“Account Based Marketing” is all the rage these days.

You’ll want to pay attention if any of these questions ring true:

  • Are you trying to find B2B clients from just about any industry that has even an inkling of a use for your products?
  • If so, are your conversion rates surprisingly low?
  • And you’re probably burning through leads like nobody’s business, right?

If you’re nodding your head in agreement right now, keep reading.

We’ve determined the problem and are determined to share with you a better way to sell your stuff. It’s through this process Account Based Marketing (ABM).

The traditional way of getting clients includes sending out thousands of emails or advertising to broad audiences. Whatever lead comes through the door are then given (typically) a pretty rigid pitch.

If they buy, great! If not, there are thousands more leads where that came from.

Let’s take a deep look at ABM and see if it could increase the workload on the front-end (prospecting leads) and significantly raise conversions.

What Is Account Based Marketing?

We’ve laid out the “traditional” methods for a lot of sales organizations. Now it’s time to go over exactly how account based marketing is defined.

Account Based Marketing: is an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account. (Source)

“Concentrates sales…clearly defined set of target accounts…personalized campaigns…resonate with each account.”

Sounds terrifying to anyone using the old methods—but it’s not really.

Imagine what you could do with a little analysis and data on the front end that gave you some real indications that a contact would be an ideal prospect for your products. It’s possible, but will (obviously) take some adjustment.

In all reality, it may not be for you (but probably is).

Who Account Based Marketing is For (and Not For)

If you are a rep, lead, or owner of a B2B; this method could almost certainly be used at your organization.

Higher ticketed items in the B2C world may be included, to some degree, but you’ll strictly use demographic and psychographic data to determine your leads.

As far as who ABM is not for?

Every B2C can benefit from using things like buyer personas and data to better target and appeal to their narrowed down audience, but you won’t try to hunt down high-quality specific names of consumers.

Ideally, you are creating personal campaigns to individual accounts.

If that doesn’t sound like it would have a good ROI, depending on your business model or commission structure—account based management may not be for you.

You’ll have to determine that for yourself (or your company). If you’re still interested, let’s break down the process.

Down to Brass Tacks

If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you’ve probably seen various sales funnels.

In order to best explain how ABM works for B2B sales, we’ll use a very simple funnel to help you sort it out.

account based marketing funnel

Stage One: Identify Companies

In a traditional sales environment, this stage is easy. You just open up the list and start trying to get someone to buy.

In account based management, identifying companies is actually a critical part of the process.

Before you can move toward creating that custom campaign, you have to understand who you’d like to speak with. For starters, you’ll need to look at your client list and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which brands really resonated with our solution?
  • What was their pain point that really drove it home?
  • What was their structure and the titles/positions of decision makers?
  • What objections did they have before making a final decision?
  • Was there any material they wanted that wasn’t available (e.g. whitepapers, webinars)?

You may have heard of “buyer personas” and this is a similar process. What you are trying to create are “ideal prospect personas”.

When you’re looking for leads, it will be obvious which contacts seem like a close fit.

Bonus Tip: The best place to learn the answers to the questions above is to call your great clients and ask them.

Stage Two: Find Influencers/Decision Maker

At a certain level, there are multiple people involved in the buying decision (the average right now is 5.4).

That said, there is typically only one person in charge of signing the contract and loosening the purse strings (i.e. decision maker).

But don’t just search for this one person. The “others” in this scenario are called influencers.

They can be either direct or indirect.

  • Direct Influencers: These are people who are closely involved and specifically a part of the buying process. For instance, the decision maker is the V.P. of marketing, but the marketing manager downloads your lead magnet. Makes sense? There may be a few people learning about solutions for their pain.
  • Indirect Influencers: This influencer isn’t directly involved in the buying process (per se), but does have the ear of the decision maker. This could be direct reports, supervisors, or colleagues in an unrelated department (like other VPs).

It’s important to find out who would be involved in the process while also figuring out who is in charge of the whole thing. Searching with tools that allow you to find multiple roles in a single company would be ideal.

Stage Three: Engage All Key Players

You’ve been more involved with these leads through the entire process, but now it’s time to engage with them directly.

There are three primary things that you want to find out during your engagements.

  1. The Decision Maker: Emailing and cold calling to find the person who is in charge of purchasing products (like yours) is vital to the process. Try sending an email asking (just a few) of your contacts that says, “Can you point me in the right direction?” It works.
  2. Are They a Fit: Your goal in sales is to have meaningful conversations that either move the lead closer to buying or tell you to stop wasting time (or possibly wait a few months). Figuring out how strong their need is versus how much they realize it, needs to happen during your engagement.
  3. Needed Resources: B2B sales don’t happen quickly (most of the time). The buying team needs resources, and if you’ve done a good job of picking out the right leads—you should develop what they need.

A Word on Resources: The content and other elements that your target accounts need are critical tools that need to be developed. In this style of marketing you are developing tailor-made resources to help the specific markets you’ll reach out to.

These are the things that you need in order to weed out suspects and get leads into a position where they are ready for a demo/pitch.

If you do this process right, get ready for your conversions to exponentially increase.

Depending on how your commission structure works, there is an incredible benefit to sending hundreds of more personalized emails a week as opposed to thousands of mass communications.

This level of care also gives you the ability to develop relationships so much better, which will lead to more referrals.

Stage Four: Create Advocates

Again, the whole system of account-based management creates the environment of knowing your leads and taking better care of them. Put those two things together and you have a relationship.

Just contacting those in the “closed-won” category every now and again with helpful tips, or just a genuine sense of care will help you develop “brand advocates”.

Doing so, benefits both the company (if you’re the owner or lead) and the reps.

  • Company: The benefits here are straightforward. You have a lower churn rate (if you’re in recurring revenue), better client satisfaction, fewer returns, higher referrals, and an overall solid foundation for growth.
  • Sale Reps: Once you hit ten or so of these higher caliber accounts, you’ll be able to realize a steady stream of referrals coming your way. If you develop a system of reaching out regularly followed by a quick “ask” for anyone they may know of who’d like to talk with you, your efforts will pay off.

To help you continue your research, here are a few great guides we enjoyed.

Doing It Well

The biggest difference between the traditional sales model and account based management is all in the name.

You’re not trying to plug in leads to a rigid formula. You’re trying to find ideal clients and manage their account—even before they’re your customer.

It’s the way things in business are turning.

Emails that even smell of spam are quickly thrown into the trash without any remorse whatsoever.

The days of ripping through leads is almost over. Now reps are required to take care of their customers from the very conception of the sales funnel all the way through the life of the account.