A huge transformation that B2B companies are undergoing is the switch to Account Based Marketing and Selling (ABM). This is a big change for enterprise companies whose systems and processes revolve around “warm leads” versus “warm accounts”. And with new technology enabling ABM to be successful, big operations decisions and purchases are being made.
But if you’re a startup or a small business looking to grow with marketing, what you’re wondering is “Will ABM even work for a small budget like mine?”
The answer is an emphatic yes! (And you’ll get results faster than the enterprises!)
Getting Started with ABM
Don’t let ABM software and methodology intimidate you. Here are the key concepts you need to start organizing your team around.
Focus is Critical to Success
Narrowing your target market is essential to making ABM work. This isn’t a new concept, Geoffrey Moore touted it back in 1991 when he published Crossing the Chasm. The more you can narrow your target, the better you can define their needs and create messaging to get their attention. See a process for identifying your target buyer.
Put ALL your resources into penetrating target accounts
No, I’m not talking about development and finance. I mean your sales and marketing teams. They need to be 100% aligned that all of their time and spend goes towards engaging target accounts. Anything else is a waste of resources.
Create a “swear jar” for the word “Lead”
Getting a lead is no longer your goal. Sure, leads are a starting point, but this isn’t what marketing or business development should be measured on. Instead put attention on warm accounts – having multiple leads from a target account engaged with your website, assets, nurture emails and salespeople. Only when an account has reached this point is it ready for an Account Executive to jump into the mix with a personalized selling approach (see below).
Take the time to personalize
To get the most out of ABM, your target buyers need to feel like everything they engage with you on is written for them. That means your website, your assets, your emails and sales scripts. Personalization doubles website conversion rates. It’s totally worth it and doable with some smart content planning.
ABM without Automation Tools
Without a doubt, there is some sexy new software in the ABM category. But of course, you won’t be able to afford it yet. So here is the break down of how to run a poor man’s version of the most important ABM tools.
Targeted IP advertising
There are some great tools that automate this at scale for you. Even if you could afford this, you don’t need it yet. Both LinkedIn and the Google Ad Network offer advertising by IP address. Once you have your target account list, you can upload it and start targeting. If you don’t have the resources with knowledge to do this, it is a pretty easy thing to find a freelance digital marketer to do.
By far the most powerful of the ABM tools, you can still make some headway toward the concept. While you can’t automatically change your homepage based on the IP address of the visitor, you can make sure that your homepage caters to the few verticals/segments you are targeting. Additionally, you can create landing pages for your targeted IP ads that speak directly to the industry/title you are going after.
You probably don’t even do lead scoring yet, so why bother with account scoring? And you’re not wrong. What you do need to do is discuss target account activity in weekly sales and marketing interlock meetings and decide as a team which accounts are ready for personalized selling or in reverse need more marketing nurture.
You’re spending a lot of effort to get a lead from a target account so it only makes sense that you double down on that lead and the account to increase overall engagement. This means some basic email nurture and enlisting business development to help stimulate interest throughout the account.
Both business development reps and account executives need to approach leads and accounts differently in the ABM world. You’re going to get less leads/accounts, but they are from companies that match your ideal buyer. Just like marketing is putting in extra effort to personalize messaging, so does sales. This means using social selling, referral selling and even personalized video and direct mail to penetrate the account and turn it into an opportunity.
Startups need to be doing ABM
There are ways to execute an ABM strategy that are low cost, they just require focus and hustle. Combine that with the fact that no other go-to-market strategy is as effective for B2B companies as ABM, it just makes sense for a startup to adopt these principles.
And the best news is that because you don’t have layers of technology and process mired in the “old way”, you can spin up ABM and start seeing results much faster than the big enterprises. And that means you have the tools to be a disruptor in your market. So what are you waiting for?
Need help creating and executing your ABM strategy? Let’s talk!