Metrics and Insights Behind the ABM Revolution: Long Awaited Q&A

Last week, the ABM Leadership Alliance hosted a webinar on TOPO’s latest research, which shared critical data points from real account-based marketers (if you missed the webinar, you can watch it on-demand here). The content was so riveting that we weren’t able to get to the Q&A portion of the webinar. But since the questions we received were so interesting, we decided to devote a blog post to their answers. You can read them below:

Did your research show better ABM Performance for Expansion business within existing accounts versus New Logo hunting?

The research did not in particular show if ABM performed better with customers vs prospects. That being said, a core tenant of ABM is to deliver relevant messages at the right time to your audience. And when you think about it, do you know your prospects or your existing customers better? With prospects, you’re often times guessing at where they are in the buyers’ journey, you make an educated guess about what they are interested in, but you often times haven’t been in contact with them, so how do you REALLY know what they need? But with your customers, you KNOW a lot more about them. You know what products they already have, you know when they have renewal cycles coming up, and you often know what the next product is that they should buy from you. So now, your messaging can be hyper targeted at relevant and at precisely the right time! So while we don’t have research to prove it, and while ABM is definitely effective for both audiences, I would think that your ABM programs for customers would generally out-perform those to your prospect base.

I’m curious on the “air cover” you talk about from Marketing.

Air cover in an ABM world takes on a new meaning. We are trying to make sure that the Target Account List knows who we are, as opposed to the whole known universe of companies that could possibly buy from you. The aircover is to make sure your target account list is fully aware of your company before your sales team reaches out, and then to match your sales teams’ message throughout the buyer’s journey, to reinforce their messages and make their job easier.

What are we talking about for start-up companies to implement an ABM “managed” solution?

While I think that ABM is an effective strategy for companies of ALL sizes (multi-national, multiple BU’s, midmarket, etc), start-ups generally have fewer resources (people, budget, etc), and so an ABM strategy makes a lot of sense. Instead of the traditional approach of leveraging your budget to cast the widest net possible for the greatest amount of awareness, understanding your top targets and focusing your limited resources on just those will have a greater impact on revenue. How many accounts? Well, that will depend on factors such as sales velocity, average deal size and the number of account executives the company has. Sales leadership will have a sense of how many target accounts each rep can focus on in a given year. So take the time to work with Sales, build that target account list, and partner on programs to bring them into the fold for your reps. Other functions such as PR and Social can help provide some of that general awareness, but core opportunity generating marketing functions – demand gen, field marketing, etc – should focus on the target account list, and take on programs that can reach those accounts.

 Is there a buyer journey concept in how you think about your ABM plans?  If it takes time, you need to plan out multiple messages, right?  You aren’t pinging the same customer over a year with the same use case from the North Dakota office…

Accounts move through the buyer journey, not individuals. This is where segmentation and content strategy link up. Based on buying signals, or engagement, you will know what sort of message, an account is ready for. Here are a few examples:

  • Are they completely cold, but an account you want to sell to? Give them a thought leadership piece that is of value to them to get their attention.
  • Have they downloaded a few pieces of collateral, maybe attended a webinar, but you can’t get a meeting for sales? Try a direct mail piece.
  • Are they talking to Sales but haven’t gone into pipeline yet? Try a field marketing program where they can connect with current customers.
  • Are they engaged in a sales cycle, and are at the proposal stage? Make sure Marketing’s message is focused on ROI.

Check out the webinar slide deck and on-demand recording and get the facts around Account-Based Marketing for yourself.