Ask the expert: why is Account Based Marketing important and how can I do it effectively?
Greg Watts is our resident expert. He is the founder of Demand Creation Partners, a London-based growth consultancy that helps fintechs and paytechs to scale. A visiting lecturer at the American University in Paris and regular industry speaker, he was previously head of market acceleration at Visa Europe.
QUESTION: Why is Account Based Marketing important and how can I do it effectively?
Many fintechs aren’t maximising the potential of account-based marketing (ABM) when it comes to identifying and engaging with prospects.
Indeed, according to LinkedIn, 84% of businesses that use ABM for prospecting say it delivers a higher return on investment than traditional marketing.
So, what exactly is ABM and how can you do it effectively?
- What is Account Based Marketing?
When it comes to selling, inbound marketing is relatively easy as you’re selling to people who want to speak with you. They’ve been nurtured, understand your narrative, “get” your business and see value in buying from you.
However, many fintechs struggle to engage with large retailers, banks or payment-related companies. Specifically, they find it hard to identify and engage with key decision makers within these organisations.
That’s where ABM comes in.
Fundamentally, ABM is a way to align your sales and marketing teams to identify and appeal to target clients.
ABM isn’t new. It’s often called “whale hunting” or “key account marketing”. Whatever its name, ABM targets key decision makers in precise ways. The overall approach is creative yet uses tried-and-tested inbound techniques to capture attention.
When ABM is used alongside an inbound sales and marketing strategy, it can help fintechs find and partner with companies that are the best fit, and crucially, that they want to work with.
There are many benefits to investing in an ABM programme, including:
- Aligning and streamlining sales and marketing departments
- Reducing time to approach and nurture the most profitable leads
- Reducing conversion time per lead
- Building creative, targeted campaigns with a clear focus on return on investment (ROI)
- How do I do it?
When marketing and sales share a similar mindset on how to target and land key accounts, they’re rallying around a common goal. The first step is for representatives of these departments to co-develop an ABM strategy so that they can work as a joint account team.
At a high level, this means that marketing focuses its budget on the accounts that sales deems the most important.
Sales and marketing agree on common goals, messaging and content; execution methods; and metrics to evaluate success.
Critically, sales and marketing are jointly responsible and accountable for the effectiveness of the activities.
Here’s are seven steps to creating an account-based plan:
- Step 1 – Identify high value target accounts
- Step 2 – Map key decision makers and relevant stakeholders to accounts
- Step 3 – Define and create targeted campaigns
- Step 4 – Pinpoint optimal channels to reach individuals
- Step 5 – Develop a strategic playbook to clarify roles and responsibilities
- Step 6 – Execute the campaigns
- Step 7 – Measure and optimise
- Why do some ABM programmes fail?
It takes significant effort to launch an ABM programme. Some fintechs don’t fully invest in – or commit to – ABM, and as a result, fail to unlock its true potential. But why?
Failure to align on target accounts
It’s obvious that if sales and marketing don’t agree on the same targets, ABM will fail at the first hurdle. ABM works largely because of the combined muscle of marketing and sales resources focused on accounts with the most potential.
Lack of accurate shared data
Sharing prospect data goes hand in hand with identifying target accounts. According to InsideView, 43% of businesses state that the lack of accurate, shared data on target accounts is their biggest challenge to sales and marketing alignment. If marketing is using its marketing automation system of record and sales is using CRM to pinpoint target accounts, it’s no surprise the two groups will be out of sync.
Many fintechs want fast results. However, sales cycles often take up to 18 to 24 months for enterprise-sized deals. Although taking an ABM approach should significantly cut down sales cycles, realistic goals still need to be set from the start.
Until your ABM programme kicks into gear, you’re far more likely to see incremental improvements rather than business-changing results. As long as you maintain an upward trajectory, you’re on the right track.
Bringing it all together.
If your sales pipeline isn’t moving in the desired direction and your opportunities are taking too long to convert, it might be time to consider ABM.
The success of ABM is predicated on sales and marketing working in lock step to achieve common goals.
Performed correctly, ABM can cut down the time it takes to convert prospects; make more effective use of marketing funds; and improve relationships – and performance – among frontline teams.