How to Operationalize Account-Based Marketing

If prospects don’t fit your Ideal Customer Profile, they shouldn’t become leads.

You already know this.

But that doesn’t stop a lot of sales and marketing professionals from pursuing any and all hand-raisers, regardless how poorly suited they are.

If you’re having trouble converting leads – or getting leads at all – here’s your simple, three-step process to keep your eye on the ball.

From Peter K Herbert, VP of Marketing at Terminus, an Atlanta-based company helping sales and marketing teams execute ABM campaigns, comes this guest post, a simple, three-part model to operationalize ABM: Fit + Intent + Engagement.

Fit, intent, and engagement

Fit, intent, and engagement provide the core data you need to be successful with your account-based marketing program.

In our previous guest blog on “Adventures in Account-Based Marketing” (original post from Terminus), I outlined the importance of taking a data-driven approach in your account-based marketing program and introduced a model I refer to as Fit + Intent + Engagement.

In short, the first rule of account-based marketing is: know your target accounts.

The second rule is: know which of your target accounts are actively researching or buying so you can prioritize those accounts.

The third rule is: you must create engagement with the right people at these accounts before anything good like pipeline and revenue happens.

In other words, use the Fit + Intent + Engagement model to start operationalizing ABM. Below, I will describe some of the use cases for the model.

ABM Success Is the Path to Efficient Growth

The account-based way of approaching the market is fundamentally different than the lead-based approach. With the lead-based approach, you spend time, energy, and money metaphorically putting up billboards all over the highways of your market and then seeing who fills out a form on your website.

With an account-based approach, you already know who is likely to buy and who has the highest value, so you can select your tactics, proactively engage, and efficiently progress your target accounts and target buyers through their buying journeys.

With ABM, the first goal of marketing is to engage high-quality target accounts, not increase the overall quantity of individuals who fill in forms on your website or stop by your booth at an event.

This process, whether you call it ABM or just plain great B2B marketing, leads to efficient growth. The days of squandering marketing budget are gone. High-performing marketing teams focus on efficiently creating an impact on predictable pipeline and revenue.

Watch: The Inside Look – A True Story of Executing Account-Based Everything

The Key Isn’t Just Getting Data – it’s Operationalizing Data

Once you get started with ABM and implement the tools you need to get data-driven, you must operationalize the data. I talk to marketers at great companies every day, and the greatest barrier they face as they try to orchestrate engagement at target accounts is truly operationalizing account-based marketing.

Let’s go through the Top 3 scenarios where you can use the Fit + Intent + Engagement model to operationalize and succeed with ABM.

1. Identify Your Qualified Market

Before you select your target accounts, you need to identify the pool of accounts that marketing, sales, and sales development would potentially work on because they are a “fit” for your business. You need to know whether you have 20,000 accounts that are really a good fit to your ideal customer profile (ICP), or only 1,000.

 

This requires data tools to build accounts in your CRM, build out contacts for your target buyer personas at each account, and, ideally, use AI-assisted or “predictive” scoring that allows you to score the fit of accounts so you can prioritize. (Learn about DiscoverOrg’s predictive scoring model – and predictive buying Triggers.)

I’ve seen companies get too focused on their inbound-powered databases. When you rely solely on inbound, your database likely represents only a fraction of your potential market. You think you are making noise with your marketing, but no one can hear you. Build your database of high-fit accounts and engage!

Most companies can benefit from creating a master pool of accounts in their databases that are fair game if they show the right intent and engagement signals, or if they come in through inbound.

Fit is always the filter. In other words, if the account doesn’t fit in this pool, don’t spend any time, energy, or money on it — period. (Any CFOs and CEOs getting excited yet?)

Grab our new ebook: The Power of Marketing and Sales Intelligence – 7 Ways to Fuel Faster Growth.

2. Select Your Target Accounts

Once you know your target pool of accounts that represent your qualified market, you can use the fit, intent, and engagement data to help you create a tiered set of target accounts. Since you are looking for accounts that are most likely to buy, the combination of these signals should give you direction on which accounts:

Rank your target accounts according to data signals. Then consult sales to finalize your target list.

  1. Fit your ICP and which are the highest fit
  2. Are active in the market for information or a solution
  3. Are currently engaged with your company, primarily on your website

Use your data to rank accounts based on their fit, intent, and engagement to decide whether to target them and which tier they belong in. Remember, if it’s not a fit to begin with, then don’t work it!

Read our 2017 Growth Drivers Report: What Does it Take to be a High-Growth Company?

3. Dynamically Target and Prioritize Accounts

One potential hazard for some businesses is focusing on static target account lists and not using data to dynamically prioritize. Since you have identified your qualified market, or master pool of high-fit accounts, you can dynamically trigger marketing and sales activity based on emerging intent signals or engagement on your website.

Use intent and engagement signals to move your high-fit accounts into a working status.

For example, if a high-fit account has three people suddenly spending time on my product pages and I receive a signal that they are searching for “Account-Based Marketing” on the internet — BOOM, I trigger an SDR to start outreach to our target buyer personas.

I also activate my marketing team to drop that account into marketing tactics such as account-based ads. I didn’t need anyone to fill in a white paper download form on my site to inform me that I should do this. I can remove the gate and the friction to consuming this valuable content if that is the best path.

In fact, a dynamic account-based approach may be the most effective path for many companies to increase their chances of success. And with the ABM tools we have available today, it’s not that hard to operationalize.

Even for companies that have well-known, very large strategic accounts to land and expand for their top tier, there’s still room in an account-based program for actively prioritizing tier 2 or tier 3 accounts to create greater scale.

Grab our new ebook: The Power of Marketing and Sales Intelligence – 7 Ways to Fuel Faster Growth.

Next Steps: Operationalizing Sales and Marketing Teams with Fit + Intent + Engagement

Operationalizing account-based marketing requires moving to a data-driven approach. Implementing data-driven processes and platforms is easier than ever, so you can streamline your marketing, sales development, and sales processes in pursuit of your revenue goals.

It’s all about creating a system that drives efficient growth. Data and tech enable the account-based marketing teams, who are now in the driver’s seat in the race to create predictable pipeline and revenue.

Look for Peter Herbert’s next piece, coming soon, on using Fit + Intent + Engagement model to operationalize:

  • Data-driven, smart account-based marketing campaigns, and
  • Sales and sales development insights for their hot accounts

Want to learn more?

Read Herbert’s first blog, “The Formula for Account-Based Marketing Success”, or download Terminus’s helpful Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing Campaigns.

 

What are the capabilities for marketing and sales intelligence?Grab our free ebook
Peter Herbert

Peter is the VP of Marketing at Terminus, where he leads the marketing team’s demand creation and ABM efforts ..read more