3 Secrets to Superior Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing masthead, depicting young professionals talking about marketing

Account-based marketing seems simple. After all, it’s in the name, isn’t it? You pick an account. You pick your offer. You send the offer. You get the leads.

It sounds good on paper, I’ll give you that much. But according to Megan Heuer, Vice President, Research at SiriusDecisions, successful account-based marketing requires a bit of a shift.

Because when it comes down to it, as trendy as account-based marketing is, it’s all about the numbers. Or is it?

ABM is a combination of math and a personality test

The core tenets of account-based marketing are pretty simple.

“Don’t waste time and don’t waste money,” said Heuer at LeanData’s SaaStr 2018 Executive Lunch. “Don’t irritate your customers and don’t irritate yourselves.”

As far as manifestos go, that one’s straightforward.

After all, choosing the wrong accounts to target wastes time and irritates customers. And when that happens, you waste time … and irritate yourself.

(Not to mention jeopardize all that future revenue when you target the wrong accounts. Yikes.)

That’s why there’s definite right and wrong answers in account-based marketing. Just as there are in math.

“As a sales and marketing organization, you should always be looking at account-based marketing campaigns as math problems,” continued Heuer. “There’s an answer. You can get it wrong. But if you start with the math problem, you get to a better place.”

Finding the answer to account-based marketing

But math, as Heuer said, doesn’t tell you why you should do something, or what you should do, or what you should care about.

In fact, you can look at the actual “math”—the conversion rates, the clickthrough rates—and get lost in small, incremental improvements that won’t make a significant impact to your bottom line.

That’s where the “personality test” part of account-based marketing comes in. No matter how granular your data, just numbers aren’t a substitute for research. User research, or “personality tests,” can help you develop user personas that are based on a real understanding of your customers.

And in turn, the data and insights will change not only your account-based marketing efforts, but also the way you engage with your prospects—possibly (and perhaps even ideally) influencing your entire branding strategy.

Armed with properly researched account-based marketing campaigns and branding, you’ll start to share tailored materials that your prospects are more likely to care about. And if you do, they’ll be more likely to care about you.

Today, we’ll share three key insights on how to do that, straight from Megan Heuer at the LeanData SaaStr 2018 Executive Luncheon.

Account-based marketing needs an account-based mindset

Your business needs to understand not just its addressable problem, but also its addressable people.

That might sound self-explanatory, said Heuer, but a people-first mindset is a key variable of your account-based marketing math problem.

Say you have a product that happens to save your customers a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money, because it’s got some revolutionary feature you can’t wait to market.

But as Samuel Hulick of notes in “Features vs. Benefits,” your company shouldn’t sell a product so much as it should sell the person that the product helps the prospect become. Says Hulick, “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.”

Know what you want vs. know what your customers want

Here’s what that means for account-based marketing. You know what you want: to advertise your feature.

But more importantly, you need to know what your customers want—making sure buyers are not only engaged, but engaged in the ways you want them to be.

So when you’re creating your account-based marketing offer or when you’re communicating with personalized messaging to your target accounts, remember your account-based mindset to go with your account-based marketing.

Don’t focus so hard on your product features. Focus on the people your product helps them become.

Account-based marketing can be done with the skills you have

“CMOs tell us that the biggest variable against ABM is whether their teams have the knowledge to do it,” said Heuer. But the thing is, you don’t need new people: you just need to check out the vast array of resources on account-based marketing.

Thankfully, account-based marketing has been around so long, there’s a definite playbook to it. (And we’re not just talking about LeanData’s Complete DIY Guide to Account-Based Marketing.)

In other words, skillset—and skills—are fixable problems.

The numbers behind account-based marketing adoptees

But that’s not what everyone thinks. In fact, 80 percent of marketing organizations have expressed interest in account-based marketing (as evidenced by our State of Lead Management Report). But only 10 percent continue to use account-based marketing one year after the fact.

We can chalk this up to poor data, or just plain lack of people power. But to prevent that from being about skill set, let’s go over some critical resources for account-based marketing from our partners at Inverta and LeadMD:

Fire Up the Band: A Dead Simple Account Planning Framework for ABM

Rethinking Segmentation at the Account Level

ABM or JGM (Just Good Marketing)

How to Build, Maintain and Rock Your ABM Database

You’ve got everything you need for account-based marketing

You’ve got your head in the right place.

You’ve got your people learning the right things.

Now you just need the right tools.

And—surprise!—you don’t need new tech for this.

Dig into those sales emails

“Tech we do have from four, five years ago allow you to deliver on your math problem,” said Heuer. “You can know exactly who to go after, how to keep track, and make use of the personality test. You can send messages to people who care about you, when they care about it. It’s a huge, critical opportunity.”

That said, you want the right tools for your math problem. Certain tools, especially those that dive into profiles with automated research, can be inaccurate.

You want to find tools that offer new ways of gathering data, or at least tools that make the most of the data you have already. That will let you create highly personalized messaging that’s specific to people’s roles … and help you avoid dirty databases.

At LeanData, of course, we use LeanData Matching, which lets us match leads to accounts with a powerful matching algorithm. That gives us a holistic power of each opportunity, so combined with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo, sales can surgically target prospects. All that, without the help of marketing.

We also use LeanData Routing, which lets us route each prospect to the right rep at the right time—so that we can get to matching and selling as soon as possible.

Timing is everything

To summarize, when you do account-based marketing, you need to know exactly who to go after, how to keep track of them, and when to go after them … and to do that, you need to have the right mindset, the right skillset, and the right toolset.

And all three of those pieces make up the larger equation of ABM: the math problem and the personality test. Because account-based marketing goes beyond just numbers—success is measured by conversions, sure, but to get those conversions, you need to sell prospects not just on features, but on the people your features help them become.

With that in mind, you can send the right messages and deliver on your critical opportunities for every account-based marketing campaign.

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