For those of us who have been on the product marketing and sales side of B2B for more than a few years, the account-based approach isn’t a new concept; it is a trusted one. Deals with long sales cycles, massive RFPs, and buying committees have often required taking an account-based approach to be successful, regardless of whether the company size was SMB or Enterprise. And to do this, we would bring our “A” game to the table. It was a large table, full of real people who each had definite opinions and biases on our product before we even arrived in the room. As a team, this was our one shot to outsell our competitors. It was glorious when we won, but the process was exhausting, and by no means sustainable.

The beauty of marketing technologies in today’s world is that we can heavily influence a buying committee prior to sales having those deal-sealing conversations. Marketing automation platforms have evolved quickly and can now easily facilitate personalized interactions with various stakeholders in an account while still applying Account-Based Marketing (ABM) techniques across the entire customer lifecycle. As marketing technologists, we’ve made amazing progress and experienced much success with automating many of the processes to facilitate ABM; however, it is not without its challenges.

Data, data, data. It all starts with data.

As many of us have learned, not all data is good data. 1:1 interaction with prospects can only be effective if the data you have at your disposal about that prospect is accurate and complete with the most recent, relevant information. Typos, incomplete records, and obsolete information permeates most marketing databases. A clean database will provide more opportunity to move from a traditional persona-based approach to an ABM approach. Learning how to leverage behavioral, contextual and firmographic data from across the internet to build and prioritize a list of high value target accounts is essential to success in the ABM world.

Integrations are key.

Integration is more than just sending data back and forth; it’s also about analyzing and taking action on data gleaned from a prospect’s activities and interests across multiple systems. The ability to identify unknown prospects and match them to digital activities collected through anonymous targeting across multiple systems for the proper decisioning of next steps is imperative to keeping messaging personal and relevant to your prospects. First generation integrations have provided a good vehicle for launching this methodology, but next level integrations are beginning to provide more seamless aggregation of the insights and information collected across MarTech vendors that may have been previously difficult to attain.

Personas are important, but limited.

Creating a persona for your buyers is very important when segmenting and messaging for general campaigns to grow MQLs, but it’s not without its limitations for ABM. Personas are not real people. They are a digital version of our perception of a particular group of people. We can assume a lot about our target prospects based on their likes and digital body language, but if we don’t actually know what drives their specific interest in our product, we are guessing. Even though these are very educated guesses, it’s not an exact science and will not be 100% on target every time. When looking to truly engage someone on the account’s buying committee in that 1:1 conversation, the approach needs to be more granular.

So what’s next?

As an industry, we are seeing significant advances in account insights being applied across the entire customer lifecycle. The layering in of artificial intelligence (AI) into the B2B customer experience is transforming how we collect, manage, and make decisions for crafting compelling 1:1 interaction with prospects in ABM. The partnership between marketing automation and ABM is rapidly becoming more efficient and precise, empowering both marketing and sales with more insight into their high value accounts faster than before. Marketers are driving strategic conversations earlier in the buying cycle and influencing opinions on the product before those committee presentations are given and final decisions are made. And it’s only getting better.

Learn more about how Oracle Marketing Cloud and Demandbase continue to partner on ABM at the Marketing Innovation Summit.