What’s Killing Your ABM Strategy and How to Fight Back

Posted on by Sanjay Castelino

marketing leadersAt its core, account based marketing (ABM) adherents treat a fewer number of current and prospective clients as markets unto themselves with the goal of nurturing long-term, high-value relationships.

Sound good? It should. Highly profitable enterprises have been executing high-touch marketing programs for generations. The only reason more companies don’t take this approach is that it’s difficult, potentially costly, and easy to get wrong.

Knock, Knock, Knocking on the Same Old Door

There’s a reason ABM is popular right now in B2B. It comes down to B2B’s “80-20” rule, which says 80% of your revenue comes from just 20 percent your client base.

An April 2015 survey from Sirius Decisions found 92% of companies call ABM a B2B marketing must-have, yet only 20% had full programs in place for more than a year. More than 60% were planning to invest in technology to support ABM initiatives at the time of the study.

Yet this idea can—and will—be taken to a silly extreme. Contacting the same people at the same company over and over and over again will produce fatigue, especially if your marketing and sales teams aren’t working together to provide new value with each interaction.

Your team can become those people, the salesperson and their marketing partner who haven’t been given the training or tools to understand badgering won’t land lifetime clients, no matter how good your product is. They’re relying on an old model that simply doesn’t work any longer. Thousands of other B2B companies are also deploying salespeople and partners in marketing in hopes of finding potential friends on the inside with whom they can build deeper, more long-term relationships. And they may be doing ABM right.

When the Time for ABM is Right

First, recognize “value” is an amorphous term that can change from account to account. Having a wide range of content and programs for answering questions and satisfying needs is crucial. Second, you need to be willing to create new value when you have nothing to offer from your existing inventory.

For instance, say you’re selling enterprise security software and a large existing client is starting to explore the Internet of Things (IoT). However, the customer doesn’t have a strategy for securing these new devices. Work closely with the customer to help them develop their IoT strategy, including the integrated tools, resources, and training their organization will need to tackle and manage this technology trend. Invest the time in educating your customer beyond how your specific solution can help them and connect them with technology partners and other customers who have encountered similar challenges. Show you’re willing to invest in the relationship in a way that benefits the customer first and then your bottom line.

“Who” Matters More than “What”

Once you’ve defined the value you can offer to targeted accounts, focus on who within those accounts will receive and appreciate the value you’ll offer and can move the needle for your business.

While you may initially believe executives control all the purchasing power and therefore warrant the greatest attention, remember every organization is different. Map and understand the organizational chart and reach out to contacts in a value-driven way. Seek out customer leaders who are under pressure to produce results and listen to them. Document their needs and concerns and then start an active discussion about how you can help to solve them. Become the trusted provider that offers up compelling content that informs decisions they’re trying to make and frankly, warrants their time and consideration. Connect them to other customers or experts you know who’ve faced a similar problem in years past. In other words, don’t sell to them. Provide value to them.

In the ABM world, marketers and their sales partners who can provide Aspirin when headaches occur are much more likely to build the deeper, mutually beneficial relationships all B2B brands are after. Now that’s a winning ABM strategy and one we can all get behind.

Sanjay Castelino is vice president of marketing at Spiceworks.


Related Articles:

Why B2B Brands Are Focused on ABM

One Size Doesn’t Fit All in ABM

Full Adoption of ABM Not There Yet: Outsell Report


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