The ABM Playbook is the multi-tool in your ABM tool chest.
The ABM Playbook describes your program in key detail, with schedules and milestones identified. It explains how ABM is different from other lead-generation activities and expresses that ABM does not replace those activities. Rather, it is a focused approach to gain traction with your organization’s most coveted accounts, and requires collaboration between marketing and sales, with the endorsement of senior management.
The ABM Playbook is your kickoff communication.
Your Playbook explains the nature of the collaboration, the need for sales feedback to be sure the marketing efforts are effective—and wherever possible to tweak the program to become more responsive as analytics and anecdotal evidence come in. The Playbook emphasizes the fact that your ABM program targets your largest potential prospects and does not typically see a payback in revenue the first year. So KPIs for the program are different from the metrics for other demand-generation efforts going on in your organization—and center around developing a deeper understanding of the composition of the buying committee within each prospect and securing engagement with every level of purchasing agents, influence agents, users, and other decision makers. Spelling out your criteria for success at the outset of the program will allow you to report on the progress you make as you move forward.
Your ABM Playbook sets expectations.
Your ABM Playbook keeps all ABM players on the same page with respect to each person’s role in the success of the program. Your Playbook should be very clear about what each participant is expected to do, when he/she is expected to do it, and why that step is critical to the success and future of your ABM plans.
Your Playbook also provides an easy way to explain your ABM program to senior management as they become interested. At first, your management team may be just a small group of senior executives needed to approve the funding for the pilot and the first year of activity. But as you move forward and begin to gain traction with your dream accounts, more senior execs will want to know what you are doing, and the Playbook will be a starting point for them to understand. Your Playbook is a benchmark.
And at key times during the year, when you are asked to report on your ABM efforts (often to secure additional funding to keep going, or to extend the scope of the effort), the Playbook is helpful in establishing what you planned and what you are doing to build on these efforts.
Packaging the ABM Playbook.
Because the Playbook represents your program to all the players, including senior management, it makes sense to package it appropriately, as you would prepare any communications tool with an important audience. It helps to have an art director design the cover and create a layout for the inside of the Playbook so that it reflects the importance of the investment of time, materials, and resources you are making with ABM. Some of our clients keep their Playbook as an electronic document, but others have asked us to print and bind it for distribution to their boards of directors.
Your Playbook is a chance to take a bow. You deserve it!
Traditionally, the Playbook will have a contribution (introduction, foreword, or letter) from the top sales executive and the senior marketing executive who are governing the program. The Playbook will also include graphic elements of the communications and images of the direct mail, email, and landing pages. Where the program calls for field sales input, it is helpful to show the forms you are asking them to complete in their CRM to report on progress with these prospects. You might want to include a discussion of the personas you have developed for each member of the buying committee and ask for feedback from the field to be sure you are reflecting their experience accurately. It makes sense also to show an example of a lead form—as you plan on distributing the leads to your sales people—so they know exactly what to expect, and what the program expects them to do with it.
Finally, as the program moves forward, plan to use your playbook as a reminder of how the program began, so you can compare your actual results to your plans and point out the fine-tuning you have achieved as the program progresses.