This blog post is the fourth in Alyce’s seven-part series on account-based marketing best practices. For this post on rolling out ABM programs, we connected with award-winning, Bronx-born B2B marketing and ABM expert, Lauren Vaccarello.
So, you’ve bought into account-based marketing as a way to supercharge B2B revenue generation results. You’ve been putting thought into developing your list of target accounts. You’ve done some thinking about how to measure the effectiveness of ABM. You’ve set up some meetings with your sales counterparts to better understand what they need.
Now, my friends are when you go for it. This is when you dive into executing your ABM strategy – even if you’re starting small – and you determine the optimal tactical mix to get the business results you need as your initiative evolves.
Ask the Right Questions Right at the Start
“When you’re building an ABM strategy, before you decide on where to invest time and budget from a program standpoint, sit down with sales and customer success and ask, ‘What do we want to do?’” says Lauren Vaccarello, who most recently served as vice president of marketing at Box. “Do you want to use ABM as a vehicle to get into accounts where you are a complete unknown and have no penetration whatsoever? Do you want to use ABM to reach accounts where you have a little engagement but need to up your game? Do you want to use ABM to tip the scale in an addressable market where you have low penetration? Do you want to use ABM to sell more products or services to existing top customers? You can look at ABM in different ways, and the decision you make here should guide how you think about programs and tactics.”
As you set the foundation for ABM at your organization, it’s key to meditate on the “Why are we doing this?” kinds of questions, otherwise you may end up in an ABM freefall. By taking Lauren’s advice, you’ll essentially “pick a lane” for your strategy, which is critical so that you can be focused with the programs you design.
Most ABM initiatives don’t kick off with a thousand accounts and a gung ho sales organization eager to embrace a new marketing strategy. Sometimes, ABM starts off in a scrappier place.
“Sales people don’t love unproven metrics, but we knew we had the right idea and were willing to start small to prove it out,” says Lauren. “We took an approach that we felt would get us up and running fast. In the beginning, we spoke with some account executives about running a pilot, and we asked them to give us a list of accounts they were having trouble with. From that, we arrived at a list of 35 accounts, and we were off and running.”
Spoiler alert: the work Lauren and her team did to accelerate sales with these 35 accounts made major progress for the sales team – the ABM initiative went from a 35-account pilot to 150 accounts to 1,000 accounts within two years. “Our sales people were hitting numbers and telling their peers, ‘I got into this account because of marketing,’” Lauren remembers.
ABM Programs and Tactics to Try
“What I love about marketing and ABM is how you can mix the digital world with the physical world to get big results,”
How exactly did Lauren and her team help win new business with key accounts?
“What I love about marketing and ABM is how you can mix the digital world with the physical world to get big results,” says Lauren. “You should use different tactics to influence different stages throughout the customer lifecycle.” Lauren’s team used a variety of tactics across several programs to influence business results as they grew their ABM initiative.
“One of the first things we did was look at the role ABM can play in building account intelligence,” says Lauren. Her thinking was that the ABM marketers’ job was to gather information and intelligence about all the right people at a key account, not just one buyer. And this exercise in account profiling and intelligence gathering helped sales to gain a clearer picture of who the buyers are at each key account.
“To drive awareness among our target accounts, we create a ‘digital ecosystem’ around our buyers,” she says. Lauren and her team boost awareness and engagement with tactics including LinkedIn ads, CRM retargeting, custom nurture programs, and more.
“In ABM, we think about how we can tailor the experience for our target accounts,” says Lauren. “How to create in-person moments of serendipity?” Lauren and her team put effort into inviting key accounts to field marketing events and corporate or sponsored events and tradeshows so that salespeople can cross paths with target accounts.
5. Sales Enablement
“In ABM, we do a ton of sales enablement as we help sales land these new accounts,” Lauren says. Her team has regular calls with sales people to explain the ways they are engaging accounts with ABM tactics, including how they’re using content and what’s happening in field marketing. In addition, ABM marketers can help with appointment setting to help busy sales people manage meetings with target accounts.
As you seek to kick off or grow your ABM initiative, ask the right questions to guide your tactical choices, and look for a multitude of opportunities to engage and convert your target accounts.
The Moral of the Story
- With ABM, it’s OK to start small, as long as you start somewhere
- Work with sales partners to come up with an answer to the question: What role do we want ABM to play?
- ABM should use a variety of digital and physical tactics to engage and convert target accounts
Many thanks to ABM and B2B marketing
superstar Lauren Vaccarello for her insights.