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The Journey to Effective ABM: Conducting a Diagnostic Assessment

In the first installment of our series of account-based marketing (ABM) posts, The Journey to Effective ABM, LeanData offered up a mea culpa. Despite producing some of the most important sales tech stack components necessary for account-based strategies, LeanData has had a checkered past with its very own deployment of account-based initiatives.

While LeanData has had some ABM success, it has come despite its strategic framework and execution, not because of it. Too often, the ABM motion at LeanData has endured multiple starts and stops, and this time we’re committed to its sustained success.

To that end, LeanData has contracted with Winning by Design, a global B2B revenue consulting and training company with proven experience in empowering recurring revenue teams to architect sustainable growth. 

Eventually, LeanData will work with Winning by Design to deploy “account-based plays,” generating a larger, more consistent pipeline from targeted accounts. But, any thoughts on plays, even the most preliminary of thoughts, is premature, and putting the cart before the horse.

The first step in the LeanData/Winning by Design collaboration is conducting a diagnostic assessment of the current account-based status quo at LeanData, identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. 

Conducting an account-based strategy (ABS) assessment

The ABS assessment was a four-week project undertaken with Winning by Design to evaluate LeanData’s account-based strategy across key areas of maturity. Using both qualitative and quantitative data from stakeholder interviews and documentation, the project drove toward a detailed analysis of account-based strategy and prospecting programs across:

  • Account targeting
  • Prospecting skills
  • Metrics
  • Tech stack
  • Program orchestration
  • Measurement

Winning by Design’s origins lie in sales training, and the firm later expanded into first, developing sales playbooks, and then into consulting with Marketing and Customer Success functions as well. Today they are a full-service consulting and training company with GTM assessment and process design services for recurring revenue businesses like LeanData’s.

The first step in every engagement is conducting a diagnostic assessment, and this first step is not just the most important step, but often the most difficult too. The assessment diagnoses issues with the customer organization, and it’s important to identify root causes of issues rather than symptoms. Treating a symptom never addresses the underlying root cause. 

We’ll get into more details, below, but at a high level, the completed diagnostic determined that all of the components for a strong ABS program at LeanData exist to some degree, but they could be matured and orchestrated better to drive success, especially in the Emerging Enterprise (1,001-4,500 employees) and Large Enterprise (>4,500 employees) segments.

It’s important to there are definitely foundational strengths to build upon. In revamping its ABM motions, there’s no sense in LeanData tossing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak.

However, there were certainly areas identified to improve upon. Most importantly, Winning by Design discovered that LeanData was misapplying a GTM model to its Enterprise segments. Sales and Marketing teams were generating plenty of activity – and their associated costs – but producing varying degrees of effectiveness in the Enterprise segments.

Primary recommendations from the diagnostic assessment included:

  • Leverage a GTM model appropriate for engaging enterprise accounts
  • Expand and unify target account lists
  • Increase orchestration and alignment between teams
  • Improve measurement of account-based strategies

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get started.

A one-sized GTM model does not fit all markets

Led by its chief marketing officer, Doug Bell, LeanData had previously identified a key root cause to varying levels of performance in the Enterprise segment when it noted the same GTM model was being deployed for all its segments. 

LeanData has excelled in its Emerging Commercial (<250 employees) and Middle Market (251-1,000 employees) segments. The large majority of LeanData’s over 800 customers fall into those two categories. And, while there have been noticeable big wins in the Large Enterprise segment, the qualified pipeline in the segment is inconsistent and remains a challenge. 

Winning by Design’s diagnostic assessment validated the assessment of LeanData’s senior management team. Currently, all of LeanData’s prospective accounts are engaged with a two-stage GTM model, combining traditional marketing programs and an active sales development team (SDRs). This two-stage approach is appropriate for smaller commercial accounts, but does not address the complex buying cycles of enterprise accounts.

The recommendation is to develop a separate GTM model for Enterprise accounts. This model is to include a consistent target account list, more one-to-one engagements and tailored, personalized plays – encompassing both field sales and marketing – to create pipeline in this segment.

LeanData’s ABS diagnostic score

So, foundational strengths exist, and a need to deploy diverse GTM motions has been confirmed. With that in mind, where does LeanData need to improve?

The answer lies in making incremental improvements … most everywhere.

Let’s take a deeper look at four specific recommendations based on the diagnostic assessment..

Develop a consistent target account list

Currently, LeanData’s targeted account list is populated with companies hand-picked by account executives (AEs), interspersed with several accounts with intent based on a loose ideal customer profile (ICP). A consistent, tiered target account list developed with a data-driven approach will better engage LeanData’s next best customers over time. 

Increase orchestration between teams

Within the existing organizational structure, LeanData needs to increase team orchestration and alignment between AEs, SDRs and Marketing with a defined target account list, team design, weekly team syncs and key performance indicator (KPI) measurements. 

Mature play sophistication

Currently, SDRs conduct account research based on an ICP and then run GTM plays. LeanData would benefit from maturing play sophistication with better value exchanges, segment targeting and more orchestration between Marketing and AEs.

Improve ABS measurement

LeanData should leverage its existing technology and account-based analytics to improve measurement of awareness and engagement within its target account list. Defined KPIs and measurement will increase pipeline generated from target accounts.

With the diagnostic assessment feeding objective analysis to the LeanData team, it’s now time to get to work on developing and deploying corrective actions. With ABM, it starts with developing target account lists on which to base prospecting. 

Currently, LeanData is in the process of developing its initial target account list, and that process will be covered in the third post of this Journey to Effective ABM series. Stay tuned!

Sharing the journey to effective ABM

This post is the second in our series of articles that chronicles LeanData’s journey to finally getting account-based strategies right once and for all. While it’s early days for the series, our aim is to share our learning for the benefit of your learning, resulting in a rising tide that lifts all our boats. 

Please check out other ABM-themed posts in our ongoing series:

  • abm
  • ABS
  • ABX
  • account based marketing
  • Account-Based Strategy
About the Author
Ray Hartjen

Ray Hartjen is an experienced writer for the tech industry and published author. You can connect with Ray on both LinkedIn & Twitter.