What Account Based Marketing Approach Should You Take?

March 24, 2014 Debbie Margulies


As originally posted on DemandGenReport

Marketers are once again in the hot seat — this time to show how they can align with sales on a target account selling approach. Just how well are your sales and marketing organizations aligned at the account level?

Marketing automation has brought out an entirely new level of sophistication in terms of scaling demand generation efforts for B2B organizations, but it seems to be coming full circle. The promise of marketing automation has been to get the right message, to the right person, at the right time. While it has gotten us a lot closer to that reality, it still falls short. Because at the end of the day, there are simply too many variables, and in our attempt to be relevant to everyone we end up relevant to no one.

A realization many sales and marketing leaders have made is that the data and technology available presents an interesting opportunity. If organizations take a step back, and look at aligning sales and marketing to the same account strategy, then marketing can be a lot more effective at delivering initiatives that directly support the sales process and better at increasing revenue velocity as well as deal size.

Though account based targeting is not new to sales, getting marketing aligned to the initiative at scale, is. According to Alterra Group, 84% of marketers also find that account based marketing provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding existing client relationships, and 97% say that it delivers a higher ROI than other marketing methods.

With automation and the right set of data and routing tools, marketing can be instrumental in helping sales incrementally improve how accounts are targeted. Narrowing the firmographics of those accounts over time, while helping to increase the size of deals through relevant, targeted content, marketing can help sales improve their account-based selling approach engaging everyone involved in the decision making process.

So what account based approach should you take? There are four main account based selling strategies:

Enterprise Accounts: Enterprise accounts are typically companies with more than 1,000 employees and generally $500M+ in revenues. Having a designated sales and marketing team focused on enterprise accounts, is not uncommon. Due to the limited pool of enterprise accounts as well as the sheer size and complexity of most of these deals, companies that target enterprise organizations also invest driving a lot of revenue from a small number of companies. Marketing can help support sales in enterprise accounts, by delivering constant engagement and helping to boost interest in other products or services for one account based on prospect behavior in various departments. The CEO or executive leadership tends to be involved in the deals as well, aligning to the strategic objectives of each enterprise’s needs.

Customer Accounts: From a demand generation perspective, companies typically focus on the top of funnel, or net-new opportunities. Customers, however can be an extremely effective approach to strategic accounts because marketing can support the post sale experience, on-going engagement and customer success. While tracking engagement metrics throughout this process, marketing can help to speed up customer success behavior, as well as drive retention, cross selling and up-selling efforts for sales, at scale — identifying accounts with decreasing revenue, or highlighting accounts that have patterns of high-growth opportunity.

Industry-Specific Accounts: An account-strategy that’s based on industry can be a great opportunity to leverage existing customer success use-cases and stories. An industry-focused account strategy works really well if you have a group of customers within the market, or if you’re entering a new market. Recent studies show that prospects are mostly interested in customer stories and solutions that are relevant to their specific industry.

While job title, or company size may be a factor in their day to day, seeing how other companies in their same industry achieve success is extremely valuable to them. An industry-specific accounts strategy is a great way to leverage current customer stories, as well as scale up your account strategy — focusing on one industry at a time and arming sales reps with the tools they need to attack that market.

Target Accounts: A target accounts strategy is in a sense a hybrid approach. It can include enterprise accounts, but also tends to a have mix of companies in various industries, sizes, or customer types.

Target accounts are generally aligned with field sales organizations, and owned by the inside sales reps. Often, part of this strategy is building the list of contacts to penetrate the account. Target accounts are a good way to test messaging and approach.


4 Reasons Sales Should Align with Marketing at the Account Level

If you’re not already aligned with marketing on your account-strategy, here are 4 reasons why you should be:

1. Marketing will move more of their budget over to field sales: Whether by industry, region or company size, for marketing to fully support an account based strategy they would need to move more of their funds from broad-based marketing to direct targeted marketing, as well as resourcing field sales to align with sales on executing campaigns.

2. Marketing will help you find bigger opportunities: Since marketing has access to all the historic buyer data (implicit and explicit) they can really help to identify certain buyer behaviors, firmographics, and inflection points to drive sales towards reducing churn, and identifying the highest revenue probability accounts.

3. Marketing can provide the right set of tools: offers, templates, campaigns, etc. to support initiatives and allow for customization by vertical, geo, industry, etc.

4. Marketing can also help with CRM alignment: It’s important how these accounts will be identified. If this is not operationalized between sales and marketing processes and technology, you’re never really know what kind of traction you’re getting within the accounts you’re targeting.

Organizations that align sales and marketing against an account based strategy are seeing higher average deal sizes (sometimes 50% or higher) as well as greater engagement across the board from email opens to MQL conversions. Imagine how much easier it will be to get your annual budget approved when you can systematically show the traction you’re getting in target accounts.

Dan Ziman is the CMO at LeanData, which helps companies with account based selling to close deals faster and find upsell opportunities.

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