With all the buzz around “personalization 2.0” and customer experience in 2017, account-based marketing best practices have received a lot of recent attention. In fact, if you regularly follow this blog, you have probably seen some of our recent posts detailing:
- How to implement an account-based marketing approach
- How to build a better account-based marketing tech stack
- The five most important account-based marketing metrics to measure
- Four account-based marketing techniques to try
Though a growing number of businesses have begun exploring account-based marketing best practices for small-to-mid-sized businesses, most organizations today focus on enterprise accounts primarily because the potential deal size from larger corporate entities can be a game-changer for your business.
However, potential spend is not the only reason account-based marketers should focus their sights on enterprise-level accounts. Here is how an enterprise-level account-based marketing strategy can prove to be effective for your business:
- Enterprise accounts have better customer lifetime value. The initial deal a target enterprise account signs with your business is often just the tip of the iceberg. Getting their foot in your door is the hard part, but once they are in, finding opportunities to cross-sell and upsell to other departments, regions, or business lines can make their overall spend balloon up and bring a lasting customer lifetime value that smaller companies just cannot match.
- They stick around for longer (if your product meets their needs). Making decisions at the enterprise-level can be a tedious process (and quite the annoying one for an impatient salesperson). However, long turnaround times on decisions can play into your favor once you bring the client on board. Provided your solution meets the company’s needs, enterprise-level clients are far less likely to explore options from your competitors when they know making a switch would mean navigating a lot of internal red tape.
- Frankly, they expect white-glove treatment. Like it or not, if a company knows they are spending more with you than your average client, they will likely expect a level of attention above and beyond what you typically offer to clients.
With that in mind, consider seven enterprise-level account-based marketing best practices to help your team succeed at every stage of the ABM process.
#1. Make Data-Driven Decisions on High-Value Accounts
The first step in any account-based marketing strategy centers around actually identifying the right accounts you plan to target. The impulse reaction for many is to choose targets based on where you think opportunity lies. That anecdotal information can come from anywhere within your organization. Your sales team might believe a certain enterprise account has big spending potential just waiting to be unlocked. Your founder might feel like when he or she initially developed your product or solution, it was built with a certain company in mind as the ideal customer. Even you — the marketer — may be susceptible to making decisions about target accounts based on perceived needs or engagement.
However, for an account-based marketing strategy to truly succeed, you should generally ignore that anecdotal feedback and instead focus on using your customer’s data to identify the right target accounts. The most informed way to find companies positioned to get the most value from your solution (and therefore spend more) is to first analyze your current portfolio of customers to identify the key demographic and behavioral commonalities among your current top spenders. With that information in hand, finding the right prospects is simply a matter of seeking those same traits in other organizations on your lead list.
Remember that the initial deal size is not necessarily what is most important. Instead, focus on customers in your portfolio with the highest customer lifetime values as target accounts. While the initial deals may be smaller, the overall spend of these accounts over time has bigger potential.
#2. Insist on Alignment Between Sales and Marketing
Once you have created a short-list of these companies via your own data analysis, account-based marketers know that sign-off from the sales team is the next step in a successful ABM strategy. Why?
Simply put, sales and marketing absolutely need to work together hand-in-hand for an account-based marketing strategy to work. Think of it like an awesome beach volleyball duo. The marketing team is player one, who sets the spike for their partner, the sales team to score the point. If both players are not on the same page and focused on the same play, then neither one will have any success.
In this analogy, the ball is, of course, the target customer. Marketers put target accounts in the right position, priming them for the sale. However, they still need their sales partners in order to actually land the initial deal.
In the end, alignment between sales and marketing is a win-win-win for everyone involved. The two teams benefit through mutually-achieved goals. Customers stand to win the most through a cohesive brand experience. That great experience often leads to more deals courtesy of referrals.
#3. Get Your Entire Company Involved
While sales and marketing may be the two stars of your account-based marketing strategy, getting your entire company involved can often be the difference between hitting the goals you established and falling flat on your face. Think about it. The whole philosophy of account-based marketing centers on relationships. The goal of any successful ABM strategy is to focus the efforts of sales and marketing on creating a strong relationship with a key account in hopes of turning that relationship into a sale.
With that in mind, taking advantage of any relationships that exist among your company employees and target account can give you some serious leverage. Maybe a software engineer has a family friend working in marketing at your target account, or an executive assistant went to college with their director of sales. You will never know unless you ask. This is why it is a good idea to send a company-wide email mining for any existing relationships among your internal employees.
One other idea for getting everyone in your company involved is to engage the C-suite at your target company by having the CEO of your organization send a personal, one-to-one outreach to the target company’s CEO. Such a simple task could not take more than a few minutes to complete but goes a long way in establishing a successful relationship with your target account.
#4. Find Your Key Stakeholders and Market to Them Directly
Of course, it is unlikely that the CEO of your target account will be the one pulling the trigger on trying out your solution. Identifying the key stakeholders at your target account is a critical step in implementing a successful account-based marketing strategy. Doing so allows you to focus on creating a heavily personalized experience for the right people rather than a “catch-all” attempt at relating your content and campaigns to an entire organization.
A great way to understand this individualized personalization is to think of how pain points and motivations for using your solution vary based on a stakeholder’s title and team. If for example, you were marketing a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, the way you market that solution to a vice president of sales would be dramatically different than the way you market it to a chief marketing officer. For the sales leader, you may highlight the impact a solid CRM has on a salesperson’s ability to prioritize leads, execute deals faster, and improve conversions (thus increasing revenue). For a marketer, a CRM offers a different benefit, albeit with the same outcome. In marketing a CRM to a CMO, one would likely focus on the access marketing teams would have to robust customer data that could be leveraged to influence future campaign efforts.
Keep in mind that it is not just about what your message says, but also where you deliver that message. Engaging key stakeholders through the channels where they are most likely to see (and respond) to your messaging makes a huge difference in the success of your account-based marketing strategy. Social channels, in particular, should be a primary focus for you and your team as you start to explore the best ways to personalize your outreach to the individual.
#5. Personalize the Customer Experience from Top to Bottom
Think of personalization like glitter: once you put it out there, it should be bright, shiny, and literally everywhere. Targeting technology exists today allowing you to personalize everything from landing pages to recommended content like whitepapers, case studies, and webinars. If a stakeholder from your target company visits your website, he or she should feel as if the site caters exactly to his or her needs. Artificial intelligence has added a new layer to account-based marketing, allowing you to engage with site visitors in real-time through chatbots that can help answer important questions and get key contacts in touch with a salesperson if needed.
#6. Define Campaign Goals and Key Performance Metrics
Determining your end goal is an often overlooked aspect of account-based marketing. People think of the goal broadly as “convert target account into a new customer,” but without KPIs in place and key benchmarks along the road toward that goal, it is almost impossible to know whether you are on the right track or not. Sales and marketing alike should be setting weekly and monthly goals surrounding engagement and conversions. By defining and tracking those goals, your team knows when progress is made and can translate the strategies that got you there into actions for future ABM target accounts.
#7. Make Your Offer Readily Available
Finally, do not make the stakeholders at your target account have to hunt for an offer. Some salespeople and marketers think sharing an offer in the early stages of a new account-based marketing strategy turns off stakeholders and hurts the relationship. The reality is that both sides know from the get-go what it is you are after. No stakeholder thinks you are going through such a tremendous effort to create a great customer experience because you like their haircut. So, making it known what your team wants from the potential client (their business) and what is in it for them from the beginning gives you a basis for building an honest relationship based on mutual benefit.
Keep in mind that your offer does not necessarily need to be financial in nature (i.e. a sign-up cost or discount). Instead, make your offer service-based. Offer a value-add — like a consultation, audit, or demonstration — to their company free-of-charge. Doing so demonstrates your commitment to helping the client solve their problems while also allowing them to see your product in action, a key step in closing the deal.
Of course, every successful ABM best practice starts with the quality of your data. Therefore, to implement these best practices, it is wise to ensure your data is on point, accurate, clean, and enriched. To learn more about how ReachForce SmartForms can help you optimize your data and improve your impact on revenue, sign up for a free trial and get a demo today.