A crucial step in developing account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns is identifying the list of best-fit accounts for sales and marketing teams to pursue.
While there are a number of technical tools available for doing this, an easy way to get started is for an organization’s marketing and sales teams to work together to build the target list.
In fact this is the first question we ask when working with clients considering ABM campaigns. We talk about how much they know about the target accounts their sales teams have been going after. In some cases our marketing clients say “a lot,” and in other cases, “not so much.” The answer to this question gives everyone clues on how much work marketing teams will have down the road.
If the marketing organization isn’t aware of how its sales teams are operating, that means the team could be relegated to the task of order-taking. Without clear alignment, it’s not likely the group will have prepared the kinds of marketing and sales tooling that speaks to the concerns that sales’ prospects are having.
Which means that sales teams may approach marketing with one-off requests for specific types of case studies, testimonials, sell sheets, brochures, etc. that can address the interests of specific clients they are courting. Not always the most efficient use of an organization’s marketing resources.
On the other hand, organizations that have come to an agreement on their target accounts can proactively build sales tooling designed to attract the awareness, interest and conversion of specific target accounts.
In the past we’ve talked about specific tools organizations can use to identify target accounts and customer lists. But at a higher level, there are also some steps organizations can take to bring efforts into focus:
1. Targeting Sales Agencies with ABM Campaigns.
Many organizations use sales organizations to sell their products, and these can be ready-made contacts for ABM campaigns. Say a company has dozens of sales agencies around the country selling its products. Manufacturers can target their agents with a promotional campaign about their brands and products, making sure to provide appropriate sales tooling for those products.
The idea is to view sales agencies as customers and deploy market efforts specifically within this channel. The manufacturer’s goal should be to keep the brand and products top of mind for these sales agents, and making sure they’re in touch with their manufacturer contact and are aware of the aspects of the product that will benefit their customers.
Managing these efforts also can be easy, if it takes place through regional sales territory managers that are already working with sales agents. The benefit of this type of approach is that it makes the selling process easier for sales agents who gain the knowledge to present specific solutions to their customers in more situations. It’s not necessary to target all sales agencies with this approach: manufacturers should select those agents determined to be most likely to adopt the new products being launched or be more open to using sales tooling and messaging strategies with their customers.
2. Employ the Company’s Customer Relationship Management System.
Another basic approach to building a list of target accounts is combing the organization’s own CRM program for a list of accounts and the key contacts at those accounts. This approach is especially promising when targeting enterprise organizations, which usually have a number of individuals involved in the buying decision. On the other hand it’s not as appropriate for transactional type purchases.
Great examples of the types of sales that merit this type of approach include specified purchases where there are numerous professionals that will be involved in the purchase decision. Consider building construction where builders, distributors, contractors and architects all may play a role in specifying certain building products. The goal for building product manufacturers should be to influence all of these individuals at the same point in time, when they are specifying the product. The key is identifying and targeting these individuals at the same time and reaching out to them with integrated messaging strategies. The timing is important so that the organization can make best advantage of existing relationships and trust built up between builders, contractors and their distributors. The loyalty between these groups can be highly effective at getting buyers to consider new products and even flipping specifiers to different brand solutions addressed by ABM efforts.
Ultimately both of these high-level ABM targeting approaches can be quite effective at narrowing the focus for sales and marketing organizations, and giving them strong executional starting points.
We can also help organizations looking for specific starting points, channel strategies and creative approaches. Please give us a call to discuss opportunities or start a conversation about putting ABM to work for your brand.