Ops-Stars Q&A: Target Key Accounts Using ABM with Joe Andrews

September 21, 2018 Maile Johnson

Ops-Stars takes place in San Francisco on Sept. 25-26, 2018. There, industry thought leaders and cutting-edge companies will share pragmatic advice and inspirational content for sales and marketing ops practitioners and leaders. 

We’re thrilled that Joe Andrews, VP of product marketing at InsideView, will be part of the Ops-Stars lineup. He along with InsideView’s CMO, Tracy Eiler, and its director of product management, Adam Perry, will deliver the session: “Target Key Accounts Using an Account-Based Strategy.”

We had the chance to talk with Joe and find out more about how to determine target accounts, best practices for preparing account-based marketing (ABM) data and what attendees will learn at his upcoming Ops-Stars session. Let’s get started. 

LeanData: How should sales and marketing teams work together to determine and select target accounts?

Joe Andrews: Sales and marketing alignment is a big challenge today – InsideView has done a lot of research on it. Selecting the right target accounts is the No. 1 challenge to alignment for B2B companies. 

ABM is a great forcing function to help drive better alignment, but sales and marketing teams first need to agree on the right target accounts to go after. Historically, salespeople came to marketing with a list of accounts that they wanted help breaking into, leaving marketing with very little say in the matter. Today, though, marketing can bring a lot of data to the account selection process. 

The starting point is to develop an ideal customer profile, or ICP, based on attributes that are most important to your company. For instance, is your focus on clients with highest contract value, renewal rates or something else? Then to define the ICP, you need to understand the firmographic characteristics of those best customers, e.g., industry, size and geographic location. 

If sales and marketing teams can agree on an ICP, then they can start to understand which accounts they should pursue. 

The next step is to build out your total addressable market, or TAM, that represents the total universe of companies that you should potentially target based on your ICP. More than half of B2B companies don’t regularly assess their TAM today. This is a big mistake. 

Once you’ve defined your TAM, sales and marketing teams can truly come together and say, “This is real data that shows us who we should target through our ABM programs.” The final selection is often based on where sales reps are, to ensure good territory distribution.

Let’s talk about some of the best practices for sales and marketing teams to prepare ABM data. 

Andrews: There are several important steps to prepare your data for ABM. A best practice is to first clean your company and people data. Data hygiene is an important step that’s often missed by companies since B2B data degrades very quickly as companies grow and shrink, and their firmographic data changes. The people at those companies also change as they get new jobs and they move on. 

The next step is to enrich and append firmographic information so you can build out your TAM. This involves filling in missing fields like industry or employee size so you can assess whether companies fit into your ICP and therefore qualify to be a part of your TAM. 

Then you’ll want to match your existing database against a comprehensive third party database to identify the “whitespace,” or all the accounts that you don’t have today. Then, identifying the right targets, both in your new whitespace as well as among your best customers, identifies the right accounts to go after. 

Finally, you’ll want to populate with the right target contacts based on the personas you sell to. These are what we’ve found to be the best data practices to get ready for ABM.

Can you give us an example of a company that’s doing it right?

Andrews: To truly do ABM well, your company needs to be fully aligned with its whole strategy from targeting the right accounts through program execution tactics and performance measurement. Most companies that we talk with today are in the very
early stages of ABM. There’s a lot of market hype around ABM, but the reality is 
most companies are just getting started. 

InsideView has talked with a handful of customers that are at the highest stage of ABM maturity and who exhibit strong alignment in both their strategy and execution. They’re also using data science to make decisions quickly, to test, learn, iterate and advance their organization’s capabilities. One example is Harvard Business Publishing, an InsideView customer, who exhibits these qualities. 

Another fascinating example of well-executed ABM comes from a SiriusDecisions case study on DXC Technology, an IT services company. DXC exhibits qualities of being very dominant in their go-to-market maturity, with enterprise-wide alignment. 

Their ABM program, which they call “Pursuit Marketing,” is extremely well planned in terms of identifying the right accounts to target and the program execution tactics to go engage the people at those accounts. 

For example, they purchased billboards that were close to a conference that was attended by individuals from their target accounts that they were trying to reach. 

Obviously, that’s an expensive investment, so you have to be sure the targeting is done well. And this is a company whose average selling price is high enough to afford that. The bottom line is that to execute something like that, you have to be extremely well aligned from strategy to execution.

What are attendees going to learn and take away from your session? 

Andrews: We’ll focus on the foundational and practical steps you can take to get your ABM program off to the right start, from identifying your ICP and defining and building out your TAM. You’ll walk away with an understanding of how to get your data prepared to be successful with ABM so you can go out and select the right target accounts. 

We’ll also share our own case study of how InsideView aligned our sales and marketing teams around our program strategy and selected our own target accounts, then executed and measured our ABM program success. 

If you want to learn how you can implement a successful ABM program in your company, come by “Target Key Accounts Using an Account-Based Strategy” session from 1:20 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2018 in the San Francisco Mint. Click here to register for Ops-Stars today (it’s free!). 



About the Author

Maile Johnson

Maile is the Senior Director of Demand Generation at LeanData. She loves the art and science of using data, technologies, and operations to deliver incredible customer experiences. When she's not generating demand for LeanData, you can find her either surfing or riding her horse.

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