Last week’s blog post took a deep dive into how our sales and marketing teams developed, implemented, and optimized an account based marketing (ABM) strategy to gain adoption for ZoomInfo’s FormComplete. In this post, we look beyond the logistics of the program and illustrate how to bring your own ABM strategy to life by reviewing the 4 biggest takeaways from our campaign.
Takeaway #1: No matter what the initiative, account based marketing works.
Look, this may seem like a dumb point to lead with, but it’s true. In a matter of 90 days, our qualified pipeline for FormComplete skyrocketed by 114%. Even better, our customer base grew by 30%. Pretty awesome stuff.
As Bob Peterson, Research Director in the Account-Based Marketing category at SiriusDecisions, told us in a Q&A last month, “From opportunity creation, acquisition, and even existing customer relationships, our conversations with sales and marketing leadership indicate astounding proof of concept. For some color, one organization has told us that since implementing ABM, they’ve seen their pipeline grow by 200%. Another said the strategy has led to a 20% increase in average deal size.”
So, why is ABM taking off?
For sales and marketing teams, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to cut through the noise and reach potential customers. Broad-based tactics still work, but ABM requires organizations to tailor an overall strategy to speak to specific companies and their needs.
As you can imagine, creating that upfront account-first personalization doesn’t happen overnight and demands legwork. But whether you’re trying to penetrate an entirely new vertical, execute a go-to-market strategy, or cross-sell a new feature to your existing customer-base, ABM can yield phenomenal results.
Takeaway #2: Forget the bells and whistles, all you need to kick-start your ABM program is company-wide commitment and access to data
The backbone of any ABM strategy is market intelligence.
“Data and intelligence are the lifeblood of account-based programs,” writes Tom Scearce, an analyst from TOPO, a sales and marketing advisory firm. “It starts with having complete data on the key target accounts. Account intelligence shared across multiple organizations informs account personalization. Data automation is essential for the build-out, appending, and cleansing of the target list.”
Key stakeholders throughout the entire company must collaborate to understand what defines your ideal customer profile (ICP) for whatever ABM initiative you’re trying to launch. It could be a specific industry, technology-based (e.g. how we targeted Marketo users), a financial metric (Customer Lifetime Value; Churn Rate, etc.), or more basic firmographic characteristics (revenue, number of employees in a specific department, location, etc).
Whatever criteria you land on, after establishing your ICP, you should engage a market intelligence provider (like ZoomInfo!) who can map your benchmarks to its database and quickly deliver the accounts that make up your Total Addressable Market (TAM).
Takeaway #3: Companies buy, but people decide.
I cannot stress this point enough: Put precedence on getting access to the buyer personas employed at the accounts you select. This means the ACTUAL employees who are likely to buy or influence the buying of your product or service.
Notice how I included influencers? According to CEB, the average B2B decision-making group includes 5.4 buyers. This jives with SiriusDecisions’ B2B Buying Decision Process Framework, which breaks down various scenarios:
Again, we were able to use ZoomInfo as a catch-all solution here. First, we used the Company Attributes feature to easily identify our universe of accounts. Then, as we kicked off our program, we asked sales to use ZoomInfo to pull 4-5 relevant contacts for each assigned account.
Personalization still wins, of course. And ZoomInfo’s sales solutions are able to give sales reps everything they need to truly understand who they are reaching out to, from essential contact information to other relevant details, like employment and academic history, professional certifications, and more.
Takeaway #4: ABM improves sales and marketing alignment, which pays dividends in future initiatives.
If you’re a marketing professional, chances are, you’ve experienced the following scenario: You get an awesome lead; it’s not followed up on properly, and you end up really annoyed. It’s not necessarily sales’ fault; they may have different goals that don’t align with marketing’s lead generation tactics.
Either way, the gap between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) widens and resentment builds. Good times!
With ABM, both sales and marketing have to be on the same page. It’s the only way the strategy works. In fact, according to a 2015 Heinz Marketing report on “Account-Based Marketing Adoption,” 70% of companies with ABM strategies said their sales and marketing teams were mostly or completely aligned, compared with 51% of those that didn’t use ABM.
With ZoomInfo’s campaign, marketing had to provide sales with support throughout every stage of the funnel, in the form of testing messaging and even offering account-specific content enablement. Sales, conversely, communicated what was (and wasn’t) resonating with our buyer personas.
Think about the trickle effect here. Not only does this exercise help sales close more business, but it gives marketing insights into the buying process. Everybody wins.
Want to execute a successful account-based marketing strategy? Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more.