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How to Convince Your CEO to Try ABM

You’ve seen ABM work wonders for other agencies. You’re completely convinced that your organization should give it a go.

The only thing? Your CEO (or CMO, CRO, etc.) isn’t convinced.

How do you respectfully communicate to the C-suite that ABM is the answer?

Live from INBOUND 2019, Sangram outlines the methods B2B sellers and marketers can use to convince upper management to take a chance on ABM.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Finding the right ABM accounts
  • Aligning sales and marketing
  • Running an experimental ABM program
  • ABM metrics

This post is based on a live recording and podcast with Sangram Vajre. You can listen to the full episode here and below.

1. Figure out the accounts you’d target

The first step in convincing your CEO to switch to an account-based strategy is to find the right accounts to target.

To do this, you’ll need to create an ideal account profile (ICP). Important: An ICP is not the same as a buyer persona!

Don’t have the data to develop an ICP? You’ll have to do a little research on account profiles that are similar to the one you have in mind. Check out their competitors to uncover some potential pain points.

The more specific your ICP is, the easier it will be to qualify or disqualify leads, resulting in higher-quality target accounts. 

Moreover, you can communicate to the C-suite that other benefits of a highly specific ICP include:

  • More consistent sales
  • Increased account lifetime
  • Happier customers
  • More referrals

For the purpose of convincing your CEO that ABM is the right move, Sangram suggests focusing on five to 10 accounts. Depending on the size of your agency, that number could increase slightly (20-30), or substantially (150-200).

2. Get marketing (or sales) on board

Whether you’re in marketing or sales, you should look to getting the other side on board.

The alignment of sales and marketing for ABM is crucial. Educating your team on the ABM mentality can be very beneficial if your organization ends up shifting in that direction.

Plus, another team member might have insights into convincing the C-suite that ABM is right for your company. Two heads are better than one!

3. Set preliminary KPIs

Even though this is only a trial run, it’s important to set at least preliminary KPIs. Show your CEO where potential measurements of success could be and how you plan to reach them.

Setting KPIs before launching your ABM program is vital, especially to convince the C-suite of its effectiveness. Furthermore, these KPIs should be different from the ones you use for your current approach. Measuring MQLs, CTR, or total website traffic won’t be of much use when you’re targeting limited accounts.

KPIs for your ABM program could include:

  • Number of complete contacts within the target organization
  • Website traffic from target IP addresses
  • Heat map metrics on most-clicked pages or downloads
  • Percent of target accounts that engage with your organization
  • Percent of target accounts that take the desired action
  • Number of meetings with target accounts

*Bonus Tip*

With higher-quality target accounts and more specific KPIs, the number of sales/marketing tools your agency will require will likely diminish.

4. Run an experiment

Once you’ve built a list of target accounts and established preliminary KPIs, it’s time to experiment (this is where a sales/marketing counterpart can come in handy).

While the tactics you use to communicate with target accounts should differ for each, take a look over these ideas:

  1. Create a case study specific to the target account’s industry
  2. Link to target accounts within blog posts
  3. Personalize email sequences to target accounts with useful content
  4. Create website content specific to target account industries
  5. Tag target accounts in social posts promoting news/blog posts they’re linked in
  6. Send gifts to target accounts such as gift cards or branded desk accessories
  7. Schedule meetings with target accounts at industry conferences
  8. Host an event for local prospects

5. Communicate the results

With diligent ICP research and thoughtful KPIs, the results of your ABM experiment should speak volumes.

Even so, when you’re ready to share the results with your CEO, CMO, CRO, or any other executive, make sure to deliver the numbers they’ll really care about. Shape your pitch around each executive’s main concerns (oftentimes, the bottom line). 

Additionally, mitigate any risks that may be involved with your organization transitioning to an account-based strategy. Fortunately, by conducting ample research and a well thought out experiment, much of the risk will already be rightfully mitigated.

Transitioning to ABM

Although it may seem like a lot of work to convince your CEO of the power of ABM, in the end it will be worth the effort.

Change can be hard. Make the shift to ABM as easy as possible for your C-suite.