ABM works. It continues to prove itself as one of the most successful marketing initiatives that B2B firms are using today. For example, ITSMA’s survey shows that 89% of marketers say ABM outperforms other marketing investments. But developing an effective ABM strategy comes with its fair share of gray areas.

For instance, what approach would you use and why? Are you focusing on the right metrics, and how can you ensure that your sales team is adequately prepared to engage targets?

If you’re considering ABM and need to get it right the first time, here are six ABM strategy aspects you must address to build your most effective program.

1. Choose your ABM program approach

While ABM has mass appeal, it should not be mistaken as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing initiative because businesses have different solutions and goals.

For instance, it may make sense for large IT software firm with thousands of customers to plan a programmatic ABM strategy, as this will enable cross-selling and upselling. However, a small IT firm would likely be better off with a high-value, strategic account focus by targeting 1 to 10 accounts they want to close.

How do you determine which program type will best suit your firm? Terminus details four program types, each defined by a set of five criteria. These are as follows: audience size, deal size, the complexity of the sales process, the level of personalization both at the start and towards the end of the sales process, and the degree of scalability.

4 Types of ABM

Image: Terminus

Read all about the four program types here.

2. Sales and marketing must move in lockstep

ABM strategies are a function of highly aligned sales and marketing teams. What does this highly aligned partnership look like in practice? Here are three important traits sales and marketing must adopt:

  • Fluid communication. Marketing and sales make a point to meet at least on a weekly basis and provide updates, sometimes daily regarding new challenges experienced in both camps.
  • The buying process is viewed as a joint responsibility. Sales and marketing work together to design an approach that will lead to accelerated sales cycles based on effective engagement with buyers.
  • Transparency is a given. Both teams are aware of their responsibilities and clear lines are drawn. Transparency also extends to insights around the success of different parts of the ABM strategy (think lead quality and conversion rates) and how to replicate the right sales and marketing behaviors to drive more favorable outcomes.

3. Metrics and goals must be clear

ABM strategy metrics and goals are always tied back to bottom line results, and they are shared with all stakeholders to ensure that the focus of a strategy is never lost. While most companies may have different metrics they measure, common measurements to track include: 

  • New accounts engaged – are you reaching more new accounts each week?
  • Win rate – how many deals are you closing and what is the conversion rate?
  • Contribution to pipeline – what value does ABM contribute to pipeline (also measured along with win rate)?
  • Number of qualified accounts – is your team reaching enough qualified accounts on a daily / weekly / monthly basis?
  • Pipeline velocity – is there a steady flow of opportunities moving through your pipeline?
  • Account engagement score – is your team able to reach specific targets successfully?

4. Your ABM strategy must be documented

Like all effective marketing initiatives, documenting your ABM strategy helps you refine it. You’re able to conduct a postmortem to develop insights on these and other important aspects of your program: 

  • What worked well. Was your messaging effective?
  • What should be revised. What could you change to enhance the way you target various roles?
  • What should be done away with. Which elements, messaging, content hampered the sales cycle?

 5. You know what matters to your targets

Research is critical to ABM strategy success. It fuels the creation of effective content and messaging that you present to each of your targets in a personalized approach.

Because ABM involves more than a single target, you must ensure that you have the right content to engage the rest of the decision panel at each stage of the sales cycle. Not sure if you have enough of the right content? Conduct a content audit and plug the holes that could lead to a slower sales cycle. Here, leaning on your sales team for observations they’ve made during client interaction goes a long way. 

6. Sales must have a roadmap for engagements

As ABM involves catering to a larger audience of decision-makers and influencers, it make sense that sales is prepared to engage each role to close the deal. One of the best ways to ensure that your sales team is prepared to engage the various members of a buying team is by giving them a sales playbook. This way you create an easy-to-follow framework for sales to execute on, one that accelerates the sales cycle.

Summary

Effective ABM strategies involve many moving parts. However, amongst these components, B2B firms must ensure that they practice the right set of core behaviors including in-depth research, sales and marketing alignment, tracking the right metrics, documentation of their strategy, production of well-thought-out content and messaging, and the development of a sales strategy to drive engagement with all parties of the buying team.