An ABM Formula for Long-Term B2B Growth
Growth-oriented B2B organizations need to drive revenue in repeatable, predictable ways. How can they implement account-based infrastructure that scales? In research for our Clear and Complete Guide to ABM Analytics, I chatted about practical starter tips with Eric Wittlake, senior analyst at TOPO, an analyst first focused on helping Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development adopt the patterns and plays that drive revenue growth.
Eric has 15+ years of experience developing and executing B2B demand generation, marketing and advertising programs, which was why I was so excited to chat with him. Our conversations are always enlightening, and he’s a pleasure to spend time with.
Here are some of the key takeaways from my conversation with Eric based on his industry knowledge and his firm’s approach to business growth.
The target account list defines your target market. The target account list used to be an ad-hoc tactical list. Now it represents a strategic, data-driven set of accounts the entire organization will focus on. It effectively represents your target market.
Use an existing asset. Nearly all B2B organizations currently have content behind a form — an eBook of best practices, for example, or a benchmark based on data. Re-purpose the asset for ABM campaigns with industry-specific introductions, or send printed copies to target accounts with hand-written notes. ADRs can flag a particular page, stat, customer story, or example.
Use content that’s already delivered an initial proof of value. Just zero in on what’s most likely to get interest.
Customize existing tactics and campaigns. “Account-based marketing uses tactics you already use today.” Eric recommends targeting strategic activities that already exist, such as outbound emails, direct mail, ads and outbound SDR activity against a specific set of accounts.
Start with a “good enough” list. For an initial account-based pilot, create a list of accounts everyone believes are a better fit and higher value than the average customer. This list, when agreed to by both marketing and sales, is the foundation for the initial account-based effort while Ideal Customer Profile and full account list are developed.
Use the ICP as a formula for long-term growth. The ICP, or ideal customer profile, creates an aligned, scalable approach to building and maintaining the target account list over time. Organizations need to be comfortable investing outsized resources against certain accounts and not others. Without the focus this allows, an account-based strategy will not deliver its full potential.
Investments in tools and technology need to support a thoughtful go-to-market strategy. As more companies look to invest in technology to execute their ABM strategies, most are still in the early stages. Technology doesn’t make a strategy, only thoughtful planning and market considerations do. Organizations should establish a solid strategic foundation, then build the tech stack in support of that broader strategy.
Consider a different context for the initial touch point. Often we joke about sales selling through connections at their kid’s school or little league, but there’s some truth to it – rapport can be established before a business context is ever introduced. Finding new, novel ways to change the context of the initial outreach can lower the instinctive skepticism by prospective customers.
Account engagement is the leading indicator of account-based success. Successful programs engage accounts via well-designed experiences throughout the customer lifecycle. For example, marketing may increase engagement through programs specifically designed to improve late-stage funnel metrics (e.g. pipeline velocity).
Account-based strategies maximize the customer lifetime value (LTV). At the end of the day, this is the most important metric, and we’re not talking about the most important ABM metric – we’re talking about the most important business metric for the entire organization. is the ultimate indicator of how valuable an account is today, as well as how valuable that account might become over time (potential LTV). Account-based strategies not only help you land net-new, but it also helps you expand existing accounts, resulting in significantly higher customer LTV.