Account based marketing is an attractive approach for B2B companies that want to be more deliberate about growing business with existing clients. Applying ABM means having a specific strategy for all interactions with a particular customer company. It’s a step beyond CRM that only captures the history of your customer interaction, but by its nature ABM is not very personalized.
Customers today—both B2B and B2C—have come to expect more tailored, one to one interaction and that challenges traditional account based marketing practices. While this method promotes more strategic thinking and a less piecemeal approach to selling into companies, it misses making a meaningful connection with the individual. Purchase decisions are still made by individuals and by connecting with individual customers within the account around their needs and priorities you position yourself as the strategic partner they seek to solve their business problems.
But how do you get to that place? How do you make sure you are seen as a problem solver instead of someone constantly trying to extract more money? Here are three steps you can take to get on a path toward more personalized ABM strategies.
- Create Deep Customer Understanding
You obviously have a basic understanding of your customer’s business as far as the problems you are already helping them solve. But what else do they need to do to grow their business? What are they trying to deliver to their customers? And how can you fit into that equation?
The best way to approach this step is by developing a customer journey map. A customer journey map documents and defines how customers are interacting with your company now and helps identify areas for improvement moving forward. Journey mapping isn’t new, but the complexity of sales cycles in the B2B space can make it challenging. Journey maps have to be very grounded in your customer’s reality and they need to clearly connect to their goals, how those goals need to be achieved, and what touch points need to happen. Achieving this level of detail means working closely with your customer and your internal stakeholders to make sure you have a clear, comprehensive picture. With this new depth of understanding, you are able to expand the relationship based on what the customer really needs.
- Connect via Customized Offerings
With a deeper understanding of your customer’s needs, you can create a dialog around your solutions, talking about your products or programs in the context of your customer’s priorities, linking them to their goals, challenges and the outcomes they seek. The clear link to needs and priorities elevates the conversation beyond a one-way sales pitch to a business-focused discussion and leads to you being regarded as integral to your customer’s problem-solving toolkit, and not a vendor looking for additional contracts.
- Engage with the C-level Customer
Increasingly we see B2B executives being pulled into budget and buying approval for their teams’ purchases in ways they haven’t in the past. Cost pressures and the need to drive value are underlying this shift, and it has implications for a more personalized approach to ABM. C-suite executives have their own set of buying behaviors and they make decisions differently than other members of their teams. Your approach to marketing to the executive suite needs to take reflect this understanding. Consider these tenets to engage effectively with this buyer:
- Drive home your credibility: Provide them with the data to back up your positions. Insights and stories from their peers brings data to life. Be strategic with what you share and how you share it.
- Make it easy to digest: Bulleted lists are easier to scan, read, and process. Make the value and the actions clear. The C-suite puts a premium on their time, so respect theirs.
- Listen and learn: If an executive shows you infographics, or bullet points, or talks about a methodology they like, that is most likely how they prefer to process information. So, give them the same back.
- Go beyond what’s next: The hot trends get enough buzz, so regurgitating them is not going to provide a ton of value. But if you find the elusive connective tissue between that trend and something on their roadmap that they haven’t yet considered? Perfection.
Account based marketing using one to one is an attractive way to increase your pipeline velocity while also delivering measurable value to customers. Once you can crack the code of personalizing your approach to large accounts, your customers become a team of familiar colleagues who share common business goals, and together you can build value for both sides.
Remember, every touch point is an opportunity for companies to rethink their options. Make sure you are in there engaging in the right way, with the right individuals and they will want to come back for more.