If you’ve reached something of a cruising altitude with your ABM strategy, it’s certainly cause for feeling gratified. Implementing ABM effectively and growing it is no small accomplishment. After all that hard work, it’s time perhaps to ease up on the throttle, but it’s also time to stay vigilant about your ABM effort. It’s a sophisticated system with countless moving parts, and things can go wrong.
The best way to guard against this happening is to recognize some warning signs. The sooner you identify them, the sooner you can evaluate whether they in fact represent a brewing issue. You’ll then be able to take any necessary steps early on, when it’s easiest to make course adjustments. Here are the eight most common signs, and what to do about them:
1. Sales leadership stops coming to your meetings
Given the investment your company has made in its ABM strategy, it should be a high priority for leadership from Sales to be engaged in regularly scheduled conversations to assess performance. If your Sales leaders were initially involved but have taken a step back, ask yourself why. Better yet, ask them why. Are they less invested? Less interested? Have they detected an issue that’s not been addressed?
The key is to get them participating again. Maybe that will involve one-on-one conversations, changes to when or where the meetings are held, or something else, but it’s crucial that you get to the bottom of the issue, even if it just ends up being meeting fatigue. People notice when leadership shows up or does not show, so open that communication channel.
2. Sales keeps changing the target account list
Oh, Sales. We love you. We really do. But it’s hard to hit a moving target. You can’t keep changing your lineup on us. Set your target account list for a quarter and give us a chance us flex our ABM muscles without rotating players in and out. Down the road, we can see the need to occasionally add someone new here and there, or even get together and reconfigure the entire list after a few sales cycles—but just for one cycle, let’s stay consistent with our agreed- upon target account list and let Marketing work its magic.
3. Sales isn’t supporting or participating in your programs
When was the last time you asked Sales if a marketing campaign helped them? Or have you asked Sales to name a campaign you ran last quarter? As marketers, we think we work hard to produce effective messaging around creative offers, but none of that matters without the buy-in of the sales team. Therefore if you see this lack of support, it’s time to talk to some of your buddies in Sales to see what’s up, what’s changed, and what can be done about it.
4. Someone is still focused on quantity-based metrics
Quantity-based metrics are practically in our DNA. In the ABM world, it’s instead about the metrics that matter. You don’t hear runners talking about how many steps they ran. Instead, they talk about sport-specific measurements like miles per hour, heart rate, whether they had a PB (personal best) finish, or won the race. These are metrics that move the needle to improve performance. ABM is the same way: it’s quality over quantity. It’s about hitting the equivalent of that best 10K pace, and it requires agreement from both Sales and Marketing to succeed. Leave those measurements of “connects” and “hand raises” at the starting line, and run with “pipeline,” “account engagement,” and “revenue.”
5. You don’t have a healthy (or increasing) number of target accounts on your website
As we know, more than half of the buying process happens on your website. Although you may have an amazing site, if your marketing programs aren’t driving your target accounts there, then something is seriously not working according to plan. Check your messaging, your outreach, and your targeting strategy and then make adjustments. Use the ecosystem of your channels, list segmentation, and messaging to attract those targeted accounts to your website.
6. A large percentage of leads are coming from outside your target account list
Repeat (in your head) after us: “Everyone in Marketing needs to focus on the target account list. I will focus on the target account list. I will then segment the target account list by size, by contacts, by steps in the buying process, and by any other ways I can think of, in order to dial in my marketing efforts. I am one with my target account list.” Successful ABM requires a laser-like focus on knowing—and marketing to—your targets.
7. The percent of revenue coming from your target account list is dropping quarterly
Although you can always expect some ebbs and flows, most B2B companies typically see 70 to 80 percent of revenue coming from their target account list. If you see it dropping significantly below that, step back and reassess. There may be an issue with your list, or perhaps your sales team has disengaged—you have the warning sign, and now it’s time to figure out the root cause. If your numbers drop for one quarter, keep an eye on things, yellow-alert style. If they drop for multiple quarters, that’s looking more like red-alert: take action! You won’t know what’s going on unless you analyze and ask. Your first stop should be over in Sales to begin to figure out what’s going on.
8. You can’t prove the ROI on your ABM-specific technology
Did you buy specific ABM technology in advance of a full ABM strategy? You did? Well now you can see why it made your job harder down the road, if some of your ROI measurements are weird because you didn’t have the proper baseline, or did not measure conversions with and without the technology. The worst case is you thought that purchase would do ABM for you.
Moving forward, make sure that you fully build out your ABM strategy before you add more technology. Then follow the steps we’ve outlined about getting proper baselines and segments, so you’re in a position to compare apples to apples. Run for a sales cycle or two and see what your data looks like then. Then, see what technology you should trim, keep, or add.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Account-Based Marketing by Chris Golec, Peter Isaacson, and Jessica Fewless. Copyright (c) 2019 by Chris Golec, Peter Isaacson, and Jessica Fewless. All rights reserved. This book is available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
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