Four common ABM myths busted

By now, most of us are familiar with the trendy term account-based marketing (ABM). At its core, ABM is used to nurture specific high-value accounts and reach stakeholders in a personalized manner, with the primary goal of generating more revenue and retention.

The focus is on the quality of engagements with your targeted accounts, but there’s nothing fundamentally new about the concept of ABM. For decades, highly profitable enterprises have been executing high-touch marketing programs and finding creative new ways to drive engagement with their brand.

Done well, its ROI is high — so it’s no wonder the popularity of ABM continues to grow. Recent research shows 56% of marketing departments plan to boost their resources (e.g., time, budget, personnel) to support an ABM strategy in 2018. Only 11% of marketing departments said they don’t plan to put any resources toward ABM this year.

At the same time, more than 50% of marketers said they need more education and best practices to improve or launch their ABM strategy and effectively set and measure KPIs.

Some of the demand for more education stems from confusion around ABM. As with any hot marketing trend, misinformation is rampant, and current myths about ABM’s purpose — and what it takes to execute it successfully — are everywhere.

We’re going to do our part to end the confusion and bust some of most common ABM myths.

Myth #1: ABM should only be used to grow existing accounts

ABM is about selling to a targeted list of high-value accounts, both existing and new. But regardless of whether the target is a current customer or a prospect, a comprehensive go-to market strategy — created in collaboration between sales and marketing — is necessary to yield success.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

What you do to engage each account can vary greatly depending on the brand. ABM allows you to focus on a narrower set of accounts that are crucial to driving your business forward, but it still requires a significant amount of creativity and personalization to influence both existing and prospect accounts. Bottom line: Don’t confuse account-based marketingwith selling.

The goal of ABM isn’t to simply sell products – it’s to influence the right stakeholders from the right accounts.

Myth #2: A successful ABM strategy requires a specialized team

Hiring a specialized team isn’t necessary, but creating a specialized approach is. You can leverage your existing marketing team to drive results in a new way. Chances are, someone on your marketing team is already targeting the accounts you selected for your ABM strategy.

But now, you can take a strategic approach and dedicate more time and resources to engage them in new, more effective ways.

Your strategy might include gathering customer insights for each account, or activating top sales reps to engage the executives in your targeted accounts. Ultimately, while the approach may be different, your existing marketing team can execute your ABM strategy, so long as they collaborate closely with sales.

In fact, alignment with the sales team is a must-have for any organization to successfully run an ABM program.

Myth #3: ABM success can’t be measured

ABM is about driving higher growth from your targeted list of accounts. The easiest way to measure success is to align with your sales team and determine which campaigns or tactics are driving the most growth.

For example, you can measure the number of meetings you set up with your ABM accounts, new contacts you’ve developed, or opportunities you’ve influenced.

At the very least, you can measure success by comparing growth of the accounts targeted through your ABM program to other accounts not targeted through ABM. And once you’ve reached your ABM goals, the momentum doesn’t stop there. It continues through nurturing relationships with the stakeholders in your targeted accounts so they become evangelists for your business and references for new prospects.

Myth #4: It’s only useful to deploy ABM if you’re going after large enterprises

False again! When ABM emerged, many marketers believed it was only worthwhile (from an ROI perspective) to target large accounts, because only those accounts could spend enough to justify the ABM investment.

However, ABM helps you target segments that you believe are most likely to convert and grow your business the fastest. If that’s the mid-market, then target those accounts. Businesses don’t have to be a certain size — in terms of revenue or employees — to drive your ABM strategy forward. But keep in mind that your marketing investment per account needs to make sense in the context of your potential return.

At the end of the day, ABM isn’t a new B2B marketing strategy, but we’re applying new terms and technologies to make it more effective. As marketing technology continues to evolve, there will be even more new, innovative ways for sales and marketing teams to execute successful ABM strategies.

Don’t let misperceptions limit your scope when using this approach to cultivate new and existing accounts.

– by Sanjay Castelino

New tool uses facial recognition to suggest customers products based on their reactions

Choosing a holiday can be difficult, there is literally a world of choices to pick from. What if technology could help you pick?

We are not talking about AI that suggests you options based on popular destinations for people your age, or based on previous holidays. A new tool being introduced by online travel company ebookers.com uses facial recognition and multisensory displays to suggest travel destination based on user reactions to being shown different options.

The SenseSational online tool works by showing the user video of various stages of the travel journey, and tracks their facial reactions and where their gaze. Recording this user data than allows it to calculate the findings and present the user with a set of personalised destinations to consider.

“New technology is revolutionising the travel sector and enabling our digital world to become a personalised, multi-sensory immersion that provides travellers with the vital ‘try before you buy’ experience,” explains Mark McKenna, Commercial Director at ebookers.com.

Travel in the digital age

Social media has changed the way that people share their travel experiences and plan where they want to go. Sites like Instagram are filled with a constant stream of real-time imagery and video content that lets people show how they have pushed their boundaries.

With SenseSational, ebooker.com is looking to tap into this key feature of the digital age. By seeing how consumers react to images and videos of different kinds of trips, the company should be able to provide better, more targeted services to its customers.

“SenseSational mimics this emotive storytelling and analyses the way we engage with certain textures, tastes and sounds, giving us an insight into how technology will continue to shape the consumer journey and help us form completely tailored travel experiences, engaging our senses every step of the way,” explains McKenna.

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

The age of SaaS: How sales is adopting marketing techniques

As businesses evolved from the mass-producing factories of the Industrial Age to the global, consumer-savvy forces they are today, so too have the techniques they’ve used to promote their products and services.

During the early half of the 20th century, companies believed it was necessary to show customers what they need but didn’t yet own – introducing us to the traveling encyclopedia sales rep cliche we’re all familiar with today.

But, as time continued and technology improved, consumers reacted less to hard sells and more to brands that seemed to understand their individual needs.

Eventually, marketing morphed into much of what we see today – data-driven analytics that create a narrow, personalized understanding of each customer to create targeted campaigns – while sales seemed to lag behind.

Consumers, including the clients of B2B products and services, want to build personal relationships with the brands they use. Despite being separate from marketing within an organization, sales teams have found great success using traditional marketing techniques to achieve the personal, long-lasting relationships that their clients want.

Data-driven sales process

Until recently, sales reps would reach out to prospects at the beginning of the sales process with the generic marketing materials handed out to all employees at an organization.

But, as SaaS subscription models became increasingly more popular, sales reps found that these tired concepts didn’t work when trying to establish relationships that would help retain clients year after year.

One trend that sales has successfully adopted from marketing is using data analytics to better understand the customer. Now, when a sales rep fires off a pitch to a prospect, the rep immediately receives data about their behavior – What was the open rate for a particular subject line? How many people moved to the next step after reading this email?

As prospects continue through the sales process, or as existing clients work with the company, the sales rep is able to gather more information about their behavior to create a true understanding of their needs. By analyzing the data, reps are able to understand what methods worked with their customers and know how to recreate this success in the future.

Customer relationship management in sales

Marketing teams learned early on that a strong relationship with a customer is key to their returning to the company’s products or services.

From this understanding sprang forth tactics like customer relationship management that allowed these kinds of relationships to grow. Marketing teams use the customer data they have to craft valuable offerings and targeted campaigns for their customers.

For sales, understanding the motivations and drives behind a potential lead’s actions through data analytics allows the sales rep to send similar targeted campaigns.

No more emails beginning with “To Whom It May Concern,” – now, sales reps are able to provide their prospects with enriching and useful information specific to any questions that they may have regarding the product or service.

Sales and marketing alignment

Although they still provide different functions for the company, marketing and sales stand to learn a great deal from each other as technology and consumer preferences continue to change.

With sales teams being called upon more often to close deals with recurring clients, it is more important than ever that they embrace customer relationship management and data analytics in order to provide the best customer experience possible.

The siloed business model is becoming increasingly ineffective, and this trend points to an emerging trend of overall sales and marketing alignment. Companies are finding that when a technique successfully works for one department or team, the actions can and should be adapted across the organization in order to reap similar rewards.

While sales and marketing are the first aspects of business to embrace this, we can expect to see this more as business models continue to innovate and change.

– by Chris Rothstein