Does this sales strategy sound familiar to you or someone in your organization: You build a list of prospective companies. Search for decision makers. Find contact information. Send emails. Find new contact information. Dodge gatekeepers. Voicemail, voicemail, voicemail. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Fortunately, some marketers and salespeople are recognizing the shortcomings of traditional business development and sales methods as evident by studies which suggest that only 2% of all cold calls result in an appointment.

Today’s buyers hold the power to shut out or let in whomever they deem worthy. And so it takes a different approach to create a dialogue. That approach is Account-Based Marketing.

The clearest definition of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) comes from Engagio. They write, “Account-Based Marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement by focusing efforts at the account level rather than the lead level.”

Translation: In order to attract the right customers, B2B brands must spend less time compiling a laundry list of target names and spend more time comprehending the issues and challenges that face a smaller set of prospective accounts. They must prioritize lead quality over lead quantity.

For example, if you manufacture high-end faucets, stop targeting and cold calling every architectural and design firm with cookie cutter literature or sample offers. Instead, identify a select few firms, research their most pressing business challenges and opportunities and tailor targeted offers that address what’s most important to them in order to establish yourself as a trusted business partner.

Because at the end of the day, salespeople, marketers and business leaders alike don’t want more leads. They want more business.

But before diving head first into an ABM approach, make sure it’s right for your business. Companies who have shorter sales cycles and higher customer turnover may not be suitable for an ABM strategy.  On the flip side, if you have a longer sales cycle (such as getting specified by architects, designers or engineers), sell a premium product or your service is more consultative than turnkey, then an ABM strategy would be appropriate. Evaluate your business model, sales cycle and customer makeup to understand where the opportunities are in your business development efforts and if the ABM activities make sense.

Here are the best practices to follow to create a successful ABM program:

  • Define your infrastructure. Comprehend the appropriate tools and resources you’ll need to manage an ABM program. What is the role of your CRM, marketing automation and other technology platforms in an ABM environment? Equally as important are the people: Determine who the key players are on your ABM team and define their responsibilities across your insight gathering, content creation and lead generation needs.
  • Profile your ideal customer. Consider the “look-alike” method. Take inventory of your best existing customers by evaluating your type of relationship, profitability, growth potential, ease to work with and any other attributes. Then, think about the commonalities of your customers and identify new accounts that share those characteristics. This can include shared traits across an account’s size, industry, organizational or department maturity, use of technology and overall culture.
  • Identify potential buyers and influencers. The key point here is going beyond simply finding names and adding them to your CRM. You’ll need to grasp how a target account is structured and what the responsibilities are for your contacts. Create a diagram that offers a clear picture of the account’s structure and chain of command.
  • Uncover actionable insights. Arguably the most essential step for a successful ABM program, uncovering actionable insights will be the key influencing factor toward your messaging and content offer. For example, you might start by digging through an account’s annual report. Immerse yourself in their business objectives and risk factors. And connect industry trends and company aspirations with individuals’ goals.
  • Create and deploy highly targeted offers. Utilize a mix of highly targeted blogs, visual content, SEO, social and paid media and retargeting efforts to deliver personalized and targeted messages throughout various stages of the sales cycle. Construct a content framework that aligns with inbound marketing strategies and establish service level agreements to leverage sales efforts and manage lead flow.

Keep in mind that this approach can apply to help grow existing accounts as well as attract new customers. Want to learn more? Contact Point To Point today for more ideas on how to build an effective account-based marketing strategy.

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