Nearly everything I’ve seen is about sending direct mail/email/ads to people at a Target Account or a specific person with a funny or unique catch. To me, that’s an end point of the ABM work.
It’s interesting to see the amount of “ABM” content out there that turns out to be a unique tactic to catch someone’s attention and get them to respond. There are times to engage in such tactics, but please understand that these are tactics to catch the attention of key buyer personas at an Account where reaching that person (or finding them) is difficult.
An experienced salesperson understands that the B2B sale requires several individuals. Databases like Hoover’s, DNB, DiscoverOrg, etc…simply help salespeople identify and reach some of those personas at a Company (Account). When I was in Sales, I would go through the following process:
- I’d look up Companies in my Territory, over $100MM in revenue, and look for the titles most likely to buy, based on experience.
- Then I’d try to find their direct dials, or at least their main location.
- Then I’d create a call down list for each major metro region.
- On paper, I’d call at least 3 times to get a meeting.
- I found that many would respond after the second voicemail. But if they did not, it was unlikely to ever hear back this time around.
Through this method, I was the Number 1 meeting maker at my firm for 2 years. With the advent of marketing automation, content marketing, and ABM&S, perhaps now I would be able to scale my process. Or have better conversations at the firms I really wanted to get into. Why? Because I might now be able to better identify the buying team and surround them online with my messaging. Perhaps I’d be able to discover previously anonymous people at each Account and encourage them to sign up for a newsletter.
Tip: Marketo’s Company Web and Web Activity Reports are still great tools for Territory work like this.
And I’m sure if Marketing were focused on Accounts back then, instead of leads, our efforts would have been at a higher ROI.
And if I had some of the fun tools like PFL, I could have sent unique direct mail pieces at a reasonable cost to attract attention better than just a cold call.
But that’s the tip of the spear.
The work of ABM is well before this type of targeted outreach. I’ve written about this earlier, and the real practitioners will talk about it. Anyone who has a presentation that only discusses fun campaigns for ABM isn’t doing real ABM. At a minimum, they confuse Strategy and Tactics, or they forgot the hard database work before the campaign.
Here are a few key tips for running Account Based Marketing Operations.
- Named or Target Accounts
- Ranking Accounts in some way, such as fit for product or propensity to buy
- Knowing the Buying Team Personas (see Challenger Customer) and being able to identify them in a database.
- Understanding the Coverage within each Account
- Marketing must source those missing names
- Marketing must focus effort on the Account Buying teams (people)
- Marketing/Sales Ops must help attach those People to the Accounts (Lead to Account Matching)
- Define MQLs vs. MQAs – when should a rep get involved with a Person or Account?
- Which systems and people nurture at which Stage? [Slides]
- How should offline and online efforts work? Account swarming online with Ads, emails, etc…and what messaging?
- STOP SPAMMING people with “From Rep” – whether it’s from Marketo or another tool, STOP IT. SDR cold emails = Cold Calls. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a good idea, most of the time it’s annoying.
- Named Account Cold Calling Lists are not ABM, and not Account Based Sales. No prep work, no marketing is involved and you’re results will be poor compared to a coordinated effort.
- Direct Mail’s intention in this is to get the attention differently if Email/Phone isn’t working or cannot be found. Stop using it as a bribe for a meeting. Recent examples include Bobble Heads (Engagio), and Vidyard custom video messages. Yet, this reminds me of the old fashioned gumption and hustle of salespeople. That’s cool. You should do that sometimes. Know how and when to do that.
Notice how the tactics are at the end of this list, when all of the other hard database work is done.