The choice to pursue an account-based marketing strategy is a great first step.
But, there are other choices to make before ABM can revitalize your sales and marketing processes.
Choices like: How are you going to implement the strategy? Where will you focus first? What is the end goal?
Raianne Reiss, Head of Strategic Account-Based Marketing at Amazon Web Services, and Joe Quinn, Section Manager of Account-Based Marketing for America’s National Instruments, shared their stories at a recent #FlipMyFunnel event.
Here are a few of the insights they shared about their companies’ ABM journeys.
The first thing Joe’s team did when diving into ABM was to go back through their current account tactics, and document the ones with a proven track record.
The goal wasn’t to innovate right out of the gate. Instead, they took 17 proven tactics for their ABM toolbox that they already knew had an impact on existing accounts.
From there, they funneled them into 3 buckets, asking themselves 3 questions:
- How do we introduce our sales account owners to new buying centers or new managers who are not in our database?
- How do we ensure that the customers who are using our products are supported?
- How do we defend against our competition?
For Raianne’s team, the decision to move towards an ABM strategy came as her industry began undergoing a rather dramatic transformation.
They realized their customers would require a different level of support than previously, and they needed to figure out how to help these customers. That, in turn, affected how the company’s product should be marketed.
They began by evaluating which accounts and individuals mattered most, and then chose one account that was furthest along on its buyer’s journey. At that point, they hired someone with the right skillset to determine the best ABM strategy for that particular account as a starting point.
ABM was the strategy we chose to make sure we were doing the right things to keep Juniper relevant and help customers. – Raianne Reiss
Two years into the pilot ABM program, Joe’s team looked at what was happening in the industry and assessed current industry leaders. They even became certified in ABM by SiriusDecisions because they wanted that credibility backing them up when they started working more heavily with Sales.
When looking into sales’ account plans, they found that half of the necessary plans weren’t in place, yet. This gave them a starting place for what to work on, which included helping build the missing account plans with the account owners.
First, they looked at the account plans that were already available and conducted an account research project to map out the accounts. They found out what people in target accounts were working on, who they were speaking to, and other details to gain a full picture of the accounts.
Then, Joe’s team consulted with the sales team and told them the things they had discovered about these accounts, and told sales which accounts to pursue. They also found ways to ensure that the account manager would have an easy time explaining what National Instruments does and what they could do for that account in particular.
To do that, they combed through their systems to look at what they had sold to other companies worldwide, what the challenge was for those companies, and what the impact of that sale was for the buyer.
All the aggregated information was used to create marketing materials that the account managers could use in their meetings with target accounts.
For Raianne’s team, the experiment with the first account was so successful that they added some additional accounts the following year, which grew to other accounts in the same vertical globally. That later scaled to other verticals as they began leveraging available technology and tools better.
Their strategy was to look not just at an account as a whole, but also at the individual people involved with the account. For the biggest accounts, there might be 50 people making decisions, so Raianne’s team needed to determine how to reach those specific people.
That involved a lot of sales and marketing alignment (and realignment) to make sure everyone was delivering the same message.
Both Raianne and Joe agreed that figuring out how to measure their success was the most challenging part of implementing their ABM strategies.
When we launched our program, the very first thing we did was that we recognized that if the company was going to invest in ABM, the sales managers wanted to see what the impact was going to be on revenue. – Joe Quinn
Joe’s team came up with readiness measures, activity measures, output metrics, and ways to measure the actual impact of the work they were putting into the ABM strategy.
For Raianne’s team, they quickly discovered that metrics like how many names or contacts they could add to a database for the account or how many people attended a conference were not useful in the ABM world because the goal was no longer about pipeline creation.
Instead, they determined that what mattered was how both Sales and Marketing were developing relationships with the accounts. So, they created a metric system based on what they call MindShare scoring.
Raianne’s Marketing team works with Sales to identify who in the account matters most, and they try to figure out if those individuals will, in a sense, vote for them. The marketers focused on increasing the MindShare scores over time, which involved converting the company’s detractors to supporters.
Every ABM Journey is a little bit different. Each company has specific needs and goals, and of course, there’s always going to be trial and error when implementing a new marketing or sales strategy.
Hopefully, these two stories from Raianne and Joe have given you some ideas on how to make your own ABM journey.