Account-based Marketing or Account-based Experience?
In the latest episode of Let’s talk ABM, Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice, discusses their Account-based Marketing strategy and why she sees the move from ABM to ABX as the logical next step for their program.
In the interview (full recording here), we discussed:
- How to get started with ABM
- The key building blocks of a successful ABM strategy
- How Bazaarvoice measure ABM ROI
- Advice on how to succeed at Account-based Marketing
Account-based Marketing - what’s in a name?
The term Account-based Marketing was coined back in 2003 by Bev Burgess, Senior Vice President & Global ABM Practice Leader at ITSMA.
When I spoke to Bev last year, she shared how the term came about and her feeling that perhaps the ‘M’ of ABM (for Marketing) was not the best choice looking back now and seeing how Account-based Marketing has evolved over almost twenty years.
Why? Account-based Marketing has become a strategic pivot for many organizations.
What does this mean in practice? Quite simply, ABM is much more important than Sales and Marketing.
It is an organization-wide strategy that, for many, now sees Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and the C-suite work together and focus on winning, growing and retaining their most important accounts.
Let’s unpack Bazaarvoice’s ABM to ABX experience.
6 ABM to ABX Success Tips from Bazaarvoice
1. ‘Crawl, walk, run’
If you’re new to ABM, the worst thing you can do is leap in without any understanding of what you’re getting into.
You need to have a plan - and a relatively long-term plan at that.
If you don’t have those objectives and goals set up at the start, you’ll have no benchmark of your performance.
So (and especially if your team is new to the world of Account-based), you may want to consider setting up a pilot program, to test out the new approach on a small number of accounts to assess how to work moving forwards.
“I think definitely starting with that ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach is key. Work your way up to the larger fish as your program continues to mature” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
Doing this will also give your team time to adjust to a new approach, give you time to assess the level of buy-in you already have within your organization - and see how much more you’re going to need to drive best results.
2. Leverage insight from other teams
Despite the name, Account-based Marketing isn’t just about Marketing.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
To be successful, ABM requires input and insight from every corner of the organization. This means Sales, the C-suite, the Accounts team - everyone.
Because Marketing doesn’t know everything.
And neither does any other singular department of a business.
Think of it this way; each department has a different perspective of the account, and access to different insight. Only by combining your perspectives can you gain a full 360° view of the account.
“Leverage that Account team that you have and their experiences and their relationship with the account to pull those insights out. Because those insights are going to help guide your content strategy” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
Particularly with One-to-one ABM programs, personalization is key.
And that’s where your insight from other teams comes in. You’re going to use that knowledge of the account to create content that really resonates with them.
And that’s the key to standing out in a crowded market. It just takes that extra touch of personalization, that extra effort to understand the account, to really start seeing results.
3. Create a centralized source of truth
Getting that alignment between your teams isn’t always an easy task - but it sure is worth the effort.
With Sales and Marketing alignment, you could be looking at a 50% reduction in sales time wasted on unproductive prospecting. Not to mention 67% better at closing deals.
And the key to aligned teams is a centralized source of truth.
This means every department having access to the same insights and having a uniform process that everybody adheres to.
After all, you’re unlikely to get the results you want when Marketing and Sales are not aligned around the same accounts and same objectives.
Consider creating an ABM playbook or workflows for your team so you know that everybody has access to the same resources and training.
ABM impacts the wider business like no other marketing strategy. And because of that, your team needs to fully understand the process and how ABM works - otherwise you can never hope to get buy-in.
Every department - from the Sales team to the CS team - needs to have a seat at the table. Not just because you need their buy-in, but also because every department will have something to offer.
So give those departments a voice. Allow them to communicate their knowledge and their insights, and you’ll gain a truly three-dimensional perspective of your accounts.
4. Invest in reporting and measurement
ABM can have a reputation for complexity when it comes to measurement and reporting.
And that’s because the standard metrics simply aren’t sophisticated enough to give you an accurate view of your performance.
Of course, that’s not to say these metrics aren’t a good indicator. The trusty go-to of ROI will always provide you with an overview of your ABM success.
But ABM is very much an influence-based model. The work doesn’t stop once you’ve closed the deal. You then have to work on retaining and growing that account.
And that makes measurement tricky.
“I think being able to show that apples to apples comparison and showing that control group and how our campaigns can affect the full sales cycle has been extremely important in showing success there” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
Generally this will mean more metrics. Because you need to measure all the ways in which ABM is impacting your business - not just the financial gains, but also more qualitative factors like reputation and relationships.
And it’s all in the frequency. You can’t check in on your performance occasionally - ABM requires constant monitoring so you can adjust to fit any gaps along the way.
But this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on a supporting tech stack to help with reporting. You just need to work smarter, not harder.
“You don't have to have a large budget, like I said, to do Account-based Marketing. I think if you're smart and you pull the right levers within your tech stack, you leverage the right people on your Marketing team and through Sales, you can accomplish a lot without a large budget” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
Set up various benchmarks to measure against - and make sure you have a good range.
ABM can’t always be measured in numbers. Sometimes it takes more qualitative insight to really determine the success of your program.
5. Celebrate small victories
ABM is not a short-term strategy.
It’s a lifestyle. And because of that, it may take a while to see the more significant results.
So it’s all about celebrating those small victories to keep that enthusiasm and momentum going.
Started a new conversation with a potential lead? Great - celebrate it!
Landed a new prospect? Amazing - share it with your team!
“ABM is a long term approach to activating these target accounts. And sometimes it takes a while to actually see the fruits of your labor at the end. And so being able to show those smaller milestones I think is really important” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
It’s all about creating an ethos of teamwork and encouragement that will ultimately help you to keep that buy-in and keep that momentum going.
6. Moving from ABM to ABX
ABM has had its time in the sun. Now it’s time to make way for ABX.
“It's more than just Marketing. And I think if you're really trying to foster and create that one team mentality, looking at it through that lens of how Sales and CS is also contributing to that strategy, I think is key” - Jennifer Leaver, Global ABM Strategist at Bazaarvoice
Building an Account-based strategy goes beyond any single department. It needs the insight, buy-in and expertise of every department to be the most effective.
You need the creativity and strategy of Marketing, the logic and communication skills of Sales, the empathy and understanding of Customer Services, and countless other skills and characteristics to get the most out of ABM.
It’s an Account-based Experience - not just a Marketing strategy.
You can learn more about all things account-based, including ABX, in our Let’s talk ABM webinar series, where we hear the latest insights from leading ABM experts.