If Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein were B2B marketers today, what do you think they’d spend most of their energy and effort on? Let’s take a look at a few quotes to get a hint:
“Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.”
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
These two are among the countless quotes that stress the importance of focusing on the right things to set yourself up for success. It’s often counterintuitive and very hard to maintain the discipline and spend more time sharpening the axe than cutting down the tree, or asking the right question than finding the answer.
If Lincoln and Einstein were B2B marketers today, I’d argue they would focus heavily on finding the right accounts to target in the first place.
With Demand Generation, it is not uncommon to be heavily focused on the WHAT – many teams start with offers or content assets as a starting place. Account Based Marketing is different, you must start with the WHO – the starting place is defining your target accounts. This is the most important decision you will make with ABM. The idea is simple – you need to focus 100% of your efforts on the right targets.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The target account selection process is often more effective if teams use data – not just opinions! There are 4 types of data that you need to select target accounts:
- Firmographics: What company characteristics best predict a successful sales process?
- Technographics: What technologies do they currently use or are they looking to invest in?
- Intent Data: Is the company showing signs that they’re in the market for solutions like yours?
- Engagement Data: How engaged is this account with your company right now?
There’s another equally important activity that you can do with your team. It doesn’t involve spending tens of thousand on new technology or an analyst firm.
Enter the Won Sales Analysis.
We’ve all heard of the lost sales analysis where you look at reasons you lost a deal. It’s time to explore the Won Sales Analysis and reverse engineer your best existing customers to find more of them.
I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the book, SHiFT by Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto. There are five stages of a Won Sales Analysis: identify, find, close, improve, and classified.
Before we dive into how to do this, it’s important to note that you need the right people involved. Target account selection isn’t just a job for marketing – you must get buy-in and sign-off from your Sales and Customer Success counterparts. One person or department alone will not be able to answer these questions. It takes the collective wisdom of your entire customer-facing team to effectively conduct the Won Sales Analysis.
Go through specific stages of the customer journey and uncover to uncover key pieces of information.
1) Identify – Establish the events, triggers, and pain points that led to the purchasing decision. The chances are people at your target account already had a pain and were aware of some available option. You want to look for an exact point in time that motivated them to act. When you can hone in on this brief window of opportunity, you can start to uncover valuable information and identifying the moment your target customer actively sought a solution. What was the compelling event?
Learn how to recognize this by asking questions like:
- What created the sense of urgency that compelled you to proactively keep a solution for this challenge
- Why is your current solution no longer viable or meeting expectations?
- What are your current expectations?
2) Find – When and how did they find you?
Getting to highly motivated decision-makers before your competition is key. Ask about the sequence of events that happened before the trigger event that pushed the prospect into dissatisfaction with the status quo. A key operative word here is sequence. Unlike simple consumer purchases, this often is not a single event but rather many events over time.
Ask questions like:
- What purchases made this problem become more of a priority?
- What changes in the market has impacted the propensity to buy?
- What internal changes signal a change in priorities?
3) Close – What made them choose you?
Determine the buyers expectations for a solution as well as their expectations for you and your product or service. Find out how your target account justified the purchase to their team.
Ask questions such as:
- What made you inquire about our solution?
- What is the biggest benefit you see from choosing us over our competitors?
- What are the results you’re expecting with our solution?
4) Improve – How can you make it easier to do business with you? Lower the hurdle for our prospects by getting in front of them faster when a trigger event occurs. Let your customers teach you something about your business.
You know A) the condition and B) why someone would buy from you. Now, let’s look at going from A to B quicker.
Make it easier for them to buy, and ask these questions:
- What can we do to make it easier for prospects looking for solutions like ours to buy?
- How can we make it easier for prospects to understand the value and benefit of our solution?
- How can we add more value sooner in the relationship?
5) Classify – What are the top characteristics of accounts highly likely to buy from you?
Identify the different types of accounts you’ve closed so you can predict future deals with more accuracy.
- Customer data, such as the size of the business, title, and background of the decision-maker, type of business, etc.
- Source of the deal
- Size of the sale
- Length of the sales cycle
By completing a Won Sales Analysis, you’ll get more insight into events and triggers that bring you the best customers. You’ll understand what value you bring to customers (thus why they buy), and how you can close more deals.
Remember, the WHO step is the foundation of your ABM program. Don’t skimp on this. Get your team involved and spend some time to complete this before creating and executing your orchestrated ABM plays.