What if there was a way you could closely align sales and marketing so that both departments were deeply synchronized and working in concert with one another? You would probably say, “Yeah, right. Marketing hasn’t talked to Sales since ‘Breaking Bad’ went off the air.” But what if you could also get more value out of your marketing spend, increase account relevance, and drive revenue?

There is a way to achieve all of this — and it’s called Account Based Marketing, or ABM. And it should be your go-to strategy for closing enterprise deals going forward. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Account Based Marketing?

ABM is a B2B strategic sales approach that targets company accounts rather than individual stakeholders with purchasing power. Instead of trying to win over one person, you create ultra-personalized, tailor-made marketing content that speaks to each account and their needs.

ABM was first developed by Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) back in 2004 as a way to cut through the noise of generic sales messaging. ITSMA has even written a book about how businesses can implement their own ABM program.

Typically, when a marketing department tries to chase down leads for sales, they cast as wide a net as possible, which can have the adverse effect of creating unqualified leads. But if you’re fishing for something specific, you don’t use a net — you use a spear.

Except, when it comes to ABM, it’s not fishing with a spear, it’s fishing with a thousand spears. You’re not just focusing on one person making purchasing decisions. You’re reaching their support staff and multiple departments across the enterprise with precise, targeted content.

Since enterprise companies have multiple decision-makers with purchasing power spread out across several departments, you can’t just direct one message at a buyer and cross your fingers — you need to get buy-in across the board. Again, you’re not just talking to the head of a department. You’re talking to the entire account.

Best of all, sales and marketing work together on generating the right leads, so they can focus on the right clients every single time. In fact, companies that have adopted ABM are 40 percent more likely to have their marketers closely aligned with sales.

Why should you care about ABM?

You’ve probably already incorporated elements of ABM into your marketing strategy, but there’s no better time to go all-in, as the benefits are clearly measurable:

In short, this hyper-targeted approach to enterprise sales and marketing works—and works exceedingly well. It’s more effective than the traditional approaches to revenue generation, and since it has a measurable impact on client satisfaction, your customer success team will thank you, too.

How should you use ABM for maximum effect?

Start by identifying the key accounts you want to focus on. How? Look for prospects that will be a significant source of revenue. Identify those that are influencers within their own market. Determine which ones may be fertile for a land-and-expand campaign. You’re looking for your most valuable accounts—not just those that have the most immediate upside, but over the long-term, as well.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to know how those accounts are structured and who makes most of the major buying decisions. Now, you’ll need to develop and define that content, personalizing it so that it will speak directly to that department and their business challenges. With your content developed, you can deliver on that research by coordinating marketing campaigns, harnessing the power of both marketing and sales in order to craft an effective message that utilizes all of the platforms your team has at their disposal. This can take the form of live events, webinars, direct mail, email, and web personalization.

Finally, you have to record your data, and consistently measure how your ABM processes are performing. You can’t just coast on a newly employed ABM strategy—you have to measure its effectiveness.

Otherwise, it’s just a waste of your marketing dollars.

What’s the bottom line?

With a proper ABM strategy in place, you’ll get more from your marketing budget and close more high-value accounts with long-term upside. And when sales and marketing are working together in a synergistic fashion, there’s no longer a finger to point when leads turn up nothing because both departments are generating quality leads together. And quality leads means more sales.

It really is that simple.

Executive Insights

Differentiating yourself from the competition is all about delivering value. If you can learn where your competitors are falling short, you can leverage that insight to make a real impact. You’ll need to ask better questions, research more intelligently, and build relationships with prospects—even when you’re not selling—in order to set yourself apart. Putting in the extra effort and covering all your bases can give you the critical edge you need to stand out.


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