Daniel Englebretson is the Founder of Khronos, an agency which partners with clients to install a flexible framework for account-based strategy, delivering award-winning results with a focus on efficient, repeatable, and nimble execution.
He is also a Terminus Rock Star customer.
Terminus Products Used:
What’s the difference between lead gen and ABM?
There are so many ways to answer that. I always go to the analogy of the trade show. If you’ve been a marketer for more than a year, you have experienced a trade show or a virtual event. If you think about that event, using the lens of traditional demand generation, everybody in the trade show hall is in your market. Everybody who comes by your booth is a target. Everybody who gets scanned is somebody you want to talk to. And some of those leads become legitimate opportunities. So, you spend a year planning and a third of your budget on the event. You get thousands of people there. You get a hundred scans. And you get five leads. That’s traditional demand generation.
It’s very different from ABM. With ABM, you already know the five leads. So, let’s spend that time and money targeting those five people.
I think the biggest difference goes back to that famous quote from John Wanamaker “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That’s a huge point with ABM. It ensures you’re not wasting money on things that don’t move the needle and focused on what will make an impact.
Fundamentals don’t change
The fundamentals of a good ABM program are not unlike the fundamentals of good marketing, and one of the least forgiving aspects of ABM is that there is nowhere to hide. If you have poor demand generation, it might take a while for that to come to light. Maybe you’re tracking form fills, site visits, or impressions. Those numbers can look good for a while. But with a long sales cycle, it could take years to figure out that your inbound strategy is garbage because you’re getting the wrong kinds of prospects.
People often want to rush to success. They are driven. Maybe they have a startup mentality or are trying to hit performance metrics. That will drive them to take shortcuts like sending a piece of content without thinking about who they’re targeting, or focusing on the 500 trade show leads that just came in, regardless of who they are. It sounds like it’s a good idea initially, but is it really a good idea ultimately? The answer in short is ‘No’.
You should be targeting your ideal customer profile.
You should be speaking to your personas.
You should be doing so in a language they understand.
And, you should be speaking to them when and where they are. These are the fundamentals, and they don’t change. The difference is in how you go about doing it, how you allocate resources, and what channels you’re using.
ABM is a war of attrition
I think of ABM as a war of attrition.
You’ve got different points of attrition in the process:
- How many accounts are you trying to target?
- How many can you reach?
- How many did you reach?
- How many responded to your message?
- How many entered a sales sequence?
- How many became an opportunity?
If you know all the accounts you want to win, and you know all the people who you want to convert, you start there, and it really is a war of attrition.
So, the metrics you track help you track progress and find the problems that you didn’t know you had. If you think of it like points of attrition in the funnel, you can find where you have a data problem, a targeting problem, a messaging problem, or a BDR problem.
You can also use the data to reverse engineer the process to see how many accounts you need to target to hit your revenue goals. It’s often referred to as a reverse waterfall.
One of the most avoidable mistakes is bad data
As an agency owner, I see 25+ different ABM programs at the same time. One might be for an enterprise. One might be for a startup. One might be in life sciences. One might be in software. When you look at ABM across the lens of 25, it is surprising how much damage bad data can do to a program.
Let’s say you’re targeting a thousand accounts. If 10% of them have bad account information, and 10% of them have bad contacts, and 10% of those contacts are the wrong personna, 30% of your list is useless before you even start. I think people glaze over data problems because it’s only 5% here and 5% there, but it adds up. And it adds up six months later. You don’t see it until you’re there. So, one of the best things you can do is put energy into your data. It should be a third of the focus of your program. And your data must be good. So, don’t skimp on this critical piece of the process.
The importance of internal alignment
Another critical part of the process is alignment within Marketing and with Sales. Lack of alignment drives a lot of problems. Full alignment drives a lot of success. If you’re not aligned, it might be subtle within your own Marketing Team, but it’s obvious and painful with Sales.
If you’re not aligned with your Brand, PR, Content, or Product teams, you can have Brand hosting one event over here and Content executing an unrelated editorial calendar over there. If you were working together, thinking holistically about initiatives, you could leverage the ABM framework and the infrastructure you’ve built around ABM to do better marketing.
If you’re not aligned with Sales, you could be targeting the wrong accounts, the wrong personas, and in a language that doesn’t resonate. Consider Sales your ‘in the trenches’ expert. Further, when properly aligned, Sales can surface marketing ideas you hadn’t considered.
Bottom line, ABM is the lever to drive efficiency in what you’re doing. If you’re not applying the ABM lens to the rest of your marketing, you’re missing out on the opportunity to save yourself a lot of time, energy, and money.
Don’t be afraid to get started with ABM
I’ve often seen people paralyzed by the need to get ABM perfect … the perfect list, the perfect tactic, the perfect play, the perfect content. That can take months to do. So, one of the biggest pieces of advice I would give is don’t be afraid to get started. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of getting started. Remember, the fundamentals don’t change. So, start with identifying your ideal customer profile and work your way down the process.
The more ABM I do, the more I see that there is usually a champion or multiple champions like you who want to initiate or advance ABM. They have usually spent a lot of time learning about ABM and how to do it. I also find that the rest of the organization typically doesn’t understand ABM. If you find yourself in this situation, there’s a ton of value in simplifying how you talk about ABM and how you share that internally. Sort out how to communicate ABM in as simple of terms as possible when describing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to keep people engaged. The power of being clear and succinct with what you’re trying to do is really valuable.
Use the data from Terminus to guide your ABM program
If you’ve never used technology like Terminus before, it can be hard to know what you’re getting into, what you’re going to see, and how it’s different.
From my experience, data you receive from the Terminus platform can speed the evolution of your ABM program and help you iterate quickly.
Terminus’ Data Studio helps you identify custom audience segments, leverage firmographic data on 70 million businesses, and create precise and relevant audiences from first- and third-party data sources. Terminus’ Intent Data shows Sales and Marketing teams exactly who their next best opportunities are – and how likely they are to become a new customer – by combining first- and third-party intent data allows teams to see exactly where they should be focusing their efforts. Finally, Terminus’ Measurement Studio lets you measure your ABM program to show how your team is impacting pipeline and revenue, from board-level dashboards all the way down to campaign-specific reporting.
You just can’t get that kind of data from other technology. Terminus is the best addition to your MarTech that you can make, and I’ve spent over $10 million on MarTech in my career. I launched an ABM agency two years ago, and all I do is Terminus ABM today.
My first, second, and third exposure to Terminus
I’ve been around Terminus for a while now. Technically, I’m a third time customer.
Working with Terminus fundamentally changed how I viewed demand gen programs. I’ve been in demand generation my whole career, and I remember in 2016 or so when the term ‘ABM’ hit mainstream, and technology providers were trying to define their ABM play. Most were focused on the challenges that traditional demand gen is trying to solve, like How do I get better leads? How do I make the sales team happier?
So, when I first bumped into Terminus, it was a light bulb moment for me. I saw the technology and met the people who were building it. It was really cool. And it was different. It focused on what ABM is truly about: focusing on ideal customer profile accounts. So, I bought Terminus. Then I did it again, and again.
The biggest thing I learned from Terminus, aside from the technology, is the value of collaboration when you’re innovating, and I’ve found the Terminus team to be very collaborative. Much of my professional success has been built on collaborating with the team at Terminus.
That’s my experience starting an ABM program from the ground up. It’s one of those things that seems really easy until you do it, and then it’s not so easy. With Terminus, you collaborate with a technology partner to drive success and innovation. And, just like ABM, working with the Terminus platform is an iterative thing. You learn. You apply. You learn. You apply.I am Daniel Englebretson, and I am a Terminus Rock Star.