Account-Based Marketing 101

Leads, leads, leads. For many of us, our primary marketing objective is to generate leads. It seems to be what unites marketers across so many different industries and verticals. We want more and more prospects to fill our company’s sales funnels. Not just leads, but qualified leads. More qualified leads means more revenue, right? Well, imagine if ALL your leads were qualified. Better yet, imagine that they weren’t just qualified but all worth the revenue of your top clients. Wouldn’t that be amazing?! Think about all the time you’d save by not creating proposals for clients that will never close or for clients who you just know aren’t a great fit. Think about all that revenue (aka moola) and all the sweet sweet cred you’ll get around the office for being the best!

This doesn’t have to be a fantasy! With Account-Based Marketing (ABM), this can be, and is, a reality. When marketing and sales combine their powers you can start to focus on your quality of leads, not just the quantity.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Hubspot defines ABM as “a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.” So, basically, have sales and marketing work together to build ideal customer profiles (ICPs), so both can work together to help close those high-value leads or accounts.

Let’s say your company provides corporate event planning to major companies across multiple industries across the country. You’ve looked over your closed deals from the last year and have found that deals for companies in the financial industry have revenue that is twice(!) the size of leads from companies in the healthcare industry. So naturally you now understand that a lead from a finance company is much more valuable than from healthcare. If you know that the deal size is likely to be double, wouldn’t you treat that lead or account a little differently? Maybe give them the white glove treatment? That’s where ABM comes in.

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Marketing and Sales, Peanut Butter and Jelly

Before implementing an ABM strategy, we are often communicating to our audience by looking at them by industry: “How can our product/service solve the challenges of X industry?” with ABM, we drill down even further. Instead, we communicate directly to the accounts or companies within those industries. “How can our product/service solve the challenges of X company?” See the difference? Adjusting our focus on the company allows us to look at the specific traits that indicate whether they are a good fit for sales to pursue. These traits are known as firmographics, such as company size, annual revenue, number of offices, etc. Think demographics as people and firmographics as companies. Down the road you can get even fancier with intent data from third party software (aka, know if they are actively in the market for your services).

Marketing’s job will be to attract those accounts and then alert sales to when they have either engaged with the website or marketing content or have actually converted on the site. Sales’ job is then to provide a more personalized nurturing communication to ultimately close the business. Sales should have an arsenal of tools to use in that dialog, so having marketing collaborate to define that process will be the key to success.

Here’s another example for ya: You receive a notification that a contact has downloaded one of your awesome pieces of gated content featured on your site. The contact happens to work for a massive financial services conglomerate that you have flagged as a key account (hopefully in your CRM, you have one of those right!?) that matches your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile, again, firmographics). This will then trigger an automated email sequence (from your marketing automation platform, you have one of those right?! If not, check this out) that contains content specifically geared to contacts in that organization about how your product/service will solve all their challenges. This can also initiate your sales team to reach out on a personal level. Now that your team is armed with knowing the contact’s interest (and contact info) based on the content they have consumed, sales can have more meaningful and valuable conversations with the prospect.

Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

Other than the obvious (REVENUE BABY!)… let me breakdown three major benefits.

Focused Sales Efforts – No longer will sales have to spin their wheels with conversations going nowhere or with no payoff. Give sales the focus and direction they need to only be having fruitful conversations with high-value accounts.
Sales and Marketing Collaboration – ABM will force these two to be best pals. Marketing will need sales to help inform who those high-value accounts are and sales will need marketing to come up with compelling materials that are specific to those accounts’ needs. When these two teams are working together on a shared goal, magic can happen (like peanut butter and jelly).
Building Your Ideal Portfolio – If you can continue to sell to your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) in mind, then you’ll continue to close accounts that match your ICPs. This means you’ll have more of the clients you want, and less of the clients that have to take. In my experience, this usually results in happy employees! Teams working on fulfilling projects resulting in fulfilling revenue.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the questions from earlier in the post, then ABM is the right next step for you. Implementing can take all different shapes and forms, but it’s all about knowing your audience. By creating a customized experience that is geared towards your high-value accounts, you can see an increase in quality of leads and the revenue that goes along with it.

Dan Seitz is the Director of Strategy at Hawthorn Creative and has helped execute marketing strategies for clients from all over the hospitality industry. He believes it was Professor Plum in the ballroom with the candlestick.

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