In this episode, we discussed:
- The strategy that makes up ABM
- How ABM changes your marketing and sales processes
- How to implement account-based sales development
- A real-life example of ABSD
Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*
The Birth of “Spear-Fishing”
“I started my career in marketing technology at Exchange in the 1990’s, moved to Epiphany during the technology bubble, then co-founded Marketo in 2006, where I was the original CMO there, and helped them to grow to IPO.
“I left in 2015 and stared Engagio. Marketo’s platform is really good for fishing with nets. You don’t care what kind fish you catch; you’re concerned with how many fish you catch. That works well if you’re trying to catch lots of small fish. But when you have a list of named accounts — the big fish — it doesn’t make sense to fish with a net.
“You have to find a way to reach out to those big fish instead of waiting for them to come to you. It’s more like fishing with spears. What we’re trying to do with Engagio is be the platform for fishing with spears.”
Account-based marketing is a strategy, not a tactic.
“Marketing has traditionally been a lead-centric activity, while sales has traditionally been an account-centric activity. Sangram [Vajre, of Terminus] says that at the end of the month sales doesn’t talk about how many leads they’ve closed, they talk about how many accounts they’ve closed. This creates a disconnect between the two departments.
“ABM is just marketing stepping up and saying ‘Alright, we’ll focus on accounts, too. In particular, we’ll put more of our energy into key accounts that sales thinks are more valuable, and by being more focused, we can be more personalized, relevant, and effective.’
“It’s good old-fashioned target account marketing at a greater scale.”
Account-based marketing is a misnomer.
“As I’ve worked with this idea over the last 18 months or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that ABM is the wrong name and the wrong way to describe this business process. If all you have is marketing at your disposal, if all you are doing is account-based advertising and direct mail and email blasts and holding dinners, you’re not really going to connect with all the decision-makers at your target account. You’ll only get about 15 percent penetration if you’re just doing marketing by itself.
“The tip of the spear is your sales and sales development teams. If you really want to engage these key accounts, you have to send them human emails and have human interactions.
“So I’ve come to the realization that the problem with ABM is that it’s just marketing. If you’re a marketer who says ‘We’re doing ABM,’ then you’re in fact telling the sales team, ‘This is my thing, we’re doing account based marketing — sales, you can keep doing what you’re doing.’ All that does is create more silos. I wanted a name for this that was bigger and more strategic, which is how I arrived at account-based everything.”
Account-Based Sales Development
“Account-based sales development is a piece of the broader account-based everything approach. There’s a three-step process:
- Who: Identify which accounts I want to go after. Tier those accounts, and discover the key people in those accounts.
- What: Understand those accounts and people so you can personalize your interactions and be more relevant and effective.
- Where: Orcheste outbound interactions across departments and channels.”
“Where does ABSD fit in? The whole organization should be aligned on the list of accounts:
- Account selection: Sales because you want them to be excited for the upcoming engagement.
- Research: depends on the tier of the account, meaning some tier 1 strategic accounts where you need a lot of in-depth data will probably need marketing and executives. Tier 2 and 3 accounts will have lighter research and lower involvement, so the sales development team can cover these accounts.
- Coordinating Plays: Shared between different departments including marketing, sales, sales development, and even executives with relevant, personalized messages.”
Words of Wisdom for Scaling
“This comes back to the tiered accounts. The top tier, where every interaction and campaign is customized to the account, doesn’t scale well because it requires people and human capital to scale, but the ROI is so great that you only need a couple of those accounts.
“That’s why tier 2 and tier 3 are so important, because while you may only have a handfull of tier 1s, you can have dozens or hundreds of tier 2 accounts. You’re nurturing and grooming these accounts to become ready soon after research. Tier 3 can scale, as you are not personalizing down to the specific account level. You buy ads, but everyone is seeing the same ad. There is some industry and persona personalization, but it doesn’t have to be more detailed than that.”
An Example of Tier 1 and 2 Personalization
“Engagio is sending a package to 300 of our tier 1 and 2 accounts with copies of my book and goodies for not just the contact, but also the key people in the account. It’s a $50 package, and you’re only going to send them to the best accounts; you can’t send that to everyone. Why wouldn’t you also spend three minutes to write them a customized note? If they’re worth a $50 package, they’re also worth that extra time. That personalization and relevance distinguishes what you’re doing with your tier 1 and 2 accounts.”
B2B Nation is a podcast for B2B sales and marketing professionals, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on SoundCloud, or follow us on Twitter: @Technology_Adv.