Higher revenue, less time spent chasing down dead-end leads and shorter sales cycles. These are just a few of the many benefits that account-based marketing (ABM) delivers, and salespeople can get even more out of it with  tools and platforms to drive relationships. With this juicy collection of benefits, ABM is a salesperson’s dream.

Regardless of the clear advantages, less than 40 percent of surveyed businesses use ABM as a primary marketing strategy. It’s probably because so many sales and marketing teams still have no idea how ABM works, while other organizations don’t know its benefits. I want to fix these problems with a look two things: what’s involved in this strategy and the reasons why your organization needs ABM.

What is ABM and How Does it Work?

“Account-based marketing is more targeted and personalized versus spray and pray, where you’re just trying to capture anyone in your net. You’re being very specific about who you want to talk with, and it’s a way for sales and marketing to align on the target.”

 Meagen Eisenberg, CMO, MongoDB  

ABM is a sharply-focused marketing strategy that involves identifying and pursuing hand-chosen accounts that align with your business objectives. It involves collaboration between sales and marketing teams to zero in on the customers and prospects that are most likely to invest in your products.

The key distinguishing feature of ABM is its personalized approach. So instead of casting a wide net, sales and marketing collaborate to identify “ideal customers.” Then, they develop customized campaigns according to customer-preferred communication channels and buying cycles. Megan Golden of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions outlines seven key steps involved in ABM:

1) Make a List of Valuable Accounts

The most important step in ABM is to carefully review your customer base to identify accounts that stand out as ideal customers. Your top priority accounts will likely be the ones that are most profitable and have long-term potential.

2) Identify Key Players with Each Account

You need consensus among account stakeholders to secure a final purchasing decision. ABM helps you achieve this goal by linking the concerns and requirements of key decision-makers to company objectives to stimulate buying interest.

3) Develop Targeted Campaigns

Building a nurturing relationship with your account and contacts is the cornerstone of successful ABM. So, you need campaigns that resonate with the needs and interests of your accounts. And don’t forget to personalize and align your campaigns with the account’s buying cycle.

4) Determine Preferred Communication Channels

You need to take the time to determine which channels your target accounts are most comfortable using to engage with your business. These might be email, direct mail or events like trade shows. While you figure this out, remember that channels may vary based on industry or a contact’s specific role.

5) Develop a Strategy

Clarifying roles and responsibilities for sales and marketing staff is necessary for successful ABM. Specify exactly which tactics they’ll use to stimulate interest and motivate the account to take action. Remember that account contacts have different priorities, so keep those priorities in mind in choosing sales and marketing tactics.

6) Launch Your Campaigns

Now that you’ve determined who performs tasks, start engaging with the account using email, special events and other techniques. And capitalize on personal relationships during the outreach process to maximize results.

7) Measure Your Results

The ultimate goal of ABM is to move accounts through the procurement process. So remember to focus on the account as a whole as opposed to individual contacts when tracking results. Track total opportunities, closed opportunities and dollars generated for each account.

Why Does Your Organization Need ABM?

ABM is one of few strategies that offers specific benefits to sales and marketing teams. By fostering collaboration, reducing costs and boosting customer satisfaction, ABM provides a solution that is the best of both worlds for sales VPs and marketing directors. That said, consider eight reasons why your organization needs ABM.

1) You See Impressive ROI

“Four out of five B2B marketers believe that the ROI of ABM is higher than that of other marketing initiatives. Further, only 3% of B2B marketers found the ROI of account-based marketing to be lower than the ROI of broad-based marketing. On the other side, 44% of ABM practitioners said their ABM investment returns were much higher than returns with previous marketing approaches.”

– Jared Dodson, ABM Leader and Marketing Strategist at Lenati

As the owner or marketing director of a growing business, you want proven solutions that yield high ROI. Research shows that ABM produces a higher ROI than other marketing strategies, and nearly half of surveyed marketers saw returns “much higher” returns than those from other marketing strategies.

2) Your Sales Cycles Shorten

A shorter sales cycle is one of the things sales loves about ABM. The average B2B sales cycle is 90 days, which is frustrating to sales representatives. ABM shortens the sales cycle because you identify and nurture decision makers from the start. This way, sales professionals don’t have to waste time determining if a prospect is a good fit for their business model.

3) Your Teams Engage More with Key Accounts

Statistics show that engaged customers move forward with purchases and become repeat buyers, all the while becoming less likely to stray from your business in favor of a competitor. When you use ABM, you can easily track responses from targeted accounts and deliver personalized communications based on their response to your campaigns. This sophisticated level of engagement moves customers through the sales funnel and makes them likely to invest in your products.

4) You Waste Less Time

Business owners don’t like wasting time and resources. ABM’s targeted style lets you accomplish more with less because:

  • Your salespeople spend less time chasing poor quality leads
  • Sales representatives can convert and upsell more key contacts
  • You spend less time measuring and tracking goals with a tighter collection of accounts

Business analytics and metrics for strategic decisions based on insights, data mining and modeling technology, analyst businessman working on computer in office

5) Your Sales-Marketing Alignment Improves

“To break down walls between sales and marketing, ABM is pretty close to a silver bullet in that it aligns programs’ dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales team cares about…It’s most effective when deployed as part of a comprehensive set of targeting strategies.”

Dave Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn Solutions

Sales-marketing alignment can bolster revenue by as much as 208%. Unfortunately, most organizations have a disconnect between sales and marketing teams. Shari Johnston, Principal of Digby, refers to ABM as “The Secret Sauce to Sales and Marketing Alignment,” because working together on key accounts helps reduce finger pointing between departments.

6) You Build Trust Among Customers and Prospects

When your sales strategy reflects the needs and desires of key accounts and contacts, you earn the trust of those customers. You’ll also build authenticity and establish your company as the go-to source for personalized solutions.

7) Your Team Members Buy into ABM

“We were able to partner and deliver quick wins on our pilot programs with some of my top reps which built trust and proved out ABM’s ability to achieve an impressively high ROI. Given the success, we were able to quickly scale and extend ABM across the entire Enterprise sales team from technology, processes, tactics, and headcount resources. The Enterprise sales team is now sold on ABM.” 

Dan Lovette – VP Sales OpenDNS (now CIsco)

Employees are reluctant to buy into the latest sales and marketing strategies. But ABM’s ability to shorten sales cycles and deliver “quick wins” makes it easy for both sales and marketing professionals to support and trust.

8) Customer Satisfaction is Higher

You and your employees aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of ABM. With ABM’s personalized interactions, prospects and key accounts have more enjoyable and fruitful customer experiences, too. They appreciate the time your team members take to understand their goals and buying cycles, so they’re that much more likely to refer friends and colleagues to you.

Why Your Organization Needs ABM

Account-based marketing is cost-effective for organizations that want high-value accounts and increased customer satisfaction. And at the same time, it naturally aligns sales and marketing teams to improve interdepartmental collaboration. By offering a variety of benefits to sales and marketing teams, ABM is a win-win solution for organizations of all sizes.