5 Core Components of a Successful ABM Strategy

“Narf!…What are we going to do today Brain?”

“The same thing we do every night Pinky…try to take over the world!!!”

Have your attempts to bring together account-based marketing (ABM) strategies felt like something straight out of an Animaniacs episode of Pinky and the Brain—and ultimately ended in failure? For many B2B marketers, account-level strategies have been as elusive and large as the goal of two mice trying to take over the world. But within the last two years, new tools have emerged that can truly handle the discipline and rigor required for account targeting strategies without creating an unmanageable burden for marketing and sales.

This blog unpacks five components supported by sophisticated marketing automation solutions that will accelerate and enhance your ABM implementation strategy:

1. Build the Sales Bridge

A key part of implementing ABM is to establish alignment between sales and marketing leadership. Sales and marketing approaches have often conflicted because it has been challenging to quickly map and manage strategic communication at the account level. The latest marketing automation solutions for ABM can segment accounts with ease and greater granularity without overburdening the organization.

With the reduction of the time and effort needed to work at or near the specific account level, your marketing strategy can be much more closely tied to region and territory-level sales activities. To properly deliver results, it’s important for your marketing team to walk sales leadership through the new capabilities and brainstorm on the best ways to crawl, walk, and run with ABM.

For example, you could host an introduction to ABM and follow it up by holding a separate meeting to decide on shared tactics. Finally, train your sales team on the benefits of ABM and communicate the value to them–this will increase buy-in and follow-through on leads generated from your ABM initiatives.

2. Define Your Segments

By targeting the right audience with the right tactics, you can see significant improvements in your campaign results. To accomplish this with ABM, it’s important to define a framework that helps segment your database in a way that supports your go-to-market strategy. ABM programs deliver value largely through focused activities and messaging to specific segments.

Segmentation dimensions may include:

  • Company classification (Fortune 500, Fortune 1000, etc.)
  • Organization size
  • Annual revenue
  • Current spend
  • Projected spend
  • Products purchased
  • Targeted products
  • Open opportunities
  • Closed opportunities
  • Geography

Take some time to define your audience segments and the anticipated messaging that will resonate with them and then share the plan internally to understand whether it can be implemented without overcomplicating execution.

To make life easier, sophisticated marketing automation platforms have triggers and filters that are uniquely designed to consume and act on account-related information. ABM strategies require inclusion/exclusion rules to be applied across contacts that are associated with the account record and therefore must be tied to the latest technology that can process individual and aggregate interactions. Platforms that have pre-programmed these functions will not only make it easier to execute an ABM strategy but will improve the timing and effectiveness of it as well.

3. Align Your Plays

In combination with the first two components, review your anticipated audiences and go-to-market strategy with your sales team. During these sessions, collaborate with sales to incorporate both targeted messaging and sales tactics. The tighter the coordination between sales activities and marketing touchpoints, the more likely ABM programs will deliver results.

By leveraging marketing automation workflows, you can coordinate the timing between customer interactions and sales follow-up. With flow-based alerts, tasks, pre-programmed follow-up, and other steps, you can align marketing and sales efforts to focus and close the most important accounts.

4. Empower Sales and Marketing

Your ABM efforts can fall apart if you’re not able to deliver measurable results. This is true both at the program level, campaign level, and even at the territory level. However, leading marketing automation platforms are able to deliver metrics and insights at each of these levels with little-to-no effort on behalf of the sales or marketing team.

Example reports include account activity scoring, consolidated opportunity history, and named account list summaries. These reports can be shared between sales and marketing to create a feedback loop so that a holistic and shared view of the targeted accounts becomes the centerpiece for driving your go-to-market strategies.

With all of the above components at your disposal, a full 360o approach can be implemented that includes:

  • ABM strategy definition
  • Audience-messaging-execution alignment
  • Results tracking
  • Continuous optimization

However, the typical ABM implementation struggles to take root because each of these areas is vital to a sustainable program. An ABM solution that’s native to a marketing automation platform is essential to support the full 360o strategy within a single platform.

5. Host Consistent Planning Sessions with Territory-level Managers

As a final measure to delivering a thriving ABM program, host consistent review sessions with territory-level managers and sales leadership. This can be accomplished through a bi-weekly or monthly program that leverages in-system information to review and coordinate go-forward initiatives.

Account-based marketing programs are accelerating go-to-market strategies by delivering a differentiated and coordinated experience for targeted accounts. New technologies are helping execute ABM strategies in ways that were not previously possible, and finding the right solution is essential to supporting the right ABM approach and delivering sustainable results that focus efforts on the accounts that really matter, engage decision-makers from target accounts across channels, and analyze and optimize account-based programs.

What other core components have you found critical to your ABM strategy? Share them in the comments below.