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Scaling your ABM with a 1 to few approach

Many businesses that run ABM programmes have started with a 1:1 approach for their tier 1 strategic accounts. This approach makes sense; however, a year or three in, and many companies are asking themselves how can they scale their programme. How can they reach tier 2 accounts, who are often even harder for sales to influence by themselves? Especially in this economic environment, how can their budget go further? 

The answer could lie in a 1:few programme. 

The key to delivering 1:few well, is getting the balance right between personalisation, specificity and speed of execution. It would be all too easy to spend six months stuck in the strategy phase without getting to market, if you didn’t have the right mindset and approach. 

So here is a practical guide to the key elements to consider.

1. Strategy and insights phase

The foundation of a successful 1:few programme lies in the strategy and insights phase, a six to eight week period that lays the groundwork for the entire campaign.

Understanding success metrics

Before diving into account-specific insights, it is vital to establish success metrics that align with your sales and marketing objectives. Typically, these metrics revolve around reputation, relationships, and revenue. In pilot projects, focus more on reputation and relationships, supplemented by creating a scalable template and demonstrating key success metrics to senior stakeholders.

Insights and data

We recommend you develop an account selection matrix. This will include standard metrics such as value to the business, x-sell and up-sell opportunities but should also contain metrics that help you identify likely interest and or need for your services e.g. networks, key initiative alignment, news stories. You are looking to identify a cohort – a group of 15 to 30 accounts that have shared characteristics. Accounts that don’t fit the group, should be removed from the cohort and either identified as targets for your 1:1 programme, or a second cohort. Account selection, when it comes to your 1:few programme, should absolutely not be a ‘wish list’ from sales or any individual in your team as this will result in fragmentation and a level of complexity that is impossible to deliver against. 

Once your cohort is identified, to drive your strategy effectively, gather account-specific insights through a combination of sales input and secondary research. Use a templated approach to speed up the process, capturing key information such as value to the business, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and other indicators of interest or need. 

Creating the ‘Why X’ message

Identify common ground among your target accounts by pinpointing shared needs, outcomes, or niche personas. This ‘Why X’ message will serve as the basis for your cohort messaging, creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your target audience.

Designing the GTM

In the final stage of the strategy section, design your go-to-market (GTM) plan, considering budget, channels, and audience reach, as per any effective campaigns. Embrace a balanced combination of inbound and outbound tactics (leveraging all your existing activity such as executive engagement to events will give your campaign greater depth, help manage budgets and speed up delivery), aligning them with your target accounts’ buying cycle and whether you are targeting acquisition or existing accounts. You will ideally want to seek out the tools that can support you in delivering personalised content, at scale, efficiently.

2. Scale and activate

Once your ABM strategy is in place, it’s time to scale and activate your campaign with focus on efficiency:

  • 80/20 rule for content creation: 
    • Aim for a templated approach to content creation, balancing consistency (80%) with personalisation (20%) for each individual account within a cohort. This approach allows you to create multiple atomised content pieces from a single hero asset, maximising your outreach. 
  • Strategic activation:
    • Your activation plan will largely depend on your GTM strategy and channels. Aim for an average of 13 to 20 touch points with each contact throughout the year. For instance, if you’re utilising outbound email, you will need to ensure that sales are aligning their social selling efforts and sales calls for effective follow-up.
  • Effective reporting:
    • Every company tech stack is different so you will need to leverage what you have access to, but wherever possible seek automation. In an ideal world, integrated digital toolkits like Folloze provide valuable insights into not just email data but also content engagement, per target buyer, per account – allowing you to quickly identify hot prospects and share crucial information with your sales team. We suggest you base your reporting around the 3R’s (reputation, relationships, revenue).

3. Optimise

Success of implementation takes more than sales and marketing alignment. Like any change you can’t do it in a silo, and expect everyone else to fall in line behind you. ABM by nature involves multiple teams from marketing, to BDRs, AMs, GAMs, CX, operations and customer success/customer management. And let’s not forget the importance of ensuring the exec team are onboard with KPIs and results too.

All the classic principles of organisational change management apply.

👉EMOTION: Win the hearts and minds with clear communication and tap into each teams driver for ‘why’.
👉ENGAGEMENT be clear in the ‘what’ and ‘when’.
👉EFFICIENCY put the right processes in place to answer the ‘how’.
👉EFFECTIVENESS coach, support and course-correct where needed throughout the journey.

We call it ‘change consultancy’ and every ABM programme whether 1:1/few or many should consider this a key part of success. We also suggest you pay close attention, if your ABM efforts have started with a 1:1 programme because expectation setting with sales in particular, will be a key success factor. 

Summing it all up

From the beginning, efficiency in the way you work as a team has to be paramount. Think of the level of time and complexity that could occur in gathering insights on 30 accounts and adapting each email/piece of content for that account. Without the right templates and tools, this would be an onerous task. Rather than take your 1:1 processes and adapt them, start with a fresh sheet of paper. This framework is based on deep operational experience in delivering these programmes, so is a great place to start. 

Seeblue are a specialist ABM agency & Propolis member. If you have any questions, or want to delve deeper into anything discussed here, contact [email protected] 

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