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Embarking on an Account Based Marketing (ABM) journey? Excited about the personalized, high-touch programs you plan to run to target accounts? All of these ideas are wonderful, but your ABM initiative will FAIL without first building the proper account foundation. This might sound alarming and scary, but don’t worry, it’s not. Read this blog post to learn four ways to shift from a lead-based mindset to an account-centric one to ensure ABM success.

Moving from MQLs to MQAs isn’t easy, which is why we’ve dedicated an entire webinar to exploring this topic deeper.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) vs. Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs) – what’s the difference?

A Marketing Qualified Lead is a person who is starting to exhibit buying behavior. If you have a broad-reach demand generation strategy, then MQLs make sense. You don’t care what kind of company responds to your campaigns. It’s all about the individual, what program he/she responded to, and when is the right time to call this person.

An ABM strategy is much more strategic. You care about certain companies and all the people at them. You want the account to reach a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA) status which means the target account or discrete buying center has reached a sufficient level of engagement to indicate possible sales readiness. An MQA should be a stage in your account funnel and therefore extremely significant.

account funnel and mqas

It’s a milestone in an account’s journey to becoming a customer. Additionally, it’s an early indicator as to how your ABM programs are performing.

Ready to make the move to MQA? Here are four steps to ensure success.

1 – Meet with sales early and often

I can’t stress how important this step is. Bring sales in at the beginning for collaboration and alignment. Help them understand the definition of an MQA and why it’s important. Involve them in defining the threshold for an MQA. Ask for feedback on a regular basis. I meet weekly with our sales development reps (SDRs) and AEs to get feedback, review metrics, and understand how MQAs are tracking.

2 – Bring in all sales and marketing activities

For an MQA to be meaningful you need to track the sales and marketing activities of every person at a target account. You should capture all activities (emails, calls, etc.) logged within your CRM. You want to include sales calendar meetings as well as all outreach via email. Website visits are also important as well as marketing program participation recorded in your marketing automation system. All of these data sources need to be logged as engagement and contribute to the MQA score in order to show a holistic view of the account.

3 – Agree on Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Another necessary item is a SLA – a basic contract between a sales and marketing that details the nature, quality, and scope of the service to be provided. Together you need to define what an MQA is, the rules of engagement, and time period for follow up. Some questions to ask are: Is the AE going to follow up or does it go to the SDRs? When does outreach start? 24 hours? 48 hours? How many times and in what fashion will this account be contacted?

4 – Make MQAs actionable

The easiest way to make MQA data actionable is to surface account engagement data for everyone to view. Send a weekly report to outline what target accounts are or aren’t doing. These types of reports are easy to create and are excellent for joint sales and marketing meetings on ABM account penetration and prioritization. In addition, create CRM views so the SDRs can easily find and call on the MQAs each day.

These four steps will help you build an account-centric foundation, and tracking MQAs are an easy way to identify accounts with buying intent. MQA data can also be leveraged to assist in account scoring, target account selection, account reviews, and quarterly business reviews.

Check out this webinar for a deeper dive into moving from MQLs to MQAs:

I hope you found this blog useful and I would love to hear where you are on your ABM journey!