A Demandbase survey revealed that ABM can increase deal velocity by 7%, deal sizes by 26%, and close rates by 75%. ITSMA, a leading association for technology marketers, calls it “one of the hottest trends in B2B marketing…” Despite ABMs promise to revolutionize the way we penetrate key accounts, many product marketing professionals are struggling with starting or accelerating ABM initiatives. Teams are already stretched thin and have limited bandwidth or they are not ABM certified or experienced. Forrester notes that when this is the case, four out of five marketers find that ABM’s effectiveness falls short. Forrester sums up the challenge in a blog titled: “Let’s Move from Cacophony to Euphony” wherein they outline four key steps to setting up ABM for success:
- Select and Target Accounts and Contacts
- Gather Insights such as Key Issues
- Design Engagement including Messaging and Assets
- Orchestrate Interaction and Execute Aligned Activity
I work with Aventi Group and our team has extensive experience with ABM. Based on input from dozens of top marketing teams, feedback from thousands of IT & IS decision-makers, and research reports from dozens of analysts, we often see three key reasons why ABM might not be as effective as desired:
Targeting: Many ABM approaches still use “old school” demand generation tactics that are no longer effective. Our experience and interactions with many technology decision-makers over the years has shown that about 80% (or 4 out of 5) do not accept cold calls or cold emails. Still, some marketing agencies suggest starting with hundreds of telemarketing calls to target accounts, completing a few hundred profiles, whittling down to 100 targets, and then scheduling a few dozen meetings. A better approach is to reverse this by first determining the most pressing concerns, or Unknown Urgent Risks (UUR), that will appeal to target accounts. This is similar to The Challenger Sale “redirect” but far more effective as it leverages the latest neuroscience.
Messaging & Content: Megan Heuer, VP and Group Director at SiriusDecisions, said, “We see a lot of content still targeted at the top of the funnel for overly generic personas. This happens when marketers say, “We sell into 20 industries and we’ve got 5 different personas in each and 5 sales stages and we can’t develop content for all of them.” So people throw up their hands and write something for CIOs in general and call it thought leadership.” Most firms have excellent company messaging, but few have solution messaging targeted to and personalized for specific personas. Once we know the UURs, we can create compelling messaging and content that’s ABM-optimized.
Focus: ABM fails when it’s treated like a quarterly campaign with limited focus or budget instead of a way of life. Successful ABM happens with adequate resources that are either outsourced or hired. “ABM can be the victim of its own success,” said Megan Heuer. “If you start with one or two people being asked to ‘take on’ ABM and it works really well, then Sales will want more. But marketing leaders can be reluctant to shift resources away from the things that they’ve always been doing. When that happens, ABM marketers aren’t able to scale their teams or their work as quickly as they’d like and they get a bit frustrated. It’s a real issue.”
The most important difference between ABM and traditional demand gen is timing. Gartner and other analysts report that accounts are more than 50% to a sale by the time they engage with vendors. That means you’re usually engaging with an influencer after they’ve done months of research and are “jaded” to a solution or approach. With ABM, you want to snag a decision-maker before they do much research and then motivate them to take action by revealing Thought Leadership UURs. Last but not least, we also need to create ABM-personalized sales enablement content and automate just-in-time delivery, which is not as difficult or expensive as it sounds.
Aventi Group can help with all the above. We have a staff of marketers with ABM and sales enablement training and expertise.
If you’re interested in a quick assessment of your ABM approach and assets, CLICK HERE. We’ll provide input on questions you may have such as:
- What are the optimal ABM target accounts and personas and why?
- What Unknown Urgent Risks (UURs) can we use to motivate decision-makers to act now?
- What personalized content do we need to attract ABM target personas?
- As email and telemarketing are no longer effective, what methods are optimal to reach our target accounts?
- How can we improve our surveys and entice CxOs to give us detailed BANT information?
- How can we empower and train our sales teams to use an ABM-optimized sales approach?
- How can we integrate ABM strategies and tactics into our CRM & MRM systems?
- How can marketing operations track & measure ABM performance and ROI?
- How can we implement effective ABM without disrupting our sales or marketing teams?
Bill Reed Bio:
Aventi Group is a product marketing agency for technology firms that delivers expertise from top Silicon Valley marketing veterans, best practices from numerous clients and industries, and the flexibility to shift marketing staff mix based on dynamic business needs. We attract, hire, retain, and develop talented marketing experts –many of whom are former managers, directors and executives who bring their wealth of experience to our clients.
Bill Reed is an independent executive consultant who collaborates with Aventi Group on client projects. Bill is the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning book The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership, which includes interviews with leading marketing executives and neuroscientific research related to ABM. Bill is a former CMO and has served as an executive product marketing consultant for numerous technology firms from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar companies. Bill has directed dozens of successful ABM campaigns and is a certified ABM Strategist and certified sales enablement expert. Bill is also a leadership coach, certified by the world’s #2 executive coach, which is useful in situations where change management strategies are needed to help teams move beyond comfort zones to implement ABM initiatives.