Sales has been targeting contacts at key accounts for decades. On the marketing side, account-based marketing (ABM) has gained major traction, becoming a key strategy to better align with sales and close quality deals. At its core, ABM is focused on personally connecting with your buyers. Having a deeper understanding of your buyers’ goals and objectives and how your product or service can make a difference could help you win more business for your organization.
Whether you’ve accelerated to ABM veteran status or are considering an ABM strategy, these are five questions every account-based marketing pro has the answer to.
1) Who would you love to have as a client?
Envision the ideal company profile and use that to create a “dream 100” list—companies that would be an ideal fit for what you sell. It’s easy to name big industry players or the hottest new companies that would look good in your portfolio, but if they aren’t a good fit for what you sell, it is detrimental in the long run.
It’s best to start with the pains you solve. Define those, and then move on to identify the verticals or types of companies that experience these pains. From there, you can connect the dots to specific companies within those groups that you want to target. Be sure to clearly define “why” these pains need solving.
As part of this framework, it’s time to literally define what your ideal company profile looks like. Get granular with details like industry, region or geographic characteristics, annual or monthly revenue, technologies used, and number of employees. It might be helpful to look at your current client list to identify the key characteristics that make for an ideal company profile.
The idea is to target specific accounts and the key stakeholders within those accounts that influence the purchase decision. It’s a more proactive approach; instead of waiting for customers to come to you, you are identifying who would benefit from your product or solution and developing a strategy around that.
2) How do your customers buy?
The goal of answering this is to be able to anticipate next steps and move opportunities through the funnel in a timely manner. Know what process your target customers go through when they make a purchase decision. Be sure to identify who is involved and key factors they will likely need to consider. Take into account that goals and objectives may vary between each buyer persona involved in the decision making process.
There are three parts to understanding how customers buy:
A) Current status: Understand how buyers are getting by without your offering today. What is their status quo? They may not even be aware that the pain points or challenges they are experiencing can be solved with your offering. Educate buyers so that they are aware of options for resolution.
B) Similar scenarios: Once a problem has been identified and the buyer is aware of the problem, it’s time to understand how they are solving similar problems. What is the process for evaluating a solution like yours? Identify any documentation or security requirements that might be necessary for them to continue considering your offering.
C) Vendor comparisons: With insight into challenges they are experiencing, buyers are ready to explore and compare solutions. Anticipate some of the more common questions around pricing, implementation resources, and ROI (return on investment) timeline. Customer service really starts in sales, so be honest and set realistic expectations.
3) What does the buyer journey look like?
Similar to building the ideal customer profile, it’s important to get granular here too. Map out the buyer journey and align it to the stages in your sales process. Define the primary actions for your sales team at each stage and include stage goal qualifiers that signal the buyer should be ready to move onto the next stage. Identify potential content that would help a deal progress. As you’ll notice in the image below, content earlier in the funnel is more educational. As the buyer moves towards evaluation and final decision, content tends to emphasize product or solution value and benefits.
It might help to keep an eye out for how buyers are interacting with your existing content on your website. Any interaction with blog posts, videos, eBooks, or product pages can be indicators of topics that are relevant to buyers. Not only can your sales team have a better understanding of where the buyer is during their journey, this insight can help your marketing team craft more insightful content to build into future account-based marketing plays.
4) Which personas are involved at each stage of the buyer journey?
An effective account-based marketing strategy is all about full funnel alignment. From marketing to sales, align content to buyers’ needs at any given time. All the personas identified in your ideal customer profile won’t necessarily be involved at each stage of the buyers’ journey. Identify who is and which stages they are involved in.
Building off the buyer journey table above, focus on the buyer stage and content rows. Plot personas accordingly and use that insight to build relevant marketing content. At the awareness and education stage, personas to consider might include users, leaders, and decision makers. Leverage the pain points of these personas to develop helpful and meaningful content.
5) How will you measure success?
Without data, you’re just shooting in the dark. Crafting an effective account-based marketing strategy takes a lot of effort. Ensure this effort doesn’t go to waste by setting up measurements for success.
There are a plethora of tools that support account-based marketing efforts, but it’s critical to align with sales so that reps can be guided through a sequence of activities. Aberdeen Group reported that companies with guided sellers have a greater total company revenue, higher average deal size, and shorter sales cycle. The power of repetition is the ability to measure and improve.
Here are three key metrics to help you get started:
Marketing activities and content
Know which events and content are driving deals forward. Leverage this insight to help drive other deals forward. If an event brings in more opportunity, consider attending that event again. For content that resonates with buyers, consider expanding on the topic to provide more detail or leverage it in a broader campaign.
Know how much time buyers are spending at each stage and identify where most deals are getting stuck. How many buyers enter each stage and how many leave that stage? How long did it take for them to leave? This insight provides marketing an opportunity to create better content to support stages that are facing more challenges.
Individual sales rep effectiveness
The challenge might not be throughout the organization: deals might not be moving forward because some of the sales reps might be struggling with certain aspects of the sales cycle. Perhaps they need more coaching to better prepare them to effectively address buyer challenges. If you want more insight on what exactly to measure when it comes to sales rep effectiveness, this blog post might help: How to Improve Sales Performance: KPIs for Better Decision-Making.
Meet the Author: Jorge Jeffery joined Velocify in 2011 and is director of research and analytics. Jorge has been instrumental in mining data from more than 1,500 sales teams that leverage Velocify’s solutions today. Insights gleaned help establish best practices for Velocify clients in order to maximize revenue potential.