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10 things to avoid getting wrong in account-based marketing

Today’s blog is essentially a distillation of the 10 key take outs from my ABM Essentials course for B2B Marketing, although on the advice of David McGuire, one of my faculty colleagues, I’ve opted to call it the ‘10 things to avoid getting wrong’ because apparently we all prefer reading about how to avoid getting things wrong rather than about recommendations on how get things right. Curious but true.

Get the following right and not much will go wrong as you launch or refine your ABM programmes.

1. A clear definition of ABM in your organisation.

Don’t start your ABM programme without having a clear definition of what ABM actually is within your organisation. Make sure you have developed it with all your key stakeholders and that everyone has signed it off. There are too many interpretations of ABM for this to be left to chance.

2. Executive sponsorship is vital

Make sure that you have support for your ABM programme from the top down. At the very least the regional heads of sales and marketing, ideally the CMO and CRO, and potentially even the CEO. Your ABM activities will go much more smoothly if ABM thinking is cascading down and through the organisation. And when the going gets tough (as it probably will at times), you will have the support you to need to drive on through.

3. Sales & Marketing alignment is not an optional extra

If you want a successful ABM programme it is essential that sales & marketing are both signed up and 100% committed. ABM is not a service that marketing performs for sales, it is a joint effort and requires sustained focus and commitment from both teams for it to work effectively.

4. Choosing the right type of ABM for your business

ABM is a pretty broad church and there are significant differences between 1:1, 1:Few and 1:Many. Hopefully these are self-explanatory but essentially 1:1 (single account focus), 1:Few (typically a cluster of vertically aligned accounts) and 1:Many (a larger number of focus accounts but not demand gen in the traditional sense). You need to make sure you select the right ABM approach or ‘blend’ to reflect your business requirements, your average order value and your budget.

5. Take time on account selection

ABM account selection is typically based on ‘gut-feel’ or requests/recommendations from sales. This is not a recipe for success. Far better to spend some quality time scoring your accounts based on a set of consistent criteria to give you some empirically sound reasons for account selection and an audit trail of why accounts were chosen.

6. A clear and replicable process for ABM

It’s really important that you have a clear, structured process for ABM that everyone gets. You want all key stakeholders from sales and marketing to know what they’ve signed up to, what is required of them, and how long it will take. Equally there is no point launching an ABM strategy and then finding that is being delivered inconsistently across accounts or markets.

7. Customer insight is the cornerstone of all ABM

ABM is just not possible without research & insight. For 1:1 this means in-depth account profiles; for 1:Few sector studies will be required as a minimum but probably deep dives into each account as well; for 1:Many the dynamics will be based more around account segmentation and data analysis. But for all three it essential that you have identified the business needs and pain points of the customers or prospects you are targeting.

8. Your value proposition must be tailored to the audience

ABM is not about taking your corporate or product messaging and simply serving it up as is to your target accounts. You will need to craft account or sector-based messaging built on the findings of your insight work, where you’re addressing the specific needs of the audience and making a direct connection with the solutions and services your business can provide.

9. Creative cut-through is a must-have

There is no point going to the trouble of everything discussed above if your marketing doesn't have creative cut-through. All the strategy, planning and insight in the world will be wasted if your content doesn’t resonate and your campaigns don't capture the hearts and/or minds of the customer.

10. Common goals to build a single team

As per point 3, it is essential that sales & marketing are completely aligned on any ABM activity, and the best way to ensure is to set joint KPIs for the programme where the whole team can share the success of their joint efforts working together.

If you follow the above 10 tips, you should be in good shape to launch or refine your ABM programme, but please contact  if you’d like more information on the ABM Essentials training course, and contact Robert directly if you’d like discuss anything above in more detail.

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