5 Challenges with Scaling Account-Based Marketing

You’ve got a list of target accounts. You mapped out a plan that covers every stage of the sales process. Your marketing and sales teams are working together to engage your buyers and close deals. But why does it feel so complicated?

If your account-based programs are so complex and manual that they’re difficult to scale across larger audiences, this blog post is for you. You shouldn’t need a rocket scientist to figure out how to roll out ABM across your organization.

Account-Based Marketing Shouldn’t Feel Like Rocket Science

By launching an account-based strategy, you’re one of the pioneers boldly exploring the next frontier of B2B. And as a pioneer, you’ve had to navigate uncharted territory with no roadmap and limited tools.

Unfortunately, this has led to over-engineered processes requiring time-consuming manual steps to fill the gaps left by outdated technology. Let’s look at five of the challenges you may be facing with your ABM strategy — and how you can demystify what sometimes feels like rocket science.

1. Too Many Tools with Siloed Data

As the Account Based Experience (ABX) buzz grew, so did the technology vendors wanting to jump on the bandwagon. As marketing teams try to piece together a target account program, it makes sense to turn to technology to automate as much as possible. So, marketers end up with a lot of point solutions.

Many of these tools are great and have helped B2B marketing take giant steps forward, but they’ve also added to the complexity of scaling personalized ABM campaigns. Managing steps across different tools is often a manual process that doesn’t scale well. This also complicates reporting and makes it difficult to aggregate account insights from disparate tools that don’t integrate the way you need them to.

2. Target Account Lists Take Too Long to Create and Update

When you’re doing it manually, target account lists take a long time to build. Because the important data is spread across many tools, you have to spend a lot of time downloading and consolidating spreadsheets and then uploading the spreadsheets back into a tool like Salesforce.

CRM and marketing automation tools weren’t designed to be account-centric, so they’re challenging to use for target account list building. It’s also difficult to manage and reprioritize account lists, which poses a challenge to agile marketing and sales teams who want to pivot their strategy as new information becomes available.

3. Reaching Decision-Makers Takes Personalization

These days, decision-makers are increasingly hard to reach. Tried-and-true channels aren’t performing the way they used to due to competition or audience fatigue. The silver bullet to this problem has been personalization, but personalization creates its own set of problems.

You may have seen amazing results with highly personalized campaigns, but they’re complex and time-consuming. The question is, how can you scale without sacrificing that personalized experience?

4. Sales Has Too Much Data

Sales transitioned from having little insight into their accounts to being overwhelmed by prospect data. With today’s tech and an account based sales strategy, reps can now see if their account is showing in-market intent, engaging with key content, reading third-party reviews, attending an event — the list goes on.

To cut through the noise, you have to deliver actionable insights to your sales team — not all insights at all costs. This means you have to be thoughtful about the data sales is receiving and how that data is being visualized. You also have to be mindful of the triggers and actions the data supports. What will your sales team actually do with the information you give them?

5. Can’t Measure Success

One of the biggest challenges with account-based marketing 2021 is measuring success. Legacy marketing attribution technology ties pipeline and revenue to leads, not accounts. And lead metrics don’t tell the whole story of an account’s path to purchase.

Using traditional marketing tech to measuring the success of account-based programs is challenging, even more so when you want to scale your program. And without metrics to prove the value of strategic, account-based campaigns, it’s difficult to get the support to scale in the first place.

Make Account-Based Marketing Easier

ABM doesn’t have to be rocket science. The landscape is maturing, and you no longer have to be a lone pioneer without a map or adequate tools. Empower your marketing and sales teams to scale account-based strategies with the TEAM framework: Target. Engage. Activate. Measure.

  • Target your best-fit accounts.
  • Engage the entire buying committee with multi-touch marketing programs.
  • Activate sales with actionable insights.
  • Measure success with account-based metrics.

By simplifying your processes and consolidating your tools, your team can scale your account-based programs. No NASA scientists necessary.

ABM at Scale

Have you ever spent a significant amount of time courting a specific customer? Perhaps you’re convinced that they’re a “whale” of a client. Or, maybe, you were directed by a supervisor. Maybe your customer relationship management suite scored them as an easily acquired lead, or maybe you just had a gut feeling about them.

You likely discovered that the closer the connection between you and the customer, the more likely they were to make purchases. Consider the old days when people had milk routes and interacted with their local shop owner quite frequently. Milkmen and general store owners knew everything about their clients, and were consequently able to secure their sales.

It’s effective.

But the problem is that, up until recently, it couldn’t scale.

ABM at scale means developing long-term, healthy, deep relationships with customers, regardless of how many customers you have. Understandably, this can sound impossible. How do you have enough time? How can you personalize every single account?

It’s about technology.

Technology platforms such as Terminus can be used to develop relationships through automation and digital personalization. These connections are still fostered, but because you don’t need to manage it on your own, you can scale it up.

It all starts with discussing your ABM goals and how you best want to achieve them. ABM is different for every company and industry. In the eCommerce field, touch points may be light, but persistent. In the medical field, touch points would be far more significant, though further spread out. Once you have your ABM goals in mind, you can determine which platforms are best for you, and you can reach out to partners that can help.

Scaling ABM is always going to be a challenge. But with the right tools, anyone can do it. ABM is suited to companies of all sizes and industries, but the path they take to get there can differ.

Account Based Marketing

ABM isn’t new. The earliest marketing was account based marketing. Go back in time, and door-to-door vacuum sales were common. Go further back, and villages had fishermen, who would fish all day and then distribute fish on their usual route. Sales were face-to-face. But they weren’t high in volume. A single vacuum salesperson might make two big sales a year.

Some industries still do account based marketing for most of their sales. Think about the real estate market. That’s an industry that has always done account based marketing and always will.

But today, people are starting to realize that the reason that ABM is used in high value sales is because it’s so extraordinarily effective. The more someone knows you and understands you, the more they trust you. The more a relationship is built, the more they’re likely to work with you. Over time, you build your relationships and your career.

To see ABM case studies and ABM campaign examples, you only need to look at high end industries. Financiers maintain account based relationships. Lawyers maintain account based relationships. And if someone is thinking about ABM right now, at this moment, they’re already far behind. The reason high end industries have always used ABM is because they have a high customer lifetime value. But today, ABM can be used in any industry, regardless of customer lifetime value, to secure better customers, and to secure better profits.

The best way to get started with ABM is to take a look at how other companies are implementing it, look at case studies and account based marketing customer journey examples, and then apply those to your own business and your own industry. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t click all at once. ABM is a different way to look at marketing. Even if it is an older form of marketing, it has become very different thanks to technology and thanks to changes in our own consumer culture.

Account Based Marketing Software

Software is, by far, the differentiating and enabling factor of ABM. Without account based marketing software, it’s simply impossible to maintain a reliable ABM strategy. Unless you only have a dozen clients, how are you to develop deep personal relationships with them? ABM technology provides the tools you need.

Through ABM, you can identify the leads that are most likely to become the best clients. From there, automation and analysis can be used to create touch points with these clients without you having to do anything yourself. And ABM will be able to track how effective these strategies are, whether it’s identifying the right clients for you, and so forth: In other words, it gets better all the time.

Account Based Marketing Tactics

Before someone changes their strategies, they need to develop their tactics. Account based marketing tactics are going to form the very foundation of business processes. Tactics are like plays or campaigns that a team runs to execute on their ABM strategy. This could include everything from display ads to sending gift cards and handwritten notes.

To get your ABM cadence down, you need to first think about what your goals are and how best to achieve them. From there, break down the customer relationship into “moments” during which the customers interact with the brand. From the initial onboarding to remarketing after purchases, companies should explore how they relate to their customers, and how their customers relate to them. Every interaction with the customer is ultimately a chance at bonding with the customer and making a sale.

Account based marketing tactics are essential. If a strategy describes where you want to go with your account based marketing campaign, then your tactics describe how you will get there.

In marketing, “sales cadence” is used to describe the steps that you take towards getting a prospect to commit. The musical nature of this terminology is not incidental: Much of sales is like a dance, with both the sales professional and consumer taking steps back and forth. The ABM cadence is intimate and unique; it requires that you thoroughly understand the needs of each customer, and that you be backed with technology that will empower you.

Furthermore, marketing strategies (whether ABM or not) will always be continually evolving. Markets will change. Products will change. The audience will change. A solid ABM tactic is also going to be able to evolve, through the consistent use of processes, as well as data and analysis.

Account Based Marketing Strategy

Of course, as important as tactics are, you do need a strategy first. A strategy gives you an outline and a framework, a phased approach through which you can hopefully reach your revenue goals with ABM. An account based marketing strategy has to begin with a clear understanding of your goals and challenges. From there, you can start to develop more specific tactics and tasks.

Without a strategy, teams don’t know if their tactics are actually working, or whether their ABM strategy is meeting their revenue goals. They won’t know whether they need to ramp up their spending or slow it down, because they won’t be able to calculate the direct ROI relative to their efforts.

Consider a business that wants to use its ABM process to recapture existing clientele. Customer acquisition is always more expensive than customer retention, and ABM marketing excels at working with clients to ensure that they remain happy and that they stay. Teams will need to know which metrics they are tracking, notably customer retention. Other types of marketing strategies might not put customer retention at such a forefront. As the team embarks upon its ABM strategy, the team will be able to see whether customer retention is going up, down, or remaining static. If customer retention remains static (or even gets worse), they know their strategy isn’t working.

On the other hand, consider a company that simply decides to implement ABM because they know that it’s “better.” While they may have some broad understanding that ABM builds client relationships, they won’t be able to quantify the value of their efforts. They cannot possibly know whether their company is doing better, because they haven’t figured out what “better” means. And if they aren’t following the right ABM strategies, they could actually be losing money on their ABM campaign and not realize it.

That being said, writing an ABM strategy from scratch is easier said than done. Many people are new to the discipline of ABM, and they don’t have industry experts to help them because the field is so relatively youthful. It’s important for all businesses to find a strategic partner when shifting to ABM, because ABM isn’t just a marketing or sales technique: It’s something that impacts the entirety of the company.

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