1. Good data is the foundation of ABM success.
Regardless of your ABM approach, targeted, clean, accurate and shared account and contact data is required to make ABM work at all, let alone work well. If you don’t have good data on your contacts, you won’t know who works at the same accounts and if they’re the right personas. If you don’t have good account-level data, you won’t know which accounts are the best targets.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To effectively score accounts, you need accurate account-level data, such as revenues and employee counts. You can’t really rely on contacts to know and enter that data into a web form. (Do you know the exact revenue and employee count of your company off the top of your head?) These numbers change at least quarterly, so it’s hard for anyone to keep up. Plus we all know more fields on a web form means lower conversions, so it’s a double whammy: You can’t fully trust the data you get and you can’t ask for more data.
However, you need complete and accurate data to run an effective ABM program. To hone in on the best accounts you need firmographics (headquarters location, employees, financials, etc.). To target on relevancy and urgency to boost engagement you need insights (profitability, news, events, launches, etc.). This is where data platforms and other technologies can help by enriching your existing data and increasing its accuracy.
2. ABM requires you to accurately connect leads with accounts.
At many companies, marketing passes leads to sales, and sales prioritizes follow-up based on the lead score, which is typically measured on things like emails opened and assets downloaded. So if one person from AT&T downloads an ebook from your site, you give that lead, say, five points. If 10 people from AT&T download an ebook from your site, you give them all the same five points, all as individual leads and without considering the broad interest from the entire AT&T account. Instead of seeing a hot lead in AT&T as an account, you have 10 not-so-interesting individual leads.
While typical lead scoring generally doesn’t consider the attributes of the whole account, such as the number of employees who downloaded that ebook, ABM puts everything in the context of the account. Furthermore, account-level insights beyond simple firmographics can signal relevancy and urgency, such as recent financial performance, a corporate reorganization, or a new product launch. Adding insights at the account level brings an extra layer of intelligence that helps you engage at the right time and with the right contacts.
Insights on an individual contact, such as what you can glean from their Facebook and Twitter updates, are what makes social selling such a hot—and proven—tactic. With ABM, you’re looking for the same types of insights but at the account level.
New technologies can further enhance your ABM program by pulling in account-based data. Look at companies like Lattice, Infer, QuotaFactory, and others using advanced methods to help sales and marketing identify the best accounts to target.
3. Both marketing and sales need to be able to put that data to use.
Having great data in your marketing automation tool means little if sales uses different data in their CRM system. Sure, you can personalize emails and market to whole accounts more easily, but then when you pass that wonderful lead to sales, it breaks down. Maybe their data shows the account’s revenue at $460 million, not the true $546 million that would put them into the hands of your “enterprise” sales team. Or, maybe their data shows a lead as a manager, not the director-level she was promoted to last year, so they don’t bother calling on her as a decision maker.
If sales and marketing are working off of different data, your chances of success diminish significantly because you’ll disagree on which accounts to target and why. You’re also not able to create a consistent message across marketing and sales, not able to target the right contacts, and not able to engage based on accurate, relevant, and current insights.
In a recent InsideView webinar, “Account-Based Marketing & Selling,” Jon Miller, CEO, Engagio, mentioned insights that provide personalization are what is going to help with organic search and warming up leads. He recommends using the classic “find out three things about that account” approach, and then sprinkling those relevant insights across every interaction. “Make sure every time you’re sending them something that you’re just doing that light personalization touch.”
In order to put your data to use, however, your teams need easy access. In the “Give Sellers the Alignment Data They Need to Succeed” report, Forrester Research senior analyst Steven Wright wrote that “giving sellers access to a wide swath of data and expecting them to know what to do with it won’t work.” In essence, marketing and sales have to work together to tie news, insights, contact details, and account firmographics together to be precise, relevant, and effective in their targeting.
Targeted data and insights paired with your targeted accounts will allow you to cut through the noise because you’re engaging with relevant, timely, and accurate intelligence.
Once you’re confident in your account data, the next most important part to ABM success is knowing which accounts to target. There’s more to it than just saying “manufacturing companies with over $100 million in revenue.” In part two, we’ll discuss how to define which accounts to target.