Thanks to a top-flight presentation from Lora Kratchounova, Principal of Scratch Marketing, a large and appreciative crowd of local marketers learned precisely how much account-based marketing (ABM) can improve their companies’ sales funnels – 208%!
At the “ABCs of ABM” event in Burlington on February 28th, Lora used a powerful, funnel-flipping metaphor: Are you still fishing with just a net? Perhaps you ought to throw a spear on the boat. That is to say that marketers who want to impact their sales pipeline need to add an account-based marketing approach to their traditional funnel-marketing paradigm.
I heartily agree. Account-based marketing, at its essence, is creating an integrated marketing strategy that is aimed at one singular company. That idea is not new, but it used to be cost-prohibitive and non-scalable. Technology is changing that. Today, ABM makes marketing matter more to prospective customers and thereby to salespeople in ways traditional broad-audience tactics alone cannot. Whether you are an ABM novice or an expert, looking at prospective customers through an account-based lens can uncover opportunities that your Sales department will love you for.
#1. Virtually all B2B marketers who use ABM can report success, averaging a powerful 208% more revenue from marketing investment
This is a money slide! It explains why so many organizations are adopting or exploring ABM. While it may not always be easy or immediate, there are always positive results to be found. Use this slide to make a case for an ABM focus inside your organization. To whom should you make that case? I’m glad you asked…
#2. Success requires buy-in, a champion, from three primary stakeholder groups: Marketing, Sales, and Operations.
Marketers, as a group, are usually the first to embrace ABM, followed soon by Sales, specifically Inside Sales or Business Development Reps. Then Operations, both Marketing Operations and Sales Operations, help make ABM aspirations a reality. For this purpose, it’s critical to have an evangelist in each of these groups. Finance and IT also have enabling roles, but less on a day-to-day basis.
#3. ABM, at its core, is really about Sales and Marketing alignment.
This may be the most transcendent takeaway on my list. Sales and Marketers have been like a married couple squabbling through a love/hate relationship since the beginning of time. “Send me more leads.”“Stop neglecting the ones I’ve already sent.” For these embattled perspectives, ABM is like marriage counseling. ABM provides a relationship-building forum of that can flex to fit the amount of time and resources each group can provide. Take advantage of the each group’s shared interest in marketing-contributed sales pipeline to build a plan. Make it small enough to execute quickly. Revisit and refine that plan regularly. Scale the process. Live happily ever after.
#4. A Combined Funnel
From the start, realize that ABM is really about more than marketing. Account-based selling is the other side of the same coin. Expand your paradigm to a combined funnel. Lora calls it Account-based Funnel Management (ABFM). This means a new shared lens of funnel analytics. While it doesn’t replace lead generation metrics or pipeline velocity measures, it gives them both context. Start with a small number of target accounts, and determine a target number of opportunities to derive from them. Compare the close rates and lifetime value of those accounts to the untargeted baseline.
#5. A flipped funnel becomes your ABM roadmap
Instead of starting with a large audience that narrows based on response rates, start with your ideal customer in mind. Identify your best customers and their attributes that make your offer valuable to them. Then expand to a larger target list, often called “named-accounts.” Use look-alike modeling based on a company’s firmographics. Differentiate each contributor of a buying cycle. Build an integrated plan selecting your most appropriate sales and marketing tactics specifically created for your named targets. Include marketing emails and phone calls, but don’t forget direct mail and digital advertising. Channels that have struggled to be efficient in the past now have new life when they can be purchased for a targeted audience. Lastly, build advocates with proactive activities that enable customers to become your brand evangelists.
#6. How do you create the content that speaks to specific buyers?
As you can see in this ABFM flow slide, content remains at the center of your customer interaction. Armed with an understanding of your target roles (make sure Sales and Product Marketing have shared their insights), you may be overwhelmed by the amount of content you think you need to create. But herein lies a secret weapon you’ll use to scale. Instead of creating one monster white paper, or webinar, or tipsheet, focus on the component parts of those documents. Make modular content that is easy for sales and marketers across your organization to assemble. Small pieces of content are more publishable in social media channels. A single slide is easier to email than a data-heavy deck.
The Boston chapter’s large turnout at this event attests that ABM is a hot topic. The audience was engaged, leaning forward in their seats, and entertained a lively interaction. One thing is certain: Scratch Marketing is wicked smaht. Take a look at the slides, and follow the conversation at #ABCofABM. There’s a way for everyone to apply these principles. Though ABM takes dedication to perfect, you will see positive impact as soon as you start.
AMA Boston thanks Lora and all the attendees for a great evening! We hope to see you at one of our many upcoming events – take a look!
American Marketing Association Boston Chapter
PO Box 1565
Westborough, MA 01581