B2B organizations outside of the tech sector could learn a few important lessons from those inside the tech sector when it comes to the value of Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
This demand generation tactic requires that marketing and sales teams be aligned and work together to identify an organization’s top-tier prospects and then build relationships with key client contacts using a combination of research, creative vision, networking and problem solving.
The ITSMA (formerly the Information Technology Services Marketing Association) claims to have created ABM a little over a decade ago as a way to get complex tech products considered by organizations that hadn’t considered them in the past.
Since then, many tech organizations have championed ABM because it excelled in a sector where buying decisions don’t rest with one or two C-level officers but with a “buying posse” of team members weighing the pros and cons of major acquisitions to make decisions. Since ABM focuses on forming relationships with individuals across different divisions of an organization, it’s a natural fit for supporting more collaborative decisions.
ABM also has the unique ability to disrupt established buying routines or habits, making it valuable for upstarts or underdogs in markets like tech where one or two brands reign supreme.
With its focus on forming more relationships at fewer prospects, ABM works well for complex tech sales with long sales cycles and that represent significant investments. It also works well for markets dominated by a short-list of market leaders, where share growth can be a difficult proposition for market newcomers.
Outside of the tech sector, many organizations still depend on more conventional approaches to generating demand, such as broad-reach marketing: or targeting one or two decision makers across a multitude of prospective customers.
While the method can still work, there are situations when it doesn’t. With today’s more collaborative B2B buying process, for example, broad-reach efforts begin to feel scattered and lightweight in an environment where other organizations are ready to roll up their sleeves and problem-solve with top prospects.
Not Just for Tech Suppliers Anymore
The point is that B2B tech companies are by no means the only organizations dealing with complex purchasing considerations, a long buying cycle, lopsided market share and costly acquisitions.
Consider building materials like drywall, windows, and exterior cladding, for example, products that are often specified by architects. Or industrial sector purchases that are specified by engineers. In many cases, architects rely on existing relationships with building materials suppliers when they write specifications. The same can be said for specifiers in the industrial sector, and more. That means competitors aiming to displace an existing supplier need to disrupt the status quo with a focused, relationship-centered approach to build sales.
ABM does this by quickly establishing rapport, building relationships across the organization, and then working with these professionals to solve problems and bring solutions. Virtually any marketer faced with the need to displace competitors in a complex purchase can use ABM successfully.
Implementing ABM methodologies can be time-consuming and even costly. But if used correctly, the investment is worthwhile. According to a recent Forbes article, 97% of marketers say ABM has resulted in higher ROIs than other marketing initiatives.
Believing that ABM is only for tech companies is just one of many misconceptions organizations still harbor about ABM. We’ll debunk other common myths about the methodology in next week’s post.
Organizations interested in kicking off or setting up a strategic ABM campaign are invited to contact us for details or an initial consultation.