You may think you know your audience, but taking the time to develop buyer personas is one of the most effective ways you can prove it.
The time of one-to-many, “spray and pray” marketing is over. “Blasting” the same message to many different types of decision-makers (technical and functional) just doesn’t work; people ignore the messages that don’t resonate with them, and there’s nothing worse than the “one-size-fits-all” strategies of the past. The trend nowadays for marketers is to move towards the hyper-tailored; the custom-made, bespoke, one-on-one interaction that engages prospects to move down the sales funnel at their own pace.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B marketing that targets companies likely to be a “best-fit” for the software offering. However, I have known many a software vendor that cannot explain why certain companies are part of their ABM-named accounts list! Developing a list of accounts to target needs to be done in a well-thought out manner, and should be done based on a specific set of criteria. And of course, sales and marketing need to be in 100% alignment when it comes to this.
Not sure how to get started? Here are five strategies that can help make your ABM outreach program effective:
1. Initiate market intelligence
You simply cannot conduct account-based marketing if you don’t have a deep understanding of the accounts you want to target. As mentioned, you need to start by selecting the named accounts for a reason (growth rate, a high potential number of users, the prestige that the account would bring if they were a client). From there, market intelligence needs to be initiated. What is the market share this company holds? Who are their clients? What business trends may be affecting their industry? Have they recently been approached about a merger or acquisition? What new projects are they funding? What does their partner ecosystem look like? What triggers can be identified that may tip them towards the purchase of your solution? All of these questions should be addressed when conducting market intelligence, and given to the sales agent working on the account. The sales agent can then craft the perfect pitch to begin the outreach process.
2. Profile influencers and decision-makers
Understanding who plays what role in the decision-making cycle of a company is key to knowing who to target within the account, how, when and why. Don’t neglect the influencers! They are an important part of the process, and are often the first people in-line to define user pain-points within an account.
They can also help you get your foot in the door with the right decision-makers when it comes time to scheduling a meeting or a demonstration (or both).
Of course, collecting information on the right contacts (including details on job roles and email opt-ins) is an essential part of the ABM process. But, with GDPR in full effect in the EU, you need to be very careful about how this data is collected and stored.
3. Create great content
Client testimonials, case studies and success stories of companies within the same industries as your ABM list is an essential marketing tool. Every potential buyer is going to ask themselves, “What’s in it for me? How can this solution help me?” Your content needs to address that, and telling the story of how you have helped similar customers is the easiest way to get your key marketing messages across. Make sure to mix up your content delivery method — you shouldn’t create all text all the time. Explainer videos that are short and to-the-point can be a great way to get your value proposition across to prospects that have not yet been exposed to your offer.
4. Social sell
When it comes to outreach, social selling is a non-negligible tactic. In fact, LinkedIn states that:
- 78% of social sellers outsell their peers who don’t use social media for selling
- Sales professionals who use LinkedIn for social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their sales quota than sales professionals who don’t use LinkedIn for social selling
- Sales professionals that use LinkedIn for social selling create 45% more sales opportunities
In ABM marketing, not only can you reach out directly to your target prospects on social media platforms with personalized InMail messages, you can also run online ad campaigns geared specifically towards them. Social selling takes a great deal of “social listening,” which means you need to get to know your prospects as people by monitoring their online activity. What groups are they part of? What comments do they post? What is important to them? Establishing “social” relationships with your ABM prospects will help you better understand the needs of your potential customers, which should in turn help you increase your sales closing rate.
5. Outbound telemarketing
Outbound telemarketing is often neglected as an ABM tactic, but it doesn’t have to be the black sheep of marketing outreach programs. When done well, cold calling can actually initiate high-level, in-depth, one-on-one discussions with the right people within your target accounts. It’s best to conduct spot-basis telemarketing in conjunction with other tactics — promoting an event, or as part of a content marketing program for example.
As sales and marketing becomes more aligned, ABM will take on even greater importance. But being effective at ABM marketing takes time and the proper preparation to understand the accounts and buyer personas you are targeting.