Account-Based Marketing (ABM) essentially flips the inbound methodology on its head by focusing on fit first, then interest.
The inbound methodology uses content and trust-building to let customers initiate contact and put themselves in your sales funnel, and then you nurture them from there. But, ABM uses your ideal customer profile to find companies that you know would be a good fit for your business and then uses different methods to target them specifically and bring them to your website.
ABM is done intentionally, and although a lot of the same inbound practices apply, the biggest difference is that you are choosing the companies that you want to go after from the start.
Your sales team is responsible for learning everything they can about those given companies so that when they convert on your site they are served a tailored and custom experience to increase their chances of becoming an opportunity or sale.
Luckily for your marketing and sales teams, there are a lot of tools out there to make the process of ABM much easier and more effective.
Step 1: Identify
The first step in any ABM strategy is to identify the accounts that you will be targeting. This will require you to have your ideal customer profile (ICP) developed so you can ensure you target the right accounts. You’ll also need to know your buyer personas so you can reach out to the right people at those companies.
The best place to start when identifying target accounts is actually your existing database.
“A lot of people don’t think about this, but chances are you actually already have quite a few companies in your existing CRM that fit your ICP and will be a great target account,” says Guido Bartolacci, Head of Demand Generation at New Breed.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it’s a platform or software that stores information on potential and current customers. Two of the most common CRM systems we see at New Breed are Salesforce and HubSpot.
Regardless of what CRM system you are currently using, you should be able to see if you have any accounts in there that you can start ABM with before doing any additional outreach.
“If you don’t have a property set up for your ideal customer profile, you can set up a list in your CRM that pulls the right company size or firmographic information that dictates those target accounts,” says Guido.
Finding new target accounts
Once you’ve started going after all the target accounts you uncovered within your existing database, you should start identifying new companies and contacts. You can do this two different ways: Your reps can seek out these accounts manually on Google or LinkedIn, or you can use a data enrichment tool like Everstring, ZoomInfo or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to do the work for you.
These types of tools will use the criteria you dictate to pull companies who fit that criteria for your sales team to evaluate and possibly begin outreach on. Using a data sourcing platform can be one of the smartest investments for your company with an ABM strategy. It will take a lot of the guesswork out of the picture for your sales team and let them prioritize their time and their efforts on the right accounts and leads.
Once you have identified companies to go after, you will need to start mapping out what these companies look like and the roles and personas at each company that you may come in contact with.
An account map is a resource you can put together, similar to an organizational chart, that is used by your reps to identify the key buying roles who make the decisions at one of your target accounts.
It doesn’t actually have to be charted or designed, it can be more of a list. But, the idea is to have a clear picture of the different roles at the company and how they may come into play during your outreach and sales cycle.
“I would not recommend a company invest in software for account mapping,” says Guido. “Truthfully you can use a free tool like Google Sheets or Google Drawings to manage this step.”
Some CRMs and automation platforms will let you integrate this process directly in your CRM, but that isn’t a necessity.
Step 2: Attract
Once you know the accounts you are targeting, you need to find ways to attract them to your site. You should give them much more specific and customized outreach than you give to any other lead in your database.
If you already have the contact information for those individuals, the easiest place to start with that customized outreach is an email. You can use a marketing automation platform to do draft, schedule and send your emails.
For the prospects at target accounts that you don’t have contact information for yet, getting them to convert on your website will be the best way to capture their email. You can drive them to your site with advertisements that promote valuable content offers and information. There are many tools that you can use to run paid advertising. LinkedIn Paid Ads are a great option that use job titles and companies on LinkedIn profiles to identify and target individuals. Other platforms that will help you run ads for target accounts are Madison Logic, Terminus and Demandbase.
“Keep in mind that a lot of these platforms are just tools to help you use LinkedIn for targeting ads,” says Guido. “If you are willing to learn the platforms yourself, you can just use them without the help of those outside platforms.”
Step 3: Engage
The main idea of the engage step of the ABM process is to ensure the contacts from your target accounts list are having a great experience with your brand and your sales team. This means that they are receiving a customized experience every time they engage with you. Just like in the other stages of ABM, your marketing automation platform and CRM are going to be crucial to the management of your contacts and their outreach. Your sales team will use your CRM to send emails and manage their prospects as they move through your sales funnel.
At New Breed, we use HubSpot to do all of our sales outreach and email marketing. It lets us serve up customized emails using personalization tokens and other features that make it easy for both our sales and marketing teams to collaborate.
Using video in your sales process enables you to put a name to a face for your prospects. Customization is key, and video is a great way for your reps to get creative and stand out amongst a crowded inbox.
Vidyard is a video platform that integrates with your browser, email and some CRM’s. It will let you record videos and insert them right in your emails.
Adding conversational marketing to your site is also a great way to customize the experience your prospects have with your brand. You can create custom chatbots for your website that identify when a user from one of your target accounts is on your site to give them a personalized conversation.
Step 4: Measure
You will be investing a lot more time and energy into target accounts than you will inbound leads in your funnel, so it’s extremely important that you make sure those efforts are paying off. This is why having reporting and a measurement system in place is so crucial.
We do most of our reporting in HubSpot. HubSpot offers a report library that is full of pre-generated reports that you can either use as-is or customize. For ABM, there are reports that let you see things like target accounts by rep, activity totals, sales team follow up for target accounts, how engaged the accounts are with your sales team and marketing efforts and how your target account deals are progressing.
The most important thing to keep in mind about reporting is that it needs to integrate with the other tools in your tech stack.
"If you are in Salesforce and Marketo and you want to use Terminus and Drift, then you will probably want to get a BI tool to be able to measure separately since those platforms won’t all speak together for results,” says Guido.
When done correctly, ABM can yield big results for your company and even help you break into new markets or segments. But, success with an ABM strategy is all about being prepared.
If you are looking to get started with an ABM strategy at your company, be sure you have the technology you need in place too. Setting your reps and marketers up for success before getting started is key.