Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and Chief Analyst at TOPO, recently wrote an article that outlined the differences between account-based marketing (ABM) and outbound sales — a question that came up at a recent TOPO Demand Generation Council Event. During a presentation touting the benefits of employing an ABM strategy, the following question was raised: “doesn’t that sound like outbound sales?”
Not quite, argues Craig. While outbound prospecting is an important part of account-based marketing, it’s not the full story. Just like any other successful marketing strategy, ABM requires a certain amount of alignment with your sales team to really work.
“In account-based marketing, sales and marketing work together to create an always-on series of touches and relationship-building aimed at these accounts. One meeting with an account is just the beginning – not the end – of an account-based marketing program,” said Craig in his article.
[Tweet “In #ABM, sales and marketing work together to create an always-on series of touches. — @funnelholic”]
As an account-based advertising company, Craig’s dialogue caught our eye. In fact, we’d like to supplement a few of his points with some of what we’ve learned on the front lines, working with companies to define and succeed with their ABM strategies.
- “ABM requires a truly coordinated effort between sales, sales development, marketing, and executive staff.”
This is Craig’s first element to an account-based marketing program. As we’ve seen at Terminus, successfully marketing to accounts starts with a conversation between marketing, sales, and other key stakeholders within your business. It’s not enough for marketing to set up an ABM program and hit “go” — marketers need to work with sales to identify target accounts and a strategy to reach them. Not only that, there needs to be an understanding of customer pain points in order for ABM messaging to really have an impact, and that insight is going to come from the sales reps who are having conversations with prospects on a daily basis.
Finally, account-based marketing involves an understanding of your company’s business objectives. What new markets are you trying to penetrate? Who is your target buyer? What are the optimal accounts to target? The answers to these questions trickle down all the way from the top, which is why key stakeholders and executives should be involved from the get-go.
[Tweet “Successful #ABM campaigns require alignment across the organization. — @funnelholic”]
- “ABM requires deep account profiling shared between internal account stakeholders.”
With marketing and sales working on the same team to identify target accounts, it’s important to dive even deeper to really understand the motivations, pain points, and demographics of each account. Your two teams can work together in a number of ways to uncover these key data points: through sales conversations, through behavioral and demographic data collected by a marketing automation tool and synced with a CRM, through social profile lookups…the point is, with shared insight into what makes your accounts tick, you can develop targeted messaging and serve up specific ads that will really speak to each one of your accounts.
[Tweet “It is crucial for sales and #marketing to work together to develop deep personas. — @funnelholic”]
- “Marketing runs a steady mix of campaigns into ABM accounts.”
Once the digging is done and target accounts have been identified, marketing can set up ABM programs that will deliver the right message at the right time to each account — across all of the channels that your target audience is using, from social media to mobile and video.
Craig makes an important distinction here between ABM and outbound sales: “One of the key differences between ABM and outbound sales is that marketing is signed up to deliver “always-on” campaigns to multiple stakeholders in the account.”
While outbound sales is a manual process involving picking up a phone or shooting an email to a prospect (both of which, quite frankly, involve a bit of guesswork on the part of the sales rep), account-based marketing can be automated so that your messages reach your buyers on their schedule, not yours.
[Tweet “Account-based #marketing can be automated so your messages reach your buyers on their schedule.”]
The Future of Account-based Marketing
Craig finishes his post by saying, “The analyst team at TOPO is spending more time than ever researching account-based marketing and responding to client inquiries on the subject. In the next three years, we expect ABM to become a critical sales and marketing capability at companies that target enterprise accounts.”
We’ve seen a lot of increased interest in account-based marketing ourselves, and agree that this bodes well for the ABM industry as a whole. We’re excited to see where this journey takes us!