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Account Based Marketing can be a bit of a paradox. On its face, ABM is designed to leverage technology to help your organization scale. At the same time, marketers know that personalization of messaging at a larger scale can be a huge challenge. An account-based program requires hyper-personalization to work, otherwise you’re wasting resources at a lackluster attempt to build personal relationships and even worse, hurting your brand.
But that doesn’t mean that ABM is bad for business. In fact, once marketers and the sales teams they’ll be aligning with (more on that later) understand that accepted methodologies surrounding demand generation can be adapted to make best use of ABM, the case for making the switch becomes more obvious.
ABM … Where to start?
The first place to start when building a business case for ABM is in the mirror. The funnel has served marketers well for decades, but are you really taking an honest look at your conversion metrics and their relevance to your overall demand gen results? Marketers love numbers – the bigger the better. It’s not inherently wrong to salivate over views, clicks and converts; after all, that’s marketing at work. But once you talk to sales and see that volume doesn’t correlate to quality, you start to get the full picture.
The more accounts that fall to your sales teams to manage, the more development reps, account managers and sales engineers you’re forced to hire just to handle the sheer volume of low quality leads in the funnel. That’s a wildly inefficient system, especially when you have no way of guaranteeing that those leads even resemble your ideal buyers. So how can you communicate the importance of an ABM solution when, on the surface at least, your numbers may look impressive enough to maintain the status quo?
For businesses that fall in the sweet spot of 5 to 100 targeted accounts per rep, ABM allows for scale without sacrificing customization. It saves your organization from making volume-based hires because it focuses directly on the customers that are actually going to move the needle for your business: simply put, it shines a light on your best ones.
Before account based marketing, the net needed to be cast too wide in order to grow the customer database month after month. But with ABM, you can still grow that database while you create engagement within a much narrower funnel. You just have to do the one thing that makes marketers shiver – you have to consult with your sales team.
Not just “part” of the funnel
In ABM, marketing doesn’t just claim part of the funnel – it co-owns the entire thing. That means every department must have a tight relationship with marketing. Siloing your marketing and sales departments is a recipe for disaster within ABM. How can your marketers know everything about your most qualified prospects and their behaviors without detailed reports from sales?
Join forces and you’ll see why the two need each other. Sales shouldn’t create target account lists for their eyes only; they need the touch of a marketing team to expand on the intelligence and create 360-degree buyer personas and customer profiles. Once you’ve identified your best buyers, marketing plays a huge role in engaging these individuals to build trust and ultimately learn more information to better serve them.
You should always set your organization up for success by allowing your best people to do their jobs most efficiently. ABM forces businesses to create inter-departmental harmony or else the whole system breaks down. Scale isn’t something to be afraid of within ABM because your organization is moving as one; you’ll still be growing your database, but you’ll be doing so with highly targeted customers whom you know a lot about and whom will be most responsive to your continuing messaging efforts. You no longer have a basic marketing plan with ABM, you have one all-encompassing customer acquisition strategy that happens to be led by the marketing division.
Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security by big conversion numbers that only look good on paper. Go after the customers that will make a real difference by fostering long-lasting relationships based on strategic messaging strategies aided by account based marketing. Without ABM, volume is just noise.
Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD. He founded the company in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional grassroots marketing efforts through the use of cloud based marketing solutions including marketing automation and CRM. In 2014 Gray created LeadMD Marketplace, an online learning platform to help marketers increase their MROI by providing concise, task-based learning in short sessions.