It’s been several months since I wrote ABM: Assessing Your Readiness, in which I covered 5 key steps to assessing readiness for a successful implementation of an account-based strategy. There is no doubt that, in 2016, we saw a massive increase in buzz around this topic, but since December, that buzz has reached an almost fever pitch.
Leaders and practitioners from almost every business department (marketing, sales, IT, even finance) are immersing themselves in discussions around implementing account-based strategies and the potential impact on their revenue.
Since December, I’ve been to two conferences that had exclusive ABM content tracks (I am at a third this week); I’ve seen the emergence of a plethora of ABM tools; alliances are being formed (more on this later); and I have assisted several companies begin the arduous process of adopting this game-changing approach.
Buzz aside, the fundamental steps of launching account-based strategies and the steps to achieving success remain fairly constant. In the next couple of articles, we are going to take a deeper dive into these steps, providing details and some real-world examples of what we’ve seen work.
As a review, here are the original 5 steps:
In practice, these areas have evolved a bit. We’ve now combined Data Cleanliness and Data Integrity into one step – Data, and we’ve added “Metrics” – a step where teams determine how best to measure the results of their ABM efforts, ensuring that the systems and processes that deliver that data are in place.
We’ll start with “Culture” and how best to anticipate and drive that cultural change in your organization so that you can implement a successful account-based strategy. Whew! That’s a mouthful.
This step is, by far, the most critical to achieving success. Moving to an account-based approach truly takes a concerted effort. Here are some things for teams to consider:
Marketing – the shift from the targeting of “single leads” to the targeting of “buying committees” will require a change in several process areas, including scoring, modifications to lifecycle, and the addition of a process to group records and manage them. Another significant change for this team will be the shift in content strategy to one that leverages buying committee role information and delivers highly customized content, in a wide variety of channels. For many, this includes the return of tactics such as direct and dimensional mailers, as well as an expansion of customized website content.
Sales – many Sales teams today are already practicing some form of account-based selling, but they will continue to see more changes to the systems and processes they employ. For example, coordinated Sales plays that involve all members of the organization, including executives and typically “non-customer facing” team members, are a crucial part of a good strategy. These teams require clear communication and consistent use of a centralized tool to effectively manage the ABM process. Vendors like Salesforce, Engagio, Marketo and others are competing to play a vital role in this market.
Executive – the participation of executives in the targeting selling of accounts will increase as ABM use progresses. Execs will reach out to their counterparts at prospective client organizations and, in some cases, provide their points-of-view via blog posts that can be repurposed as highly targeted content.
Information Technology – organizations that are selling a technically-based product (who isn’t these days?) will often lean on members of the IT team to provide technical content that helps their counterparts at prospective client organizations while vetting the technical details of a proposed solution.
As stated previously, a move to an account-based strategy will impact the entire organization. This is my advice:
As with any transition, proper planning, communication and thorough execution are the keys to success. And while account-based strategies are nothing new, so to speak, the tools and systems that support them are. In the coming weeks we will be looking at the other 4 steps to successfully implementing account-based strategies. In the meantime, please share your thoughts and comments on our recommendations or on your own ABM successes.
For those of you who will be attending the Marketo Summit this month, I would love to connect with you there and hear about the ABM tactics and strategies that are working for you. You will find me floating between the Digital Pi booth (G-631) and at Marketo’s ABM booth. In the meantime, we’ve put together this guide, which highlights some of the exciting things we will be offering at the event. Hope to see you there!