[ a ] More than pre-COVID?
[ b ] Same as before?
[ c ] Didn’t need it then, don’t need it now. Pah!
Account-Based Marketing (ABM), is a disciplined approach to selling into the accounts you really want. This assumes…
1. You know which accounts you really want.
2. The accounts you want are valuable—worth spending extra resources to get.
3. Your sales team will accept/beg for/appreciate help from marketing to get them. So far, COVID hasn’t changed any of the above. The accounts you want most may have changed, your sales team may need more help than they did before the pandemic, but those are details.
What’s important is, your answer is most likely either [a], or [b], More, or Same as before. (If your answer is, “Pah,” you can stop reading now and go back to polishing the chrome on your GTO. The finer points of 21 st Century marketing may not be for you!)
If your sales team is at least as eager for help now than before the pandemic, this is Marketing’s chance to set up an ABM program structured for success.
Planning ABM for success.
The great thing about developing the plan is that you are in position to define success. In many ABM programs, because the prospects are so desirable (by definition), winning just one of these plums can be more than enough to pay for the program. The downside is that (in B2B) the larger the account, the longer it can take to close—often up to 24 months. Clearly you can’t wait 24 months to learn if the program you’ve gone to bat for is working. So you need some interim metrics, and that’s difficult because they aren’t real goals. They’re program-related, but not necessarily sales related. This is where your agency (Verdi!) can help in the planning—to help you understand what the interim goals should be—so senior management will continue to support the program.
Interim milestones towards success.
Start with a list of the accounts you and your sales team want. It’s the most important part of your program, so when you’re confident it’s close, it’s a milestone. Take a bow.
Build out the decision makers and influencers.
But identifying the target accounts is only the first step in the ABM process, and there are many more milestones to achieve. For example, you can ask yourself, “how many members of the buying/influencing committee of my ABM prospects have I been able to identify?”
Theoretically, every large account has one decision maker, one or more influencers, one or more users, a purchasing contact, and a finance signoff. Usually, you’ll start with one. When the numbers start going up, you’re doing something right. Give yourself some success points. (It’s your plan, you get to decide how many!)
ABM content milestones.
When you begin your ABM outreach, you’ll want to design enticing offers for each of your prospects, according to their needs. Here again, your agency (Verdi!) can help. And to take full credit for driving your buying committee members to consume the content created for them, you’ll need marketing automation tags on the content. (Verdi can help with this also—if you don’t have a Marketing Automation platform, we’re a SharpSpring Silver Partner, and we can set you up within a couple of weeks. SharpSpring is a robust platform like Marketo or HubSpot priced more reasonably. If you already have a MA platform, no worries, Verdi can help you use it effectively for ABM.) You’ll build in goals for success in driving prospects to consume the content designed for them.
As salespeople begin to work these ABM prospects, Marketing needs to understand what they are learning about the accounts and the individuals to whom they are speaking. Marketing has access to other tools to qualify prospects according to intent, and part of the deal between Marketing and Sales is the agreement to share information. What happens on the website as the ABM prospects begin consuming content is part of the information exchange that allows sales to speak knowledgeably to the prospects about what the prospects have learned.
Direct mail can provide impact that email cannot.
High-impact direct mail, designed appropriately, is memorable, and can often make a prospecting call from your sales team many times more productive. Your agency (Verdi!) can suggest the best timing to supplement your email outreach with direct mail that makes prospects anticipate your sales team’s call and be willing to talk.
Provide regular updates for your team management.
In the plan, detail what management should expect and when. Your quarterly reports should confirm what milestones you are shooting for, and what’s coming soon. Once the program is under way, you will have plenty of interest to management, because of the detail marketing automation tracking will tell you about these key accounts you are targeting. Management will feel part of the exciting plan to target, track, and land these desirable prospects. Your agency (Verdi!) will be happy to attend these meetings to help convey the excitement of this state-of-the-art ABM program.
Get started with Account-Based Marketing (ABM) (or take the next step. Call at 585.381.4275 ex 201 or email Mary Bonaccio, Verdi’s VP/Director of Client Services. Or just visit our website, and watch what happens when you do!
It would be a mistake to ignore the new reality: The world has gone through an ordeal that has included a serious health threat, personal isolation, business on pause, new government regulation, cash infusion from the government, the close-down of trade shows, close-down and slow start-up of restaurants, and by the way—when we do meet prospects in person, we’re all wearing masks. So yes, life has changed. And of course that has an impact on B2B lead generation, as well.
Prospects are doing more on their own, but they also welcome human contact.
During the worst of COVID, we all feared for our loved ones and learned to work in isolation using our home resources. Coming up to speed with Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Google Hangouts, we realized that our information sources have changed. This is true of marketing and sales departments, but it is also true of your prospects. Prospects were used to looking over a cubicle wall to talk to a coworker or share an opinion about products and services under consideration. Over a cup of coffee they could ask their colleagues about vendors with whom they had positive or negative experiences. This kind of important communication has been missing from the past few months. Meanwhile, they have relied more than ever on visits to websites, web reviews, and emails from people they know.
Salespeople need to start a new conversation with their prospects.
And they may need new tools to do it. Some prospects are still good prospects, ready to pick up where they left off two months ago. Others are in a different place. Their budgets have been reallocated. Their priorities have shifted. Their needs have changed. Your salespeople need to understand where their prospects are today, so they can address the new needs and priorities. As marketers, we need to support this need with data collection, lead requalification, lead nurturing, and tighter integration between sales and marketing. As marketers, we need to develop new content that is relevant to our prospects so we can track (by the content they consume) where they are in the buying continuum.
When priorities shift, opportunities emerge!
Some prospects will want to put the purchase of your product or service on the back burner. Others will see it as more important and more urgent than ever. You need to understand how your lead funnel has changed. And you don’t have to do it alone: Ask your marketing agency to help.
Talk to an agency (like Verdi). From lead requalification to content development and lead nurture, we can help. For marketing automation that allows you to re-score and re-prioritize your old leads, identify new leads, build awareness at the top of the funnel and lead qualification at the spout, your marketing agency can help. If you’d like to understand how we think an agency should assist you in this post-COVID world, perhaps you need a 10-minute conversation with a Verdi representative who is hungry for human contact. Learn more.
Marketers emerging into a “new normal” after weeks of isolation are discovering there’s nothing normal about the “return to normal.” For one thing, a good chunk of the world is not returning to the office at all. These people have discovered they can function perfectly well in their home setting. Most companies (including Verdi) are working out accommodations for this remote function, but it takes a toll on marketing and sales managers who need to work out the scheduling of meetings, deadlines, and deliverables with new considerations and tools.
Verdi is hearing that the cheese has moved for many salespeople.
Prospects’ needs have shifted. Sales techniques have changed—some of your old hot leads have used the time at home to research new partners and vendors. Meanwhile, other unsuspected prospects have developed a new need for your services, but you might not be aware of their interest. Some of your leads have decided to stay home—no more “lunch and learns,’ no more dinners, golf outings, or after-work meetings. Sales people need help from
Marketing to the rescue!
This is the time for marketing to come to the rescue of your sales team with a plan to recover.
Requalify your hot leads. Make sure you still know how (and where!) to reach them. Make sure their interest has not flagged, that their need has not shifted, and that their budgets are intact. Cost: a few hours of telemarketing. Value? Priceless!!
Take the money you set aside for show attendance and redeploy it into a high-impact, multitouch marketing campaign that will help you identify prospects at every stage of the buying continuum. Spend the money while you can, or you’ll find that next year you won’t have it in your budget. Salespeople need you to refill your lead funnel—and fast enough so that your salespeople can make a start on filling their quotas. Cost? A fraction of what you would have spent on the show. Value? Priceless!!
Integrate your program follow-up with your sales team. This is the time to tear down the traditional obstacles and barriers between sales and marketing. For once, salespeople will be grateful for the leads you provide, and will be happy to work with you on the follow-up, the lead nurture efforts, and the development of content for each stage of the buying journey. Cost: Time to over-communicate, provide sales-enablement tools, and a program sales playbook, along with personalized communications to support each member of the team. Value? Priceless!!
Marketing automation: Use it! If you have a marketing platform and you are using it consistently, you’re ahead of the game. (If not, you can use ours!) Now is the time to put your marketing automation through its paces. It can help you sort out those prospects whose needs have changed, and quickly allow you to direct or redirect appropriate content to them, measure their engagement, and recalculate their lead scores. Cost: Reasonable. Value? Priceless!!
Use your agency as your partner. As an agency, Verdi works with many companies, and we can talk about the post-COVID experience across many industries. We are reviewing plans with all of our clients. Requalifying leads for most. Planning strategies to replenish their lead funnels, helping them with marketing automation, and working on account-based-marketing programs to help jump-start the third and fourth quarters of the year. Some of our clients are still in shock from the change they have lived through. But we are helping them start up again. We can help you!
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