An account-based marketing (ABM) program comes to life with a prescriptive journey that speaks directly to the individual on an account with personalized content. Sales loves the idea of personal communications and it’s easy to see the ROI from such custom programs. But how to start? In a mire of accounts, how do you boil the ocean to get down to those perfect crystals of salt that comprise a successful ABM program?
It takes math, a bit of marketing know-how, and strategically defining success. Here at Salesforce, that means aligning with internal teams, external experts and really understanding the meaning of collaboration.
Account Based Marketing Step 1: Seeking Math Experts
Oftentimes the ABM formula required to find 15 accounts out of 8,000 accounts equals a math problem that sends me in search of a tutor. So when trying to solve this equation, I did what any strategic marketer would do: I found the experts.
Sales leaders, marketing analytics and sales strategy are the experts within the Salesforce walls I sought to get started. Here’s what I learned: sales leaders love the idea of customer marketing and want to include as many accounts as possible, analytics experts are excited to track goals, and sales strategists are eager to see impact on deals.
My experts were ready to help track the success of the program but I was no closer to narrowing the account list.
Account Based Marketing Step 2: Marketing Research 101
Math aside, I had to go back to my marketing roots. It was time to research. I found blog posts, teammates who ran successful programs previously, attended a conference, dowloaded white papers, and collected the oars that would eventually help me steer my ABM life raft.
My main question: in a world of accounts, where contacts are as prevalent as the salt in the sea, how do you find those top accounts with the right contacts who will give you the chance to showcase the greatness that is ABM? Turns out, it was easier than 2+2. It was all in strategically defining success.
Account Based Marketing Step 3: Defining Success
In order to narrow the account list, the goals had to be the focus. I started a list with a wide range of possible ABM goals:
- Increase deal size: Requires more than one opportunity on the account
- Grow deal size: Deals could be small, but they had to span multiple products and add up to a substantial amount for the business
- See into the future: Hiring a mystic would help (wouldn’t that be convenient), but since budgets are limited, there would have to be growth opportunities past the fiscal year
- Beyond the account owner: Sales leaders would need to see the long-term growth potential for the account
- Grow relationships: The fewer C-level relationships already established, the better
- Creating a Trailblazer: Target those who weren’t an advocate of your company with the goal to inspire new champions, or in Salesforce terms: create a Trailblazer
- Building value through trust: Reach those who were trying make their business better, the truest purpose and greatest measure of success is building honest relationships
In the end, I ended up using a combination of these goals depending on the accounts we were going after.
Account Based Marketing Step 4: The Final Few
Once sales leaders understood that the real goal of the program was bigger than one deal and centered on establishing relationships, the conversations took a strategic turn. The final list of accounts resulted from true collaboration across teams with the goal to become more than just a vendor, but to build a relationship where products were put aside and strategic growth was the focus. In the end, the 15 accounts on the 1:1 ABM list for my segment came from working with sales after identifying the strategy.
I’d still rather swim in the ocean than try to boil it, but this ABM program is already proving to be worth its salt if for no other reason then establishing a closer relationship with sales and reinforcing my expertise as a marketer.
The next step will be identifying goals for each account and working through how to build relationships that matter.
Up next in the series: Developing & Launching a 1:1 Account Based Marketing Program While Juggling Keeping the Lights on with 1:Many Programs
Experts abound in the ABM space, both internal at Salesforce and external through vendors and partners. All help provide ways track success with realistic metrics, build a foundation of tactics and tools to create a custom program from scratch, and find the accounts make a difference to your business.