You are here

9 things to avoid doing when selecting accounts for ABM

In a recent webinar, Selecting and defining accounts, B2B Marketing’s ABM specialist Andy Bacon outlined the pitfalls to avoid when selecting the right accounts for your business.

1. Relying on the sales team for account selection

The most common way to start collating a list of ABM accounts is, of course, by aligning sales and marketing. This usually means sales pass over accounts they believe would most benefit from an ABM approach, but that doesn’t always mean they’re right.  Often, sales will offer up the ‘hard to reach’ accounts that have proven difficult, but Andy advises going for the easy wins, especially in the early stages. It’s vital marketing have a say in account selection and push back on the sales team’s suggestions by asking for an account plan and list of pain points to evaluate.

2. Leaving the sales team to provide insight

While sales may, at first, seem like the company’s all-knowing data gurus and, therefore, the best place to start, be careful not to treat their insights as gospel. CRM systems such a Salesforce provide a decent level of insight, but quite often, sales doesn’t have the time to build in-depth and up-to-date data. Similarly, marketing should also be collecting insights to build upon sales foundations. A substantial level of insight is imperative to ensure you understand your accounts and which ones to prioritise. “Look before you leap,” stresses Andy, underlining the importance of insight harvested from both sales and marketing.

3. Biting off more accounts than your resources can chew

Be careful in your eagerness to roll out your ABM programme to as many accounts as possible. Your company needs to realise the resources required per account is more than any other method of marketing. This means if you cast your net wide with a thin spread of resources, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to generate any significant ROMI. Ensure you have the right training and a sufficient amount of personalised content in place before engagement.

4. Investing too much, too soon

The rewards from ABM can be extremely lucrative, but be careful not to charge in all guns blazing and blow your budget in one bloody firefight. While you should be investing a healthy amount, your selection process for accounts may throw up roadblocks before engagement starts. Andy states there’s no one-size-fits-all, and different companies experience different challenges, so it’s best to iron these out before going the whole hog with investment.

5. Starting with too many ‘clusters’

If you’re looking to initiate a one-to-few approach, don’t start with a number of different clusters. Begin with one cluster, iron out any difficulties, and then scale. If you’re looking to blend strategic and one-to-few, start with a cluster, and once you begin to see traction, transfer the most receptive accounts to one-to-one engagement.

6. Not setting clear objectives and KPIs

The trajectory of your ABM programme will be all over the place if you do not envision what you want to achieve. It may seem obvious, but many fail to pinpoint exactly what they want to gain with ABM. Do you want to grow existing accounts? Or is your primary objective to attain new business? Of course, the most popular goal will be drumming up new business, but Andy warns marketers not to overlook ABM’s potential as a valuable retention tool.

7. Selling ABM to your team as a quick-win tactic

Don’t sell ABM as a programme that guarantees immediate gratification. While easy wins will garner support for the programme, the big deals are likely to take months or even years to come to fruition. You need to manage expectations across the company to avoid any undue criticism of your account selection. In a recent roundtable, one marketing leader confessed it took their ABM programme over two years to prosper.  “Begin with the lower hanging fruit, that’s the best place to start,” Andy advises.

8. Assuming all decision-making units are similar

Do not assume every decision-making unit operates and thinks the same way – they can vary greatly. For programmatic ABM – which has more generic messaging – it’s sensible to organise each account’s DMU into personas to ensure better levels of engagement. For strategic and one-to-few approaches, deeper levels of insight are critical to knowing what makes each DMU tick.

9. Invest in technology

It would be a huge mistake to invest too much in technology early on in your ABM journey, Andy warns. “Technology is an enabler, ABM is the strategy.”

For the lion’s share of time, the only tech you’ll really need is CRM – which Andy also points out will only be as good as the information you afford it. Fujitsu’s success with ABM evidences this theory, having worked on a successful programme in their first few years with nothing but spreadsheets and pen and paper.