We get a lot of questions about Account Based Marketing when we’re talking to clients, so we thought we’d bring some of those questions to the vlog so we can discuss them openly here and get your thoughts as well.
Q& A style, here we go:
Adam, one of the most frequent questions we get asked is about the ideal size of the program—as in the number of companies you should you target?
So the question is How many accounts does the average Account Based Marketing program target? What are the trends?
Most of the companies that Frost & Sullivan has worked with, typically start by targeting anywhere between 10 to 25 accounts for their ABM program.
They then typically scale up over time. But in the beginning, 10 to 25 is the normal starting point.
An interesting trend that we’ve seen with our clients is that the majority take a multi-tiered approach.
Tier 1 is ABM in its truest form or “Full Blown ABM”. Where you focus on 5 -10 key accounts, use deep research, a customized account plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and one-to-one communication. Automation is very limited, as all outreach is personalized.
Tier 2 is the “Mini ABM” approach where your next most important 40 – 50 accounts receive individual research, however its limited to just a few key points of information for each account. You won’t be using completely personalized communications and custom content, but will still deliver highly relevant interactions based on their persona and industry.
Tier 3 is the “Micro ABM” approach where you line up your next 150 or so target accounts. This bucket includes your target accounts that you don’t necessarily have the resources to personalize. ITSMA calls this Programmatic ABM. It’s essentially traditional marketing with account-level targeting and customization. The key difference is that instead of scoring leads, you track account-level engagement and wait until the account hits a sufficient threshold to label them an Marketing Qualified Account, instead of an MQL.
That’s so interesting. It just goes to show that Account Based Marketing really can be tailored to help you meet your goals and show a strong ROI either way.
The next debate or question we hear is around this—Is ABM a prospecting strategy or an account nurturing strategy?
That’s a very interesting question. I guess the way we see it right now with our clients is that it’s an 80/20 rule. 80 percent predominately for your existing top Customers, and 20 for prospects.
Over time this ratio may change. But clearly, I think the top key existing accounts are the ones that really need to be taken care of and nurtured. And eventually, you need to cross-sell and upsell these sort of accounts. But having said that, what we are also seeing is a lot of companies truly have started taking this approach to target the prospects, as I mentioned in Tier 3. So that before they go and talk to some of these customers they really understand their needs and challenges.
So – now it’s my turn to ask a few questions of you Nicole.
The third question we get is: How much of your overall marketing budget are you dedicating to ABM?
What we have seen is that very rarely would you see a company take a big bang approach. So typically they would start small. They would start with a few sets of accounts. So I think on an average $100K or maximum going up to $250K in terms of budget. But, over a period of time, once they see the value, that’s the time they would really start scaling up.
And to be honest, today ABM is turning out to be one of the most successful sales enablement tools available out there in the market. In one example, a large global company actually started off with just five accounts about 7 years ago as part of the ABM journey. They followed that multi-tiered approach you just mentioned and today they are tracking close to almost 1100 hundred accounts through this program.
Of course, the top accounts get the most attention and budgetary spend, but overall they spend a pretty good amount of money on this because it has been developed over 7-8 years. But they started small.
Wow, that is an incredible example of an organizations ability to substantially grow their ABM program.
The final question we’re going to discuss today is around research. We know that research is kind of the backbone of a successful Account-based marketing program. But, Why is research so important to an ABM program? Is that all?
You’re right that any successful ABM program is backed by in-depth research, but it will also include human intelligence and continuous monitoring. I’ll explain what I mean by those in a second.
First, we must remember that ABM is predominately meant for your key accounts. And these key accounts need to be nurtured. You need to protect these key accounts, and eventually, grow and define cross sell and up-sell opportunities. And this can only happen if you research, research, research about these key accounts.
In order for the sales teams to be effective, they need deep, 360-degree insight into an account, and that’s where the human intelligence and the monitoring activities come in, which is about connecting the dots.
A salesperson needs to read between the lines and apply the research insights to his or her personal insights about the account. He or she needs to have conversations, both internally and with the key account to validate and add context to what the research found.
In addition, the monitoring is about paying attention to your competitors’ moves. You need to make that first call before your competitor calls. So it’s all about proactive selling. And that’s where I think that all three aspects put together—research, human intelligence, and competitive monitoring –become really, really powerful in making any account-based marketing program a success for the long term.
That makes a lot of sense. I’m glad we were able to take a closer look at what makes an ABM program “best in class”. If you’re watching, please comment below with any additional questions you have about Account Based Marketing, and we’ll be sure to answer them!
So, until next time….Build your brand…
…and Drive demand!