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Amit Thapliyal Author's Perspective
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Account Based Marketing: Building a case for Marketing Success

Amb Blog

“Don’t count the people you reach...Reach the people who count" -David Ogilvy

Customers are a complex bunch & B2B customers even more so.

With time, proliferation of discovery & buying channels, and choice of products & availability of vendors in the market - buying decisions are becoming more complex. Add to that the changing landscapes of organization structures, roles of internal stakeholders in the buying process & you have the perfect script for your sales & marketing teams’ nightmare.

According to Gartner, on an average over 6.8 stakeholders are now involved in a B2B purchase cycle.

With traditional marketing programs structured in a linear fashion & campaigns limited by budgets & resources, often aim at 2-3 levels across the target segment hierarchy. In a sales guy’s pipeline, each of us are leads, and we all are not the same. So, how can all leads be treated the same?

The gap here is that in most sales funnels when leads progress in what we assume is a linear path, they either convert into a purchase or drop out of the funnel. A lead converting into a purchase via a defined path in a short time, directly is usually a “user’”, a scenario better attributed to B2C/I purchasing cycles.

However, is the purchase journey linear?

In B2B purchase cycles, leads represent ‘Organizations’ which are Accounts, wherein each account there are multiple decision makers. Most organizations’ sales processes define their pipeline/funnels & these funnels are not attuned to marketing to various decision makers, influencers & stakeholders, who play a role in the purchase cycle.

It’s no wonder that 86% of marketing and sales professionals from B2B companies have begun using targeted account strategies. (Source: LeanData)

Even though ABM has been a familiar concept, decision makers are yet to decode how exactly it can influence their GTMs. While, B2B marketers have been identifying customer segments & targeting - posting focused market messaging for long. MarTech has evolved- which brings opportunities for them to leverage ABM at scale.

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Why ABM:

Success of marketing teams is measured not on number of campaigns run or engagements created - but on marketing ROI & bottom line contribution.

#1 challenge for B2B Marketers is generating high quality leads (Forrester)

Demand generation was & continues to be one of the measures of performance. B2B marketers continue to introduce the prospects into the funnel & create opportunities for sale by creating more opportunities to engage across the target account hierarchy, nurturing, educating & incorporating trust in your buyers’ mind.

ABM however is NOT demand gen on steroids! It’s also not a ‘focused demand generation program’ rather a holistic, paradigm shift which will need work- on the way they look at their clients, how they know them, how they’re able to zoom into their problems & communicate their value proposition. More importantly, it involves the need to make a cultural change, in particular within the Sales & Marketing teams.

Gartner’s Adam Sarner defines ABM as "an approach to traditional B2B lead management and B2B relationship management that uses predictive lead scoring, personalized content, and programmatic advertising techniques to target and engage identified accounts and individuals across all stages of the buying process.”

Think of it as an inverted marketing funnel - you feed a highly targeted set of qualified prospects at the top of the funnel- nurture them through the sales process with personalized content - create multiple high-touch engagement touchpoint, address need- specific use cases, pre-empt buyer side objections.

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Building and Implementing a Revenue Engine Model!

Nearly 85% of marketers that measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments — and 50% of those say the difference is significant.(ITSMA)

Here are the top 3 reasons to adopt an ABM strategy:

1. Optimum use of Marketing Resources, Faster ROI

All marketing efforts should be measurable. Yet, marketing teams are more often than not busy planning campaigns without a defined ROI strategy. ABM allows you to “do more with less”. Your target accounts are clearly identified, your spends are concentrated on the profitable segments , your campaigns orchestrate messaging across specific use cases & your leads are properly attributed & scored for engagement.

Another bonus - ABM utilizes your CRM & Marketing automation tools to their true potential & helps in programmatic improvements in your customer engagement, content & sales-marketing processes.

2. Brings together your Sales & Marketing teams

An age old perspective, the entire organization works together for the success of the sales team. Marketing & sales are joined at the hips, yet are a world apart- often working in silos. ABM mandates collaboration between the two, establishing common goals, creating effective communication, jointly developed market messaging & sync mechanisms between the two.

A DemandBase survey reports over 34% ABM practitioners claiming a tightly coupled duo, while the rest reporting making progress towards it.

3. Better relationships through Contextual, Personalized communications

Prospects are bombarded with marketing messages, many times a day, many times over- by many vendors exactly like you. Today, relevancy is the new currency. To get their attention you need to tell them ‘why you’ & ‘why right now’. ABM enables:

- Segmenting your prospects via Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs- prospects who are most likely to buy your products, have the best need-value fit & have the budgets to afford them)

- Targeting them with relevant content & campaigns. Engage them via nurture programs creating new engagement opportunities

- Positioning your product value once the differentiation with the competition is already established & exactly when they need to buy.

To sum it up, ABM helps your bring your A game, to the best-fit customers, giving them the best possible experience, with an improved sales-marketing sync- for More Revenue

Next in this series: How to ABM (Blog), Mapping your customer journey & ABM success (Blog), Why ABM Fails -Pitfalls & Challenges (Blog)Leveraging your Martech Stack for Growth, ABM Success Webinar series with my colleague Michael Thompson.

Amit Thapliyal VP - Marketing, Altudo


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