Without good account selection, account based marketing is a rather expensive exercise resulting in a lot of hot air and little else.
With B2B marketers rapidly adopting account based marketing strategies, approaching account selection right from the beginning is increasingly important.
The first list is often straightforward to pull together. After all everyone has a wish-list of companies that they want to work with but haven’t quite managed to as yet. That in itself is not a good approach to selecting accounts – we all have our favourite companies but are they the best fit for the company? How far away from the buying phase are they?
More challenging is after that first group – and this is often where it becomes clear that the approach to selecting the first group of companies was less than ideal.
The best approach is likely to result in the creation of multiple groups all with different criteria associated with them.
But how many groups should there be? This largely depends on your overall ABM budget, including how much time is available to service ABM, and which ABM strategies make sense for your particular company.
There are three different ABM strategies as illustrated in the pyramid below.
As you move up the pyramid, the average marketing spend per account increases, so as a result you would only want to deliver a one-to-one strategy for your largest prospects.
This immediately sets some levels around which accounts qualify for which strategy based upon their lifetime value for the company (the CLV).
This can all be done manually if need be using a mix of firmographics and qualitative data from your teams, or improved further with the addition of quantitative data from your historic sales performance.
Placing an account within a one-to-few or one-to-one programme can be expensive to get wrong though and just following the above will not prevent adding an account at the wrong time.
Timing is everything.
As a result, there are three areas we recommend you include in an account selection strategy.
- Technographics: This is not applicable to all companies, but aligning potential renewal periods gleaned from technographic data allows you to better time the start of an ABM programme at a specific account.
- External intent : We all understand the buyer now spends the majority of a sales process researching online before communicating with a vendor. Being able to understand this is happening allows you to prioritise an account quickly.
- Taking advantage of a one-to-many programme: Targeting accounts within a one-to-many programme allows you to build awareness early with an account, identify key topics of interest and potentially influence the latter sales stages. As accounts become more active, these can then be promoted up to a one-to-few or one-to-one ABM programme in a timely fashion.
This idea of promoting and also demoting accounts is important to a successful ABM programme. Once insight suggesting either situation is necessary, acting quickly will either accelerate the account through the pipeline or allow budget for other accounts.
As you deal with increasing numbers of accounts, automating this capability is critical and in doing so also allows you to better predict account suitability based on increasing numbers of variables.
Overall this leads to a more cost efficient account based marketing programme, an accelerated pipeline and a larger average contract value.