How to Start ABM and Create a Custom Scoring for Account Selection

Auth0 is an authentication-as-a-service startup with the mission of delivering zero-friction authentication, authorization, and modern identity for custom applications. Traditionally the company has focused on inbound marketing with great success achieving five figure new trials each month, ranking in the top 3K US websites per Alexa rankings, and growing at 300% YOY. So why did Auth0 invest in Account Based Marketing?

Auth0 wanted to complement their successful inbound programs with a strong ABM program. The company made a few attempts at outbound marketing without a methodology for account selection and were predictably unsuccessful. We took those lessons to heart and decided that ABM was needed. The inbound programs mainly focused on developers, so for the ABM outbound program the company shifted focus to non-developer titles from the enterprise landscape.

Auth0 has an offering that does well for enterprise clients, but relying on an exclusive end-user-up strategy is slower and less effective in outbound for large accounts. Account selection was critical as we did not want to spam companies without a strong need for Auth0. We wanted to ensure our targets would see and gain immediate value from a modern identity solution.

Auth0 Account Selection

Historical data was not as relevant for the new outbound initiatives, instead, we used our core differentiators and value propositions as a guide and created a research plan to find targets best aligned to benefit from the Auth0 feature-set and value drivers. This would not only increase a company’s propensity to buy Auth0, but also their likelihood of gaining immediate value from the solution.

Auth0 created a use case specific scoring model to find their target accounts. In the B2B use case, for example, we looked at all possible B2B prospects with over 2,500 employees. We then narrowed the prospects by geography, targeting HQs in their enterprise sales team territories. This gave us a list of approximately 900 companies. At this point, thorough research was required.

We hired a research temp, who studied the websites of the 900 companies. Auth0 provides a modern identity platform for custom applications so understanding the identity and login portals of the 900 prospects was core to the research. The outcome of this research would allow us to eliminate B2B companies that would not benefit as much from our solution (those without login portals as well as B2B companies that were not developing custom software). Additionally, we would be able to assign “portal scores” to the remaining companies. Portal scores looked at criteria such as companies using traditional username and password authentication as well companies that utilized multiple login portals and naturally prospects that met these criteria scored higher.

The research resulted in 403 prospect companies scored based on their current authentication practices and projected needs. But this wasn’t enough. Auth0 wanted to make sure the companies not only had a need, but also a desire to change and to use a 3rd party service to handle authentication and authorization. Additional research was required.

Auth0 expanded on their research and scoring methods to further rank and prioritize the 403 companies. The following scoring matrix was developed:

auth0 scoring methods

Auth0 Account Ranking

This multi-layer scoring system allowed Auth0 to rank the 403 target companies. Higher priority was given to companies that met the product need/fit while the remaining prospects were weighed lower. Once the ranking was established, Auth0 better understood the likelihood of need and interest of their prospects. This gave us the ability to tier the target accounts into two tiers.

Tier 1, which comprised 88 out of the 403 companies, would likely gain the most value from Auth0 and be most interested in the solution. The ABM programs would be more relevant and better received for these companies. Tier 2 accounts, comprised of the remaining 315 companies, would be nurtured at a lower intensity, allowed them to “raise their hand” if interested in our solution.

Engaging meaningfully with the highest propensity targets is key to successful outbound ABM. We did not want to waste time and money spamming companies who had little to no need or interest in our product.

With the research, ranking, and tier association complete, Auth0 can now focus on the top 20 targets (out of the 88 Tier 1 companies identified,) each quarter with high intensity and highly customized ABM programs. The remaining companies in both Tier 1 and Tier 2 are still nurtured but with less high-touch and high-cost activities.

Moving forward, Auth0 was able to repurpose the research from account selection to easily create detailed PDF dossiers on Tier 1 companies including portal screenshots, industry reports, and security data for the sales team. Additionally, the research was applied to content personalization, including messaging, landing pages, and direct mail campaigns for the Tier 1 accounts. Each quarter, Auth0 adjusts the scoring model and weights to better reflect results and goals from lessons learned and the ABM cycle repeats.

Summary

ABM account selection can be overwhelming for companies starting ABM, especially if they don’t have a large number of historical sales data to use for predictive analysis as was the case for Auth0. If this applies to your organization, start with a specific use case and your differentiators and values. This will allow you to build a data-rich model and help you identify prospective companies to target. It may require significant work upfront, but the research can be repurposed in many ways.

The most important goal of account selection should always be to find the targets with the highest need and interest for your solution. Stay tuned for more posts regarding ABM and lessons learned from Auth0.

Kerry Ok

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