When ABM originally hit the scenes, before it became the buzzword it is today, strategic ABM or high-value ABM was the norm, enabling organisations to land the biggest deals. Since then, light and programmatic ABM has opened ABM up beyond just the highest value deals to organisations everywhere.
If you do have your sights set on the big accounts, strategic ABM is undoubtedly the most effective approach, but it’s a tough cookie to crack. Generally, the bigger the account, the bigger the deal value, the bigger the decision-making unit, the bigger impact on the business, and with that comes an altogether more complex process. A longer buying cycle, tenders and more back and forth between decision-makers have meant that, though the rewards can be outstanding, it takes work.
Having taken many of our clients through this journey, and having secured £10 million+ deals through ABM, we know the challenges you’re likely to face and have learned a thing or two about how to go about things.
So, if you’re considering taking your ABM output up a notch, read on and let the Radishes take you through our top learnings.
ABM shouldn’t be either marketing or sales-led. It should be about making the buying process easier, and that takes teamwork.
In high-value ABM, where the DMU is often complex with multiple stakeholders, you don’t want to be muddying your message by having different departments contradicting one another. Nor do you want to repeat the same single point over and again.
Which is why it’s crucial to kit sales and marketing out with a collaborative message that offers relevant and contextual information at every point of contact. This makes your customer’s decision easier, boosting your chances of landing the account.
Defining your collaborative message is a process that requires discussion and compromise, so be sure to bring both your sales and marketing teams into the conversation as early as possible, and at the same time.
If you’re investing a lot of money into hand-picked individual accounts, naturally the stakes for each are much higher. With that in mind, give it all you’ve got. Use the most competent, knowledgeable and experienced sales and marketing staff to hand. Audit your environment, too. Ideally, they’ll have been based near the area for a while and can use their geographical knowledge to your advantage.
Most large new account opportunities come from existing relationships, and one of your first steps should be finding and identifying these relationships. By speaking to your sales staff and gaining their insights into these customers, you can identify the accounts where results aren’t just more likely to happen but to happen quickly, too.
These relationships are important for producing the best, most relevant content. They can define the influencers you use, as well as providing great case studies, proving how well you’ve worked together before.
In high-value ABM, the DMU can be huge. And as conversations between stakeholders, and departments continue, the decision process can become slow and complex for your customer.
So they won’t thank you for any extra complication. Keep your messaging as single-minded and digestible as possible, tailoring it for each persona’s needs. In this way, you’re positioning your organisation as the antithesis to the complication they’re already struggling with day-to-day.
Tackling the challenges your sales team face is key, and it helps to do so from an account-to-account perspective. Define and prioritise the roadblocks, narrowing them down to five or six key ones. This will leave you perfectly placed to address them.
How does a key strategic account view your brand? Perhaps you’re not seen as a strategic partner, or maybe you have a low share of wallet. By identifying these typical sales challenges, you’ll be better placed to overcome them and change the perception of the account for the better.
The larger, more strategic ABM accounts are often one-to-one, which gives you great scope for personalisation. At this level, you’re speaking to people with a great deal of influence but very little time, so you’ll need to own the conversation. This means:
Big deals take time, and if you’re using ABM you need to recognise it within your KPIs. Setting a longer, more realistic timescale is crucial to meeting your goals.
As is preaching good ABM habits among your marketing and sales teams. For example, the number of lead generation KPIs your teams may normally be set might not be operationally compatible with ABM. So, to align your strategy, consider more ABM-relevant KPIs, like the number of new conversations.
It might mean a big shift in operations, or a more subtle one, but it’s so important for achieving ABM success.
Sales and marketing alignment isn’t just critical at the beginning. Regular “Intelligence Loop” meetings where sales and marketing share account and contact insight collated remotely (e.g. marketing tracking) and directly (e.g. sales calls and meetings) will ensure you are continuously optimising activity.
Strategic ABM is a long-term strategy that takes time. While you’re waiting for the results, there’s no use putting all your eggs in one basket.
Which is why it’s important to run a broader, less specific campaign alongside it, with messaging and content that can help your sales and marketing teams convert other accounts that aren’t on your target list for ABM, as well as keeping your name front of mind.
At Digital Radish, we call this Aircover. It’s a practice that we recommend and execute within all our ABM campaigns, because it means our clients can enjoy consistent leads as they wait for that big payoff to roll in.
And last but not least…
If you choose it as your strategy, ABM needs to be adopted long-term – from engagement at the very beginning, right the way through the tender process. It’s designed to embody how you can help your prospective customer and so, to land that account, you need to embody it yourself. As with anything else, it’s all about commitment.
So, that’s our £10 million’s worth.
We truly believe in the power of ABM. To convert those top-level accounts and to unleash your brand’s hidden potential. If you’re interested, drop us a message at Renaye@digitalradish.co.uk, or check out some of our recent campaigns for a little more inspiration.