How to Build & Execute a Strategic ABM Approach

June 14, 2020 |

INTRODUCTION

As discovered in our “Introduction to Account-Based Marketing & Concept” guide, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a popular, and effective concept adopted by many Marketers. Despite this, not all ABM programs are a success. To guide you on your journey for a successful ABM program, we have put together our top tips and experience to help you plan, build, and execute an ABM program that meets your needs.

Once you have planned, built, and executed your campaign, it is important to measure and understand the success. To find out the best approaches to measuring your ABM program please check out our third guide in this series “Post-execution: Measuring, Optimizing and Maintaining your Concrete ABM Pipeline“.

CONTENT

PART ONE

THE 7 STEP APPROACH TO BUILDING & EXECUTING AN INTEGRATED ABM PROGRAM

PART TWO

THE 8 MAIN ABM STRATEGIES

X

PART ONE — The 7 Step approach to building & executing an integrated ABM program

STEP ONE: FINE-TUNE YOUR GOALS & STRATEGY

The first stage of an Account-Based Marketing campaign would be to define expectations, goals, KPIs of ABM at the organizational level with relevant stakeholders. With the set of agreed objectives and goals, the marketing team can portray all the necessary campaign efforts that are needed to reach the goals.

According to “The SiriusDecisions Marketing Planning Process”, in order to define the marketing goals, you need to understand and agree with stakeholders on corporate goals, sales goals, product goals, budget, and services goals.

COMMON GOALS

To give you some examples of the goals you should include as part of the objectives of the ABM program, here are a few most common goals adapted by the marketers.

  • Successfully launching a new product
  • Executing a competitive takeout
  • Building market share in an existing segment
  • Getting more value from existing customers
  • Entering new markets, verticals, or segments
  • Targeting strategic named accounts

If goals are not aligned at the organizational level, mainly with core stakeholders such as Marketing and Sales, there is a high chance that ABM will fail. Thus, this step also gives you a valuable opportunity to involve the entire company in its ABM program and align key sectors, for example applying “smarketingto understand how Marketing can cooperate with Sales in the most effective way.

Smarketing is a term that refers to orchestrate Marketing and Sales through harmonious and periodic communication, aiming mutual goals, strategies, and activities alignment. For example, to define the buying persona, according to Bethany Fagan from PandaDoc. While Sales know who is motivated to buy in the first place and why Marketing understands the industry and who could be potentials buyers. Therefore, a valuable definition would come for a combination of marketing researches and updated insights from sales. We at S2M, have the expertise and tools to precisely assist on your organizational fine-tune.

STRATEGY

In order to choose the right strategy for you, you must take into consideration your available resources and the size of our team, as well as the factors that contributed to setting the marketing goals.  

The four main categories of accounts selection you can consider and ways to approach ABM are:

Choosing your category is also a matter of scope and value. Note that the 1:1 ABM, ABM Lite, and Programmatic ABM focus on nurture accounts, on the other hand, the Bolt-on ABM aims the key decision-makers, targeting engagement with the entire buyer committee regardless the deal size. In other words, the Bolt-on ABM category intends to accelerate your demand generation and conversion rate, while the 3 other categories nurse strategic accounts with most revenue generation potential through personalized approaches.

STEP TWO: IDENTIFY & PRIORITIZE YOUR TARGETS AND ASSESS BUYERS’ NEEDS

After setting the goals and choosing the right strategy, you must identify, select, and prioritize the target accounts and the ideal buyer personas fitting your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

The selection of the target accounts should coincide with the selection of the ABM strategy mentioned in Step One.

Now that you have a clear picture of the target accounts and the buyer persona, it’s time to assess the buyer’s needs and define the scope of overall campaign efforts. In order to make this actionable, you must identify the buyer persona’s fundamental business challenges/needs/interests, and how your product portfolio addresses them.

To facilitate this stage, mapping your target’s campaign needs is recommended to further define your Ideal Customer Profile and the buyer persona.

Although sometimes used correlatively, Buyer Persona and Ideal Customer Profile have different meanings and nuances. ICP is a general identification at the beginning of your sales pipeline of companies and decision-makers which fits your service or solution. While, a buyer persona is to deeply understand your buyer characteristics, such as behavior and professional experience, giving a roadmap of how to achieve a superior relation and communication in all stages of your sales pipeline.

If you are interested in getting more in-depth insight into Targeting, please check out our three-part targeting guide.

STEP THREE: DEFINE YOUR CAMPAIGN

The next step would be to determine campaign scope, define steps, and asset design based on the buyer personas. Having a distinguished campaign scope and steps is vital, as running numerous campaigns, you must prioritize and rationalize the campaign approach.

Nonetheless, at this stage, you must define the campaign performance metrics and KPIs that were agreed amongst the stakeholders of the ABM campaign.

SiriusDecisions emphasizes the importance of defining a campaigning hierarchy at this stage to “rationalize the campaign approach against the organization’s different buyer personas”.

X

STEP FOUR: CAMPAIGN REFINING & PROGRAM PLANNING

CAMPAIGN REFINING

The objective of this step is to refine the campaign based on market, industry, target, persona, etc. and define the indicators to be used for performance measures. Questions you should be asking are;

  • Does your campaign have clear and rational campaign segmentation based on different buyer personas?
  • What are the quantifiable program goals?
  • Does your budget and measurement plans require adjustment to reflect the final campaign targets and scope before it goes live?

According to leadspace “working on this step carefully allows you to create personalized and consistent awareness, avoiding randomness campaigns within an entire organization.”

PROGRAM PLANNING

Campaigns are further segmented to different programs with different objectives and initiatives to execute.

The program planning step should aim to design adequate program strategy and content / asset designs for different types of programs. The program planning phase should consist of a timeline of program execution, central and regional campaign elements, and different program metrics.

According to SiriusDecisions, there are 4 main program families:

  1. Reputation
    • Target evangelization
    • Increase awareness
  2. Demand creation
    • “acquire, engage or accelerate demand”
  3. Sales enablement  
    • Progress opportunities
    • Accelerate pipeline
    • Navigate prospect’s buying cycle
    • Engage with customers / potential buyers
  4. Market intelligence
    • Gathering information on buying audiences, markets, competitors & their internal audience

SiriusDecisions highlights that today there is no standard buying cycle, thus it is vital to set flexible programs with no automatic base, which will bring interesting, updated, and dynamic information coming from real-time data and buyer signals.

ABM programs must be more adaptive and combine account and buyer information with technology, such as Artificial Intelligence to be prepared for the quick changes in the purchasing behavior and market demands. Thus, drawing expert mechanisms and refined programs ready to provide personalized content, fresh answers, and adaptable solutions for the different customer needs in the buyer cycle.

STEP FIVE: CHANNEL SELECTION

Depending on the buyer persona, the means of communication should differ as you’re proactively reaching out to your best-fit targets to communicate the right messages and initiate the engagement. Strategically selecting the appropriate channels and harmonizing the messages delivered to the target is important.

Some of the commonly used channels are:

STEP SIX: EXECUTE CAMPAIGNS AND BEGIN SALES OUTREACH

At this stage, the campaign finally goes live to generate brand awareness and engage with decision-makers at your target accounts, setting the stage for more effective sales conversations.

Along with the marketing campaigns, your sales representatives also participate in the outreach by using more traditional methods of engagement such as making phone calls and emails. Due to this, it is vital for sales and marketing to align on regular basis to validate the understanding of the scope of the campaign, which products to cover, and what sales enablement initiatives are involved. During this stage, it is important to harmonize the action and effort between the marketing and sales team to spark interests from the targeted accounts.

At S2M, we dedicate our time and effort to assist your marketing teams and sales teams to engage with your most desired Key Decision Makers. During the Account-Based Marketing execution, there are many tasks that must be coordinated and marketers and the sales teams don’t always have time to carry out this traditional engagement. Our autonomous services help your marketing and sales team to free up their time to focus on other core activities.

STEP SEVEN: POST-EXECUTION

Once the campaigns go live, the resources allocated to the campaign team must still be committed to ongoing sales enablement activities. On a regular basis, campaign efforts must be evaluated, measure the effectiveness, and level of optimization to be modified if necessary. Recurring alignments between sales and marketing is necessary to share feedback, track the campaign performance, and assess the performance against the goals. Such evaluation and alignment will play a pivotal role in the development of future campaigns.

In Part Three of this Guide Series “Post-execution: Measuring, Optimizing, and Maintaining your Concrete ABM Pipeline we’ll elaborate more on the KPIs that you should consider, as well as how S2M services assist you in alignment with different reporting formats to bridge the gap between your marketing and sales teams.

x

PART TWO — The 8 main ABM strategies

Once the campaigns go live, the resources allocated to the campaign team must still be committed to ongoing sales enablement activities. On a regular basis, campaign efforts must be evaluated, measure the effectiveness, and level of optimization to be modified if necessary. Recurring alignments between sales and marketing is necessary to share feedback, track the campaign performance, and assess the performance against the goals. Such evaluation and alignment will play a pivotal role in the development of future campaigns.

Get in Touch

Whether you’re considering a Lead Generation trial program or ready to run ABM at scale, discover how we can help you get to results faster.