By Marc Woodland on December 19, 2019

How to kick off the Account Based Marketing process

If you’ve been following our articles, you’ll be familiar with the five-step Account Based Marketing (ABM) process. If not, you should read our guide, here.

However, before you jump into your ABM strategy, there are a few things you need to do to get the ball rolling, which we’ll cover in this article.

Guide: How to adopt ABM

Before we conduct our first ABM workshop with new clients, we’ll work with marketing and business leadership to establish the following:

  1. The ABM team
  2. Business objectives
  3. Some important considerations

Choosing your ABM team

Getting your team right is vital to the success of your programme. ABM is a team game and, like any team game, if you have top players you’ll have a better chance of success.

Usually, your ABM team will be made up of representatives from the following departments:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Business leadership
  • Operations
  • An ABM champion

Your ABM champion should be someone internal in the company who will be the ambassador for your ABM activity. More often than not they’re from Marketing, but they will help to educate the internal team on what ABM is and why it’s going to be great for the business. They’ll also ensure that your ABM programme’s momentum is kept up, and that everyone is following through on their commitments.

Business leaders might not be involved in the day-to-day, but are crucial to ensure the board are invested in the programme, are informed of progress and allow your ABM team to have the time and resources they need to ensure your programme is a success. On average you’ll see return on investment from your activities in 13.3 months - so patience is key.

One team member that is often missed is a representative from Operations. This member will offer vital intel from everyday interactions that they’re having with customers. It might be regular complaints or frustrations that they hear, what customers particularly like about your service or uncovering opportunities for a particular account to significantly grow.

One of the main benefits of ABM is that it gets Sales and Marketing working together. However, although Marketing will likely be the pioneers of your programme, so bought into the philosophy, it’s important that Sales equally see the benefit to their role. This means getting Sales buy-in from the very start and mutually agreeing on the goals with Marketing.

Business objectives

Your ABM goals need to be aligned with the business’ overall objectives. This seems fairly obvious but it’s an important step and one that needs to be made clear upfront.

We tend to look at three types of business goal before we begin an ABM programme with a client:

1. Short-term needs

2. 12 month goals

3. 36 month goals

Sometimes the business will have short-term needs that can’t be ignored. Although ABM is a long-term strategy, as are most marketing strategies, that doesn’t mean that it can’t enable you to achieve quick wins. For example, you might have landed a big opportunity that you want the best possible chance of winning. The ABM methodology could give you a competitive advantage over your competitors. Or, you might need to secure an important account that is at risk of churning. Again, an ABM approach could help you to protect and grow this account.

As ABM is, on the whole, a long-term strategy, it’s important to look at your 1-year and 3-year business goals to ensure sales, marketing and overall business objectives are aligned.

Important considerations

There are also some important considerations to think about and discuss before you get started. This will mainly affect the ABM strategy you adopt, the type of ABM you go with and your target accounts.

These considerations are not limited to, but often include:

  • Average lead time
  • Current lead generation performance
  • Current hot opportunities
  • Client spread (revenue and profit)
  • How you identify opportunities
  • Internal resources and restrictions
  • How you achieved previous new business or upsell wins
  • Lapsed customers in the past 12 months
  • Which of your current clients get the most value from your services

The above considerations will help you to build a picture of the ABM strategy you should run with - protect and grow or new business generation. It allows you to establish the type of ABM that will suit your business best, whether it’s 1:1, 1:Few or 1:Many, and the target accounts you should select - whether it’s current hot leads that you must win, lapsed customers who you can get back on board or a particular market segment that you’ve had particular success.

Only once you’ve worked through the above steps are you ready to get the whole ABM team together and embark on your journey. Jumping in too quickly could be the difference between success and failure.

Guide: How to adopt ABM

Is there anything else that you do before starting your ABM programmes? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Featured image: Complize via Adobe stock

Published by Marc Woodland December 19, 2019