At times I think we’re living in an unprecedented era as Marketers when it comes to the tools and technology allowing us to reach and understand our target audience. Yet other times, it feels like we’re living in the dark ages, as these tools allow every Marketer to blast the world with so much noise that no one pays attention.
Account-based Marketing attempts to rise above the noise to create personalized, meaningful experiences that demonstrate a deep understanding of challenges facing a set of companies. However, there are 7 obstacles facing any organization taking an account-based marketing approach.
1. Imbalance Between Personalization and Automation
Mike Troiano describes the challenge of balancing personalization and automation as “Scalable Intimacy.” From an interview:
What customers want is intimacy… they expect to be understood as individuals, and to be treated like people. What marketers want is scale, the ability to touch lots of people at the most efficient CPM possible. The reason to get excited about social marketing is that it offers the promise of “Scalable Intimacy,” really the first medium to do so.
When it comes to Account-based Marketing, there has to be a balance between exhibiting a personal interest in the prospect and being able to touch enough of them. While I would love to send handwritten notes to all prospects in named accounts, that’s probably not possible. There has to be a balance.
2. Reliance on Inaccurate Data
An issue as old as Marketing itself, the success of all outbound activity relies on the accuracy of the data you have. Sending super specific offers based on job title, industry, and buying cycle stage is wonderful…..if you actually have data you can rely on.
I can’t tell you how many emails I get that are insanely personalized up until they reference a company I left 5 years ago. That immediately turns me off, and I unsubscribe. Harsh? Yep.
3. Uncertainty of Roles and Responsibilities
Who owns prospecting? Is it sales? Marketing? Who owns sending a daily update to account owners when their accounts make headlines that would be relevant in outreach? Who sets up meetings to discuss what approaches are working in named accounts? Who decides which accounts are in the named list?
The answer doesn’t matter. Having an answer is what matters.
4. Lack of Account Knowledge
In order to produce account-specific campaigns, you need to know what initiatives are happening within the account. If there’s an account that is actively seeking to solve a problem your solution is perfect for, that’s wonderful…if you know they’re looking.
This one is a bear. It’s tough to know what’s going on inside another company when you’re not in their walls. It takes a lot of effort and time to have enough information to be able to kick out relevant campaigns. But when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing.
5. Communication Gaps Across Geographies and Business Units
Another tough one. If you’re in a company large enough to have global coverage with multiple products, it’s insanely difficult to make sure you’re on the same page with colleagues overseas and in different business units. When someone in Australia finds out that a large global account has an initiative that may be solved by a different business unit in Canada, there has to be a process in place to make the handoff warm and clear.
6. Inability to Track, Tweak, and Attribute Success
Just committing to an account-based approach isn’t enough. Being able to track what’s working, tweak things along the way, and prove successes is the only way account-based Marketing will work. And while spray and pray marketing is largely inefficient in an enterprise model, at least all activities are easily trackable. But it can be a nightmare to track how a handwritten note translates to an opportunity and subsequent sale. Because without proper tracking, you’ll be hindered by…
7. Organization Impatience
One of the hardest things about an account-based approach is the idea that you won’t see immediate results. And if expectations are not properly set at the beginning, it’s entirely possible to give up before things start to work.
There’s no silver bullet. Simply moving to an account-based marketing approach won’t immediately lead to an influx of signed deals overnight. However, if you commit to account-based marketing knowing the obstacles you are certain to face, you’ll have a much better shot at getting it right.