Take a moment to think about your customers. How did they first find out about your company? How did they start doing business with you?
Marketing and Sales teams try to push contacts through the sales funnel, but ultimately, the buyer creates and dictates their own path.
There is no way around the fact that buyers control their own journey. Online shopping and online research are popular roads that buyers travel. Here are some convincing statistics that HubSpot compiled:
- 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.
- 44% of people go directly to Amazon to start their product searches, compared to 34% who use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to search for products.
Marketers work hard to meet their potential customers on that popular road, but, it's a crowded street, and it's difficult (and expensive!) to attract their attention. If you knew the name of your customer, you'd be able to call out to them and provide a more personalized experience. “Hey, customer! Over here!”
With account-based marketing (ABM), that's exactly what you can do.
Guide Buyers Through the Funnel With ABM
How is this possible? A whole lot of data collecting, and flipping the sales funnel. Compared to the average broad-reaching marketing campaigns that touch the largest possible number of prospects, an ABM strategy focuses on specific accounts and their specific decision-makers.
Example: Think of ABM in terms of finding a needle in a haystack. First, Marketing has to identify the haystack (in this case, the market) to target marketing efforts. Then, we need to find the needles (customers) we want to reach. In some cases, out of the whole haystack, we only want to target ten specific needles. Reaching out to this small-niched customer base can benefit you because your money is being used in a much more effective way than mass marketing.
Account-based marketing flips the traditional sales funnel that Marketing and Sales teams are used to. Instead of starting with attracting leads using content and then qualifying those leads as they move through the funnel, ABM focuses on first identifying attractive prospects and then specifically targeting those accounts. This approach produces more qualified leads, allows for extremely personalized marketing, and increased close ratios.
To successfully implement ABM, it is important to understand that it’s all about the data. The foundation is based on up-to-date, detailed sales intelligence. ABM can only be successful with a robust and accurate sales intelligence solution that delivers the right insights Sales and Marketing need.
What are important pieces of information to know about your individual accounts?
- Names of decision-makers
- Contact information
- Company size
- Budget information
- Go-to-market strategy
- Current pain points
The more information you can gather and the more meticulous your data set is, the better off you will be. How do you gain this information? You can interview your current customers and potential ones about their needs and pain points. But this takes time. Are there other options? Yes. Sales intelligence providers, like RainKing, provide the exact data, insights, and tools necessary to help you implement and excel with ABM.
Now that you have all of this information about your prospects, what do you do with it? Beyond simply knowing how to work each account, having access to the right data helps ensure those most likely to buy are targeted first—the underpinning of the entire approach. This has been made easier by applications that allow you to filter and cull the names and numbers to reveal actual people that will likely do business with you. You learn their names, pains, and needs, so you can catch them on that popular road called the buyer’s journey.
Essentially, ABM allows you to start with leads in hand—that you specifically know—and gives you the ability to effectively target, engage, and close them. Content creation and email marketing doesn't stop—it just gets more personal, and therefore better.
How ABM Leads to Client Success
So, your Sales team closed a deal and your customer’s signature is on the dotted line. The use of your ABM approach to strategically target and nurture this contact to help them through the sales funnel worked. Now what? Does the personalization of content and engagement end when the paperwork is signed? No.
It is important that you continue to take a persona-based ABM approach with your customers if you want long-term client retention. But, at this stage, who provides this experience? Sales and Marketing usually focus on prospects, but do they have time to work with customers as well? For the most part, sales should focus on closing new deals and keeping their pipelines full. But if your internal structure is such that sales reps become the customer’s account manager after onboarding/training, they should definitely continue to provide a personalized experience in addition to the support that client success will provide. In addition, Marketing can help with creating tailored content, but their bandwidth to dive deeper into the needs of each individual client is usually unavailable. This is where a Client Success team comes into play.
A Client Success team should take the reigns from Sales after they close a deal. Client Success personnel are the main point of contact as your customers start—and continue—using your product or service. This team’s focus is on customer service and continually providing tailored content that can answer questions and solve clients' problems. Some of this content can include tips and tricks emails, training sessions, and more. This content should be created based on your customer personas so it is tailored to their specific needs and goals.
Where does Marketing come in? Your Client Success team should work hand-in-hand with Marketing to ensure your customers remain constantly engaged. Nurturing isn’t a term that is used solely for prospects, but for customers as well. By using a strategic ABM approach to nurture your clients, you will be able to better provide them the guidance and supporting documentation they need to efficiently use your product or service to achieve success. Take what you know about your client's goals, needs, and challenges to create email marketing campaigns, knowledge base articles, how-to videos, blog posts and more, specific to each customer's responsibilities to help them with their day-to-day and long-term efforts.
A successful ABM strategy is based on tailored content and personalized engagement throughout the lead AND customer lifecycles. Your Sales and Marketing teams should lead the ABM strategy for prospects, and your Client Success team should work with Marketing to provide the same level of personalization to customers. Interested in learning more about how to develop a successful Client Success team within your own organization? We sat down with our own Client Success Director, Chelsea Madden, who shared some of of her tips and tricks with us, along with how ABM plays a part in her team’s every day success. Learn more in this blog.