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Account based marketing strategy: choosing accounts for B2B programmes

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Over the last few years I’ve helped a number of B2B organisations devise and deliver against their account based marketing strategy. There’s no doubt ABM is a ‘hot topic,’ and ABM campaigns are a great way to drive pipeline for B2B organisations who operate on high-value, low-volume sales.

However, there really is a knack to choosing the best accounts to apply your account based marketing strategy to. Too often I hear “let’s target these companies because we’d like them as clients”. Wanting to sell to organisations doesn’t mean they want to buy from you, and – even if they do – that they’re ready to make such a purchase.

For your account based marketing strategy to be successful, account selection for campaigns needs to be both strategic and informed. Here’s some top tips on intelligent shortlisting:

1. Explore their company objectives

Enterprise organisations operate with clear strategic objectives working towards their ambition. In the current market, this is often directives such as digital transformation, data integration and consolidation, innovation development or international growth. As a vendor, you need to ensure that your proposition marries up with their business objectives, otherwise the likelihood of success reduces. For example, if you select accounts based on potential revenue opportunity, but you’re not aligned with their strategic objectives, you’re unlikely to get traction. 

A recent example of where we’ve seen success is aligning our client’s solution with the accounts that have a strategic objective their product or service supports. If there is no strategic imperative, you’ll be knocking on a very cold door. Where there’s alignment, it’s quite the opposite. 

So, how do you know? Research, research and more research. Look for:

  • Strategy documents covering their objectives
  • 5-year plans of the target organisations
  • Evidence of their stage of maturity against these long-term objectives

2. Profile the likely buyers within the organisation

Buyer profiles are brilliant for identifying good prospects and knowing how to approach them. Where to start? Your existing customer base. Who bought? What is their role and background? What type of person are they; language, approach to business, view on taking risk etc. We can then use this to inform your account based marketing strategy, looking for parallels during account selection.

Note: Be aware of each customer’s origin before choosing them to profile. Acquired clients, or those who come from sources such as personal networks may not be ideal examples of the ‘classic buyer’.

3. Look for tell-tale signs about their current situation

There are a number of ways you can gauge whether someone needs your solution or service. The best places to look will depend on what you’re selling, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. For example, if you’re selling a B2B technology solution and want to know what technologies possible targets are using, then look for specialist skills within their business. Based on skills within their IT function, it’s likely you’ll be able to build a picture of the solutions they have. Once you’ve got this information, consider whether their current situation means they’re likely to need, be ready or able to utilise your technology or service.

4. Consider why you’d be relevant to them

Taking into account all of the above, as well as potential revenue, headroom and existing account penetration consider whether they’re likely to actually need your solution or services and whether they’d be able to buy.

Depending on whether it’s a net new or existing account, consider possible contract lengths, budget restraints and whether the key buyers are likely to ‘get on’ with your sales team. This process isn’t necessarily designed to rule targets out, but more to highlight the accounts to target now versus those that need further qualification or should be revisited at a later date.

In summary, by qualifying targets for your account based marketing strategy thoroughly you can be smart in targeting the right organisations and there’s a far better chance you’ll deliver tangible results (ROI). Which is what we’re all after, right?

Next steps

For help with your account based marketing strategy and getting your next B2B ABM programme off the ground, contact us today or drop me an InMail: http://www.linkedin.com/in/amypwalker/.

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