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Account Based Marketing is inevitable. If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re going to implement an ABM approach eventually. There are simply too many technologies and marketing trends converging that make ABM inescapable, as Russell Glass and Shail Khiyara make it clear in this post.

Customer Centricity
Because the Internet has made product information widely available, the customer is in control of the buying process, and this unavoidable fact has made the customer experience a tremendous advantage, Glass and Khiyara argued. ABM enables marketing and sales teams to work together to deliver a winning CX.

The Proliferation of Data
The rise of data has made it possible to target marketing messages precisely to specific audiences — that is individual companies or accounts — which has made ABM so accessible that 71 percent of B2B marketers have run an ABM program.

Content Must Be Relevant
Buyers are bombarded by content in today’s hyper-connected world, and weeding out irrelevant content has become an imperative. An ABM approach is built around the idea that a company makes itself helpful by delivering specific, relevant, timely and useful content to particular companies.

Sales and Marketing Alignment
The capability to use data and content to deliver relevant marketing messages has made increased sales and marketing alignment a long awaited reality. LinkedIn research shows that 70 percent of salespeople and marketers agree that sales-marketing alignment results in an improved customer experience.

ABM is coming – here’s what you can do right now to prepare

Here are nine steps the sophisticated marketers can take to ensure their foray into ABM is a winner:

Step 1: Position ABM as a Strategic Initiative

ABM is about driving growth through high-visibility accounts. With so much riding on your ABM efforts, it’s critical that the management team recognizes the strategic importance of this program and puts the necessary resources behind it. To get these resources, marketers must work closely with sales to lay the groundwork for success by documenting target accounts, goals, and tactics, and by agreeing on how to measure the impact of your combined efforts.

Step 2: Staff Up for Success

The most successful ABM marketers act as CMOs on the specific accounts they are targeting. The skills necessary to execute this kind of ABM are an entrepreneurial spirit, an understanding of selling to multi-departmental buying teams, storytelling, and strong project management skills.

Step 3: Agree on Goals with Sales

For an ABM approach to see success, it’s imperative that sales and marketing work together. Among the goals these departments should be aligned on:

  • Identifying a higher number of influential individuals within each account
  • Promoting higher customer loyalty
  • Closing a higher percentage of major deals
  • Growing revenues within existing accounts

Step 4: Identify Target Accounts

Sales and Marketing must collaborate to identify the most promising accounts to target. The teams should examine internal and external data to determine, for example, what company characteristics are the most predictive of sales success and are shared by the most loyal and profitable accounts.

Step 5: Research Everyone on the Buying Committee

The goal of ABM is to land or expand an account, but don’t forget that you’re selling to a set of people within each account. And getting a grasp on each person’s role and responsibilities is critical to effectively engaging them. Using LinkedIn, you can discover vital information about people in a select account, such as their recent activities, likes, and experiences.

Step 6: Develop Compelling, Engaging Content for Each Influential Department

With ABM, marketers must ensure that their messages and content reach both far and wide within a single account. LinkedIn research shows, depending on the industry, that 3.1 to 4.6 additional groups beyond the main purchaser inside a company in influence the purchase process. Ideally, you must create content that speaks to the CFO, but also content that addresses the concerns of, for instance, engineering and human resources, which may wield buying influence.

Step 7: Equip Your Sales Team to Engage Accounts

In aligning with the sales team, marketers must ensure that salespeople have the insight and content they need to be useful to their target accounts. Marketers should provide an account overview and personas on each member of the buying committee, up-to-date interactions between the account and your company, and relevant content and guidance on when and how to use it.

Step 8: Put ABM into Action

In an ABM program, marketing typically is responsible for serving content, generating Marketing Qualified Accounts, and keeping sales posted on account interactions. To put these ABM responsibilities into action, marketers should determine the most fitting technologies to use, which can include analytics tools, marketing automation software, customer relationship management systems, and social media.

Step 9: Test and Measure Impact

To calculate the effectiveness of your ABM campaigns, A/B testing is indispensable. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it can be better to start with a big account list rather than a small one. If you start small, it’s harder to run A/B tests and fine-tune your focus. But if you start with a large list of target accounts and apply ABM best practices, you can measure the impact of your campaigns and then segment that larger list for maximum impact.

To learn more about ABM’s inevitability and how to take advantage of it in your organization, register today for the webinar, “Why Account-Based Marketing Is Inevitable: How to Take Advantage of the Trends That Make ABM a Successful Strategy for B2B Marketers.”