In part one of this series, we defined account-based marketing (ABM), discussed why it mattered, and highlighted the need for a unified data strategy to create a single-source of truth.
But many marketers still grapple with the question: is ABM a strategy or a technology?
While ABM technology can certainly help marketers leverage data and speed to drive maximum efficiency, delivering personalized experiences off the back of a holistic data-based understanding is just part of the equation.
ABM technology, on its own, can’t meet the need for a personalized and connected experience that our customers have come to expect.
The second part of the equation is all about the people and processes.
Now more than ever, humans like working with humans.
As the majority of businesses today are finding new and innovative ways to lead through change and communicate with customers during crisis, one thing remains true: humans enjoy working with other humans — even when those interactions are remote and take place over the phone or video conferencing. Now more than ever, these human interactions are extremely meaningful to everyone, including the B2B buyer.
With as much focus that marketers place on the digital interface, it may surprise you that 76% of B2B buyers find it helpful to speak to a person when they are researching a new product or service. Furthermore, 94% of B2B buyers say that they would buy more from a company when they have live interactions with knowledgeable employees. But take note, nothing frustrates the B2B buyer more than a slow response time.
Think about this:
Buyers value superior experience as much as the product itself, but the experience isn’t complete if the brand isn’t tailoring its interactions to their specific needs. Studies show that while you’re focusing on that, the buyer will complete 90% of the decision making before talking to you. But, once the human-to-human conversation starts, buyers overwhelmingly appreciate the human interaction, as long as it is timely and well-informed.
While technology can’t replace the human interaction…
…that interaction can solve what technology cannot. This is especially true when it comes to the buying experience and an account-based go-to-market strategy.
Integrating Business Development Representatives (BDRs) into a marketing organization can pay significant dividends for your account-based marketing initiatives. A good BDR will take the time to understand the account, build meaningful understanding of the individual buyers, and knit together a holistic view of the account. In the process, the BDR can overcome data integration limitations that technology cannot and can round out key account discovery functions. But most importantly, BDRs can interpret the data and activate the account at the exact right time, with finesse.
If you are running an ABM program, but you’re treating the output like traditional “leads” and kicking them over to your sales team when the buyer raises shows intent, then your ABM program is missing a critical link.
If you’ve not considered incorporating BDRs into your go-to-market strategy, it might be time to take another look at what that means. There is a ton of conversation out there on who should “own” the SDR/BDR function, and most research shows that 65% of BDR organizations still report-in to sales. This is a topic for another post, but I do want to convey that the account-based BDR is its own function, with its own metrics, and its own unique value.
When all else fails, test it.
If there is one thing that I love most about B2B marketing, it is that data doesn’t lie. When all else fails, test it. Which is exactly what I did.
I have long been a huge fan of outbound calling as a marketing tactic, so when I began making the transition to the more modern version of the account-based approach I was quick to explore how the BDR could fit in. In exploring this, there are two test that we ran that really stick out:
Test One: An account-based campaign in the healthcare segment where we split-test identical audiences with an identical product and CTA. The goal was to understand whether incorporating BDRs into a holistic account-based mix vs. a traditional approach would yield an improved result.
- Split “A” ran without account-based tactics: A mix of display advertising, email, and outbound calling.
- Split “B” ran with account-based tactics: A mix of account-based display, personalized account-based email, and outbound calling.
At the end of the ninety days we found that split “B” yielded a 36% reduction in cost per opportunity, delivering substantially more opportunities in the same period. The final result was more than 900 opportunities delivered to our channel partner in an 8 month period.
Test Two: An account-based campaign in the retail segment where all tactics were identical, except one include BDRs and one did not. The goal was to validate the inclusion of the BDRs at all.
- Split “A” ran with a mix of account-based display, paid social, account-based email, and events
- Split “B” ran with all of “A,” plus BDRs placing calls in tandem
At the end of the test, Split “B” generated 300% more opportunities in the same period of time, delivering 77% of the SAM to the sales team in 90 days.
Human Interaction: The Missing Link in your ABM
Account-based marketing is a complex web of best practices, technology, and change management. While we all want to hit the easy button, the reality is that ABM is best implemented one step at a time, in the context of what your business and its buyers need. Taking your time to build an iterative data-based technology-enabled approach is the right path, but if you aren’t including the direct interface with your buyer in the equation then your program will suffer.
A well-executed account-based go-to-market strategy delivers exceptional results, because it is what B2B buyers want.