All too often B2B marketers employ ABM as a tactic when, in fact, it is a strategy. Over the decades of doing ABM – even before it was called that – I’ve learned several lessons on how to ensure your ABM program will drive sales. Here are 3 of those key lessons.
Key 1: The A in ABM is for Accounts
Choosing the right accounts requires 2 things. One, working with Sales Leadership to determine the right categories, industries, and ultimately Accounts you want to focus on. Second, is having the right GTM strategy and frameworks that support a robust ABM strategy. Meaning, you need a brand USP platform that works across all your audiences. Then, you need a segmentation strategy that has unique messaging, use cases, case studies, etc. that support why a customer should partner with your brand.
At MSFT, we focused on top 10 accounts in 10 industries = 100 accounts. How did we figure our top 10 accounts you may ask. It wasn’t by what they were spending with us. It was the potential they could spend with us. We wanted to take a bite at the biggest apple.
The same rationale was used to evaluate industries. Also, our segmentation was based upon client industries, because other segmentation rationales didn’t let us tell a holistic value proposition across hundreds of SKUs (eg., from windows servers, to ads in XBox, etc.). We needed to address Why Microsoft at scale.
Key 2: The M is for Marketing, not Advertising
The ABM tech companies think that retargeting an ad to a chosen account is ABM – it’s not. As marketers, we must think about ABM holistically in terms of tactics. So too must your ABM strategy. When planning ABM, B2B marketers must include: Events, Trade Shows, PR, IR, demand gen, sales enablement, etc. to impact the selected accounts. Advertising is just one arrow in the quiver.
This means that ABM is a horizontal GTM strategy (if your marketing disciplines are the verticals). Think of it as a matrix. This means ABM is a corporate marketing function not a line of business function and it’s output is an integrated marketing strategy that delivers storylines and messaging for each account identified in an orchestrated way that lead to business results.
Key 3: Measure ABM with Incremental Lift
There is truly only one way to measure ABM: Incremental lift in revenue and NPS for those accounts covered versus alike pool of accounts not covered. It’s that simple. Don’t overthink it.
And if ABM is working for new accounts, then the sales team is closing deals for those accounts better, smarter, and faster. And if ABM is working for existing customer accounts then the account service team is seeing a lift in NPS. It’s not the number of times an account’s executives got bombarded with an online ad on Forbes.com from your B2B brand. It’s revenue and NPS. All other metrics don’t matter.