The advantages of account based marketing are obvious: greater focus and specialization lead to increased quality, attention, and clarity.
But without discipline and follow-through, the smaller universe of prospects means that each missed opportunity is a big blow.
That said, here are 10 rules practitioners of account based marketing must follow:
- Understand the logic of named accounts – An account based approach requires a logical set of rules to select which accounts belong on the “named” list. While this could be as simple as industry and employee size, having buy-in and acceptance of the guidelines is key.
- Build a process to review exceptions – Understanding why an account doesn’t belong is just as important as knowing why another does belong in the named account list. Since a decent percentage of inbound leads will belong to companies outside of the named list, you must build a process to review exceptions to decide whether to add certain companies as named accounts, and to understand whether the named account criteria should be adjusted.
- Understand the roles involved in the buying process – Since the account based model significantly shrinks the number of target companies, it is critical to understand which roles within named accounts are involved in the purchase cycle. In the B2B software world, this often includes the primary user of the software, the economic buyer, the purchase approver, an IT person, and so on. As each person involved in the purchase decision has his or her own motivations and requirements, understanding what each participant wants and needs cannot be understated and must be addressed throughout the funnel. ‘One size fits all’ is dead. Condolences.
- Do not ignore contacts from named accounts – This should be the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth, but is worth stating. If you are doing all the work to attract contacts from named accounts to visit your site, download content, ask for a call, etc., don’t let that effort go to waste by ignoring people from your target accounts. Even if the person isn’t from the right department or has a suboptimal title, you’re bound to learn something from engaging with them; at the very least, you’ll understand more about the organization. At best, ask for a warm introduction to someone up the chain.
- Never let the database go stale – Depending on who you’re asking, data either goes bad at 5% per month or higher. Pounding the same database over and over without getting rid of bounces and people who have left the company is a recipe for disaster. At best, you’re wasting effort. At worst, you’re ensuring a trip to the spam filter of death and disillusionment.
- Don’t propose on the 1st date – You may get lucky by talking to someone the first time they engage with your brand. You may be talking to the right person at the exact right time and they may beg you to take their money. Probably not. Instead, it takes time for a prospect to believe they have a problem worth solving, that there’s some urgency, and that you have a viable solution. Rather than trying to get the sale top of funnel, it is important to……
- Look for every opportunity to add value – The absolute best example of a company that does nurturing well is HubSpot. Their #1 rule in all of their content is to help prospects do their job. They do so by adding value at every step, giving free downloads, templates, and best practices. They do so without asking for anything in return, knowing the importance of being seen as a company that understands their market. Once a prospect has been favorably exposed to HubSpot, they’re much more likely to use the HubSpot software down the line.
- Track everything and report on that which is actionable – Track every interaction and activity along the buyer’s journey. Understand which set of actions make prospects convert throughout the funnel and in what sequence they do so. Then report on that which is able to drive action. Leave out the rest.
- Warm up leads for sales – With a well-defined, segmented database of contacts with challenges you understand, it is up to marketing to deliver compelling and insightful content that adds value and gives leads a positive impression of your brand.
- Make intelligent use of technology to cover named accounts – Use technology to scale intimacy and understand what works.
Photo via Scott Costello Lucky Ducks – Minnesota State Fair