According to Terminus, account-based marketing ‘takes much more time, effort, and collaboration to be successful in comparison to generic marketing plans. However, in 2020 ‘over 63% of teams indicated that their account-based programme either became more important or absolutely critical to their business goals.’ ABM is, therefore, harder to implement but when done correctly will lead to better results. This is why it is worth investing time into understanding the common ABM pitfalls, and how you can best avoid them.
pitfall no. 1 - strategy
ABM isn’t another quick fix marketing tactic. Failure to plan properly and create a clearly defined end-to-end strategy from the start will lead to unsuccessful results. ABM is a strategic business-led initiative, which requires time spent creating a long term plan involving multiple internal stakeholders. Ensure that you’ve got all your ducks in a row first, and confirm everyone is on board with the plan that will be put in place to create a successful programme.
pitfall no.2 - trust
Introducing ABM into your business requires involvement from all the relevant stakeholders; Sales, Marketing, Senior Leadership, and Customer Success teams. Lack of communication and unrealistic expectations will result in poor alignment. To combat this, it is important to get everyone’s input from the start and make it clear that ABM is not a quick win, but a business-led initiative. Define what is expected of each team from the get-go, to help align the common objectives and unify everyone’s long-term goals.
pitfall no.3 - process
Selecting the wrong accounts and/or selecting too many or too few accounts will hinder your chances of a successful ABM programme. Spoiler alert: your target accounts shouldn’t be a dream list of logos. And, while we’re on the topic, account selection shouldn’t be Sales giving Marketing a list of cold contacts because they don’t want them touching any other accounts (refer back to Pitfall No. 2 – Trust). ABM needs to be a joint effort using tried and tested tools and processes to select the right fit accounts for your programme. It requires looking at your ideal customer profile, and your total addressable market, to understand which accounts are the best to enrol into the programme. Marketing and Sales should then work together to target these accounts in a joint effort.
pitfall no.4 - research
Personalisation is one of the key tools for a successful ABM programme, it is what creates the most engagement with your target accounts. Lack of quality customer insight results in messaging that is built from generic insight, and isn’t personalised, and therefore doesn’t resonate with your target audience. After selecting your target accounts, you need to uncover enough insight to deliver personalised content. This might seem like a lot of work, but you can segment the accounts into different verticals, territories, or by certain trigger events. Once you have your segments, focus on getting the insights you need to help create content that is relevant to each group of accounts.
pitfall no.5 - content
Once you have the research in place, don’t fall back onto generic propositions and content. A common mistake can be stating facts that you believe sound important, but have no correlation to your message. Keep your content on track by leveraging the account insights that speak directly to the needs of the target audience. Focus your messaging around this insight, and how your business can help solve the issue.
pitfall no.6 - inertia
Inertia is the result of failing to mitigate the other five pitfalls, and not putting in place the correct KPIs to measure your ABM programme. For example, if you measure ABM by lead generation, it may leave your team demotivated and lose trust in the programme. Terminus State of ABM 2020 defines the top three KPI metrics used to measure ABM success as; revenue generation, pipeline generation, and meetings/demos scheduled. For companies running fully integrated ABM programmes in their business, lead generation is the second to last KPI metric used to measure success and only 9% still use it as a KPI. Therefore, your ABM efforts may actually be successful, but you are measuring them in the wrong way.
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In summary, ABM is an end-to-end process that cannot be rushed. It requires planning and team alignment, but when performed correctly, can result in new business opportunities, pipeline acceleration, and customer retention, as well as many other benefits. If you would like more information on how to start ABM the right way, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.