How well do you understand your prospective customers? These days, it’s not enough to brush up on top-level insights online or buy a list.
Whether you’re trying to engage a contact at a target account for the first time, progress an opportunity deeper in your sales cycle, or upsell a current customer, account intelligence is critical to your team’s success in converting the account. The more in-depth, accurate, accessible, and actionable your account-based targeting is, the better your success will be.
Here are three steps to transform your basic target account list into an opportunity-creating, sales-cycle-accelerating, revenue-generating machine!
Why You Should Care About Account Intelligence
When marketing campaigns are built with limited intelligence about the target account (i.e.without a complete understanding of who they are and what they really want and need) you typically fail to strike the target.
Let’s paint a quick scenario. Let’s say you go to a nutritionist for assistance with meal planning, and rather than looking at your chart to gather insights on how to best tailor care care specifically to your dietary needs, she hands you an in-depth monthly plan with — you guessed it – multiple foods you’re highly allergic to. On the one hand, props to her for making a detailed effort. But on the other, it was useless because she ignored your specific needs. Not exactly conducive to a positive experience. You’re clearly not going to implement the food plan or trust her with your health in the future.
Nobody likes to feel misunderstood. But this is how it feels when the company trying to sell you a solution really doesn’t know you very well. And while being unprepared on the prospecting front won’t cause a potential customer physical harm like a nut allergy might, it can sure increase your odds of killing a deal.
In B2B there’s no one-size-fits-all plan for account-based targeting, so it’s critical to spend the time necessary to understand how your future and current customers function. In other words, you need to develop an in-depth view of your accounts.
1. Gather Account Intelligence
The formula for account-based marketing success hinges on a four-prong model of Fit, knowing your target accounts; Intent, knowing which of your target accounts are actively researching or buying your product/solution so you can prioritize these accounts; Relationship, knowing which accounts have the deepest relationship with your company, and Engagement, creating engagement with the right people in the right accounts.
You probably have already created your ideal customer profile (ICP) and built a target account list based on fit. If not, you can learn more about how to do that here. Building your ICP and selecting accounts that match that ICP based on firmographics such as industry and company size are the basics of an account-based strategy. While having this may give you an edge over many of your competitors, some of your competition is probably using more advanced fit data – so you should, too, if you want to gain the upper hand.
Incorporating advanced data attributes into your account-based targeting, including characteristics such as technology used, recent founding, and conferences attended by employees, enable you to get way more targeted with your marketing and sales campaigns.
How would you discover if your accounts are interested in what your company is selling? It starts with monitoring for signals that your accounts are searching for services or products similar to yours, or are looking for information on third-party websites about the issues they’re having that your solution could potentially solve.
Here’s an example: imagine you sell a SaaS product for physical therapists. Based on your ICP and the research history of your current customers, you know your prospective customers are likely searching for content about cloud-based electronic medical records, streamlining documentation, and billing and outcomes tracking among other concerns a clinic director might face. Intent data can arm your team with this key information to help inform decisions and next steps.
More specifically, intent data shows you what companies are researching on third-party sites, not your sites. Intent signals help your sales team determine what an account is interested in before they come to your website, giving them the visibility they need to tailor their strategies and further personalize their outreach.
By analyzing the email and calendar patterns of all your employees, relationship insights identify and quantifies the entire universe of relationships that your employees have. Relationship data gives marketers true insight into the quality of relationships and engagement within target accounts, locations, or customizable segments.
While intent is all about identifying interest and catching it early to help inform your sales and marketing teams’ strategies, engagement insights demonstrate the ways in which accounts are currently interacting with your brand, online and off.
With engagement insights, you’ll know which accounts are engaging the most with your website, events, emails, and content — all signaling a high level of interest. This data adds to the 360-view of the account by revealing exactly what the account is interested in and when, providing tremendous value to your marketing and sales team so they may take steps to tailor their messaging and improve the customer experience going forward.
2. Build a Centralized Account Intelligence Center
Gathering all this data is the easy part. For the most part you’re just going to purchase data sources like Bombora, G2Crowd, Sigstr, and Datafox. Of course, the most advanced teams will take the time to uncover hidden treasures everyone else isn’t using, but even then intelligence-gathering isn’t the hardest part. The hardest part is making the account intelligence actionable, which we will get into next, but in order to do so you have to build out your account intelligence database. A single place to view fit, intent, relationship, and engagement data to form a complete picture of the account.
Most of us have access to a lot of the data we’ve been discussing, but it lives in silos that prevent us from taking action on it. Even most advanced account-based marketing teams are still downloading spreadsheets from their CRM, marketing automation tool, and intent sources. They then have to consolidate, clean, and upload all that data back to another tool in order to use it. This can take days to weeks to do and by the time everything has been sorted out, your competition has already engaged the account.
Whether you build something yourself or use an account-based marketing platform, you success is dependent on how quickly you can ingest these different account signals and consolidate them into a single view.
3. Weaponize Your Account Intelligence
One of the challenges we hear most is, “what do I do with all this data” and “I don’t know what to do with the intent signals.” It’s easy to get the data, it’s harder to get it all into a single view that makes sense, and it’s even harder to make the data actionable.
What you need are rules of engagement: dynamic triggers that move accounts in and out of campaigns based on the fit, intent, relationship, and engagement signals they’reshowing.
Take the example of the SaaS product for physical therapists. Imagine that they have a scoring system based on traditional firmographics and advanced fit data. When an account that has a high fit score shows intent signals for cloud-based electronic medical records, they are automatically moved into a specific program that:
- Places them into an email drip about electronic medical record management
- Launches display and paid-social ads
- Alerts sales to start outreach
When the account starts engaging with your site and content, the process:
- Alerts marketing to build a one-to-one microsite
- Triggers a direct mail piece from sales
Summary: Account-Based Targeting
Whether you know it or not, you are in an account intelligence arms race. Tomorrow’s winning B2B companies will be the ones that are able to ingest new account data sources and take action on that intelligence quickly.
Today many companies’ futures look bleak, but you can change that future. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to gather more account intelligence, build a central view for monitoring new account signals, and define the rules of engagement.