In the past, marketing was more madness, less method.
Account-based marketing, however, is tactical. Specific. For most organizations, ABM means figuring out how to get a bigger footprint in a bigger company. But not just any bigger company — specially chosen companies that are worth pursuing due to their high value.
Another piece of the puzzle is that bigger companies have many more business units. It’s hard to get in front of all the right stakeholders.
Hence the need for a well-thought-out plan.
I recently had a conversation with Chris Reene, an enterprise account executive at Terminus, on the #FlipMyFunnel podcast. We dove into the tactics, tools, programs, and results he and his team used during his recent experience pursuing one of the biggest tech giants out there: Salesforce.
We were already successfully working with one business unit at Salesforce, but as you know, the company is enormous — 30,000 employees enormous. So, Chris and his team seized the opportunity to expand within the organization.
A Tactical Plan to Land and Expand
Every step Chris took in this process was incredibly tactical and mapped out. Here’s what he shared.
Six months ago, Chris and his team decided the time was right to expand and create a larger footprint within Salesforce. We knew that investing more time and resources into Salesforce would yield expanded results, especially if we managed to make the right connections to create business relationships and generate revenue in the long term.
Capture Attention with Direct Mail
First, Chris identified key contacts and prioritized the ones he wanted to pursue. Some of them were directors, while others were at the VP level. The goal was to engage the people who have a big role in the decision-making process — people who, at an enterprise company like Salesforce, are notoriously hard to reach.
To help cut through the noise, Chris worked alongside Terminus’ product marketing team to develop a custom piece of content for this particular outreach. It was brief but robust, telling stories of how Terminus had worked with Salesforce in the past and celebrating the results the other business units saw. It had a quick blurb about what Terminus does and a note that Chris would be reaching out in the near future.
Now, these weren’t flimsy little brochures we slipped under the cracks of office doors.
They were pleasing to the eye and printed in high quality. Then, we put them into a mailer and overnighted them to the Salesforce offices.
Both the content and the medium screamed Terminus’ willingness to go the extra mile for Salesforce.
Job well done, right?
Well, yes — but the job isn’t done yet.
Execute Multichannel Follow-Up
How you stay in touch with target accounts needs to be just as thought out as your first attempts at outreach. Keep the specifics going. Specific message, specific recipients.
Chris pulled out all the stops to connect with his target personas. He sent highly personalized emails, developed targeted SalesLoft cadences, recorded personalized video messages with Vidyard, send LinkedIn messages, and used ZoomInfo to uncover contact information and direct phone numbers.
Those were the direct efforts, all of which Chris utilized as the relationships evolved.
But marketing’s job wasn’t over, either. As Chris put it, we had “the world’s best digital advertising solution” at their fingertips. We used our own tool, Terminus, to provide air cover. We delivered targeted ads to our target personas at Salesforce, and we used messaging that complemented Chris’ one-to-one outreach.
The only channel we didn’t focus on was social media. However, that will be changing as we continue iterating on enterprise account strategies.
And that’s something important to note: diversifying your approaches and learning from previous campaigns will help you improve almost as much as dialing in on specificity.
What does this wide array of outreach methods tell a large company like Salesforce? From a purely pragmatic view, it displays the willingness of both Chris and the entire Terminus team to meet them where they are. Establishing relevant communications for prospective clients in the way they prefer to communicate is a surefire way to show you’re not just looking to get something and leave.
Expanding in enterprise accounts is often a long, drawn-out process. But you just need to keep at it.
That’s the mindset Chris and the rest of the Terminus team have adopted. It’s a shift in perspective that takes time — because on the surface, it might seem a little counterintuitive.
“Maybe we don’t necessarily get a meeting immediately,” Chris said, “but we’re driving the right types of conversations.”
It takes a while for a seed to grow naturally, and the only antidote for the tribulations of the early days of ABM is patience.
Because the reality is this: 1800 other sales guys are currently pursuing the VP of marketing cloud at Salesforce.
It would be naive to think that just because Salesforce received mail that they’re going to open it and immediately jump onboard with Terminus. The same goes if you’re trying to pursue some other large, high-value account that draws a lot of revenue and attention.
Chris’s advice is simple in concept but difficult in practice:
“We need to work on their timeframe, not as much them on ours.”
Does all of this sound familiar? It should. Account-based marketing isn’t strictly about lead or demand generation. It’s about cultivating a professional relationship with clients in the hope that your mutual dealings result in increased revenue for your organization. And relationships start from the ground and build with time.
The hope was that after our efforts to court Salesforce, direct meetings would follow. But first, we needed to create a dialogue within Salesforce, and Chris and the marketing team continuing to surround them and effectively approach them is vital to that conversation.
So far, this marketing push has generated several good opportunities out of the Salesforce organization in the last six months.
It’s a process, and you can’t expect immediate results. The right types of conversations are happening even if meetings aren’t…yet.
1. What’s your capacity?
You have to think about how you are going to pursue accounts and what the tactical day to day will look like. It made sense for Chris and his team to be coworking some of these accounts because of skill sets and abilities.
At the beginning of it all, Chris wanted to pursue 40 contacts. Then he sat down and had to figure out, “What is my actual capacity?”, You have to to be thinking strategically about which ones are the right ones, and it has to be appropriate.
2. Is it appropriate for your business?
Ask yourself some important questions.
Can we afford the time it takes to cultivate a relationship with this high-value target without drawing immediate revenue from them? What’s the opportunity cost of pursuing this prospective client over another one? How well-suited are we to address the needs of this client, both monetarily and personally?
And the list goes on. You can’t be a good steward of your prospective client’s time and resources if you can’t even address and nail down your own needs and limits.
The process that Chris and his team went through was an expensive, resource-intensive one. Most ABM campaigns follow that rule. It wouldn’t make sense to go to those lengths for a company where opportunity is scarce and prospective value (or even past value) is low.
Gear your efforts toward the strategic, high-value targets.
If you are selling into enterprise companies, don’t think about it as a once-off thing. It’s a complicated process with many facets and tiers.
ABM solutions aren’t focused on getting more of the same. It’s about creating more revenue for the organization.
That’s a goal the whole team — marketing and sales both — can get behind.
This post is based on an interview with Chris Reene from Terminus. To hear this episode and many more like it, subscribe to the #FlipMyFunnel Podcast on iTunes.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.