marketing alignment is something you would see come up a lot in definitions around ABM.
The three ways ABM can work between the two teams:
- One-to-one. A dedicated senior marketer will work with the account team to find the best strategy.
- One-to-few. A marketer will work with 5-15 accounts, usually in the same industry and experiencing similar issues.
- One-to-many. Working with a high number of carefully selected accounts.
It's important that sales and marketing agree on the target list of accounts, clearly defined SOP for handoff of leads and lifecycle stages and aligned metrics. Both teams have to familiarise themselves with ABM from the get-go to ensure a fully effective implementation.Access to the tools and tech required
ABM is made possible with access to the right tools. Without a doubt, it's essential to have a CRM and access to marketing automation that allows personalisation at scale.
It's also worth pointing out that subscribing to these tools alone is not implementing an "ABM strategy". We'll dive into this in more detail in the next section.
The ABM strategy
The four phases of ABM are:
- Identifying target accounts
- Preparing your campaign assets
- Deployment with the right tools
- Measuring results
Let's look at each phases in detail.
1. Identifying target accounts
You can begin developing target accounts from your ideal customer profile (ICP) or customers.To create a list of target accounts, you can begin by looking at your current customers and identify the trends between your best/favorite accounts.
These may include:
- Size of company
- Annual revenue
- Buyer behavior
Once you identify these accounts you can put together a list of matching accounts and applying account tiering (tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3).
2. Preparing your campaign assets
Here, you build on the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy, creating campaign assets that is not just personalised to individuals in various stages of the funnel but tailored to persons in the buying committee.
Map out the touchpoints and buying journey for each buying role, identify triggers and touchpoints for creating relevant content and make sure they are ready for deployment.
Assets may include:
- Social media
- Landing pages
3. Deployment with the right tools
The right tools enable true alignment between marketing and sales.
As we aluded to earlier, the right tools make ABM possible. Software has come a long way to enable sharing of data and make building lists of your target accounts easier than ever.
A single source of truth ensures that all your customer data is in one place, creating the bedrock for collaboration.
Next, you'd need to be looking at data enrichment tools like Terminus or Rollworks that help enrich the customer intent data around your target accounts.
Finally, you'll be needing an ABM implementing tool or marketing automation platform for delivering personalised content and measuring results. You can now created personalised targetting at scale, and support that with lead nurturing and scoring through automations.
4. Measuring results
For most marketers, ABM gets tricky as it requires you to move away from traditional marketing metrics such as clickthrough rates and CPL, and instead look at pipeline and close rates. Ultimately this also means moving away from quarterly targets to seeing the long-term play.
This is truly where ABM tools shine — allowing you to measure the performance of your marketing content and revenue attribution. Analytics and reports allow constant iteraton of your ABM strategy, so you can analyse your performance and optimise to improve.
Tip: Beyond traditional KPIs, look at how your campaign is performing across entire accounts, and not just for individuals in these accounts.
For the right B2B where ABM is the correct strategy, its a no brainer.
Here at Content Chemistry, we can help you with building an ABM strategy for your business by applying our expertise in inbound marketing along with HubSpot to deliver a powerful combination that can transform your business. Click on the button below to book in a session.
Samuel is a Digital Marketing Specialist with Content Chemistry, a digital marketing agency and a HubSpot Solutions Partner and Google Partner based in Sydney. He is enthusiastic about good coffee, Malaysian food and watching movies.