3 Critical Steps to Identifying the Best ABM Target Accounts

Posted on by Tracy Eiler

HandshakeThis is the second part of a three part series on account based marketing (ABM). Click here to read part one, “3 Reasons Targeted Data is Critical to ABM.”

The data you plan to use for creating your list of target accounts for account based marketing (ABM) needs to be clean, accurate and shared between sales and marketing. You need good data to help you determine which are the right accounts, connect contacts with those accounts, and give sales and marketing the insights they need to engage.

Once you’re confident in your account data, the most important part of moving to ABM is knowing which accounts to target. In most cases, this is more than just saying “manufacturing companies with more than $100 million in revenue.” But even if that is the depth of your targeting, you’ll see that targeted data is still required.

Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions mentioned in a recent webinar “Account-Based Marketing & Selling” that there must be data-driven goals to accomplish the deployment of ABM. “When it comes to account selection, ‘because sales said so’ may be the reality of how accounts get chosen, but it’s not the best way to do it, You actually want to have a combination of a fact-based and a data-driven approach to saying which of these accounts we want go after. What kind of opportunity is present in those accounts? And what’s the quality of the relationship we have with them?”

Here are three critical steps to building your target accounts list:

1. Define your target personas. Develop your target personas, which define who you go after (and how you craft messaging) at the contact level. You may be targeting accounts, but you still need to engage with people. Targeting their industry helps you create marginally relevant messaging, but targeting and messaging by persona lets you connect with them based on their day-to-day needs, challenges, and goals.

OnNot only do you need data for the titles of each contact, you need to be confident it’s accurate and current. And if you think your data is fine, consider this: the frequency at which individuals change jobs is shocking. At some larger companies the median employee tenure is less than 18 months, according to a report from Payscale. In other words, the contacts you’re targeting are moving around more than you might expect, so much of your data is already out of date.

2. Determine if you have adequate market coverage and if not, get it. Look at your target markets to determine the coverage in your marketing automation and CRM systems on two dimensions: titles and accounts. Your data tells you where you’re lacking in those target roles. If you find that logistics managers are a great target, for example, but you only have 15% coverage of logistics managers in your target accounts, you won’t be very successful.

Similarly with total addressable market, you’ll want to be sure you consider every potential targeted account, not just what’s in your database. If you’re targeting steel manufacturers, work with a third party to determine how many there actually are, compare that with how many are in your systems, and then devise a plan to acquire data on missing accounts.

You data also must be rich enough to allow you to precisely and intelligently target, which means a broad and deep set of data elements. SiriusDecisions, in their research brief, “Developing a Sales Data Management Strategy, details the type of data required as “account, contact, opportunity and purchase activities for past, present and future buyers. Four core data types must be captured: historical (revenue), benchmarking (average deal size), market intelligence (economic factors) and active (pipeline).”

This also requires a clean CRM database so you can connect leads with accounts and contacts. If dirty data has you muddling through accounts for GE and General Electric and GE Inc., you’re going to have a tough time making ABM work effectively.

3. Ensure data for targets meets the 3 Cs—complete, current and common. Across your target personas, be sure you have complete data for titles, company names, and contact information. If you’re missing a wide swath of titles, it’ll be tough to target personas. Again, using a third-party data provider to augment and enrich your data might be required to fill in the blanks.

Data has to be current so that it’s more accurate. Look at when records or fields were first created or last updated, and then set a bar for what’s potentially out of date. If an account’s revenue field hasn’t been updated in two years, for example, then consider that data inaccurate. Set a bar, then purge, archive, or ignore data that’s older.

Your data also has to flow between marketing automation and CRM, so both sales and marketing see and act on common data. If that’s not happening, sales reps waste time working the wrong contacts or researching for current data, which hurts sales rep efficiency and productivity. Or worse, sales data shows an account as outside the target parameters while marketing data shows them as a great target.

Working from common data also helps sales amplify the message marketing has already pushed to the accounts. If marketing has touched an account and a specific contact within that account, you want to be sure sales is continuing that same messaging thread. Sales can only use the same persona-based messaging if they see the same title as marketing. Data continuity ensures that sales continues leads down the path that marketing started.

Tracy Eiler is CMO of InsideView.

Related Articles:

Three Reasons Targeted Data is Critical to ABM

Special Report: Creating ABM Synergy

One Size Doesn’t Fit All in ABM


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