Getting Started with Account Based Marketing: How to Select Accounts

More and more businesses are tapping into the revenue-generating benefits of Account Based Marketing (ABM). It’s the savvy approach to zeroing in on the potential customers with the best opportunity for sales and long term engagement.

So, if the idea behind ABM is to target the best accounts, then how do you decide which of those accounts to include in your marketing efforts. We have some proven tactics on that so let’s get started. Let’s build your list.


You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.

Most B2B companies have a wish list of businesses they want to add to their client roster. Everybody likes some killer brands in the stable. But—and this may be hard to walk away from—those brands may not ever be viable customers for your products and solutions. And they may not be close to making any buying decisions. Walking away for now is probably the smartest thing. You can always come back later if circumstances change.


Define your objectives and you’re halfway there.

Each business will have different criteria for selecting its ABM accounts. It really hinges on what the company’s goals are. Some may want to focus on account tiers with high value and others go the key verticals route. Some even blend their ABM initiative into established demand generation work. But before those decisions are made, it’s smart to define your perfect account profile based on overall objectives from acquisition to buyer retention.


Targeting is a group decision

Account based marketing only works if sales and marketing work together. Both groups will have significant roles and bring different perspectives to the table, especially during discussions of the merit of individual businesses to target. Each company will have different selection criteria but the following are some standard qualifiers when putting together an ABM list:

  • High yield: Identify top revenue generators and their characteristics. They are likely to result in larger than average deals and generate substantial long term revenue.

  • Profitability: Look for accounts that match your best buyer profile and select those existing buyers with cross-sell/upsell potential. You’ll realise the highest revenue and greatest lifetime value.

  • Product fit: Companies with needs that line up with your products are most likely to buy from you.

  • Quick wins: Accounts with a short purchase decision process due to size and structure generate quick revenue.

  • Territory: It’s easy to load the sales pipeline if you look for accounts in specific areas of the country as they align with sales support.

  • Competitors: Feeling bold? Pursue companies using competing products and if your competitors are doing well with certain types of companies, consider targeting that profile too.

  • Leveraged data: Tap into sales and marketing data to identify trends, history, CRM data, territories—all of which will help identify appropriate accounts to target.

Identifying target accounts is critical for account based marketing. The name says it all. And this process shouldn’t be taken lightly because it is where you will invest resources in the financial and people areas. In former times, choosing targeted accounts probably involved a smoke filled room of salespeople using only their gut feelings, opinions from others and maybe some sales data from their CRM solution.


Now sales and marketing employees can tap into Artificial Intelligence based profiles to dramatically speed the target selection process. The relevant data will also provide insights faster than any human processing so communicating with targeted accounts quicker also cuts down the time to more revenue.


Predictive marketing analytics tools can then utilise the data to optimise AI solutions for scans of account lists highlighting commonalities and, eventually, a suggested targeted account list.


Make prioritisation a priority

Identifying your account list doesn’t mean that you blanket them all the next day with communications. You’ll want to prioritise the list to determine which accounts to pursue first. Choose no more than five lists at first while you’re still getting acclimated to ABM. You don’t want to overwhelm your teams and it will also be easier to track successes and maximise ROI.


It will feel natural for you to go after accounts that are most relevant to you in terms of understanding the buyer’s journey and that you have already developed content for support. Intent data can also shed some light on new activity in dormant accounts which may raise their priority. Automated sales alerts can serve as alarm bells for quick contact with target accounts too.


ABM is not a new concept but the tools available today help marketing and sales teams make informed decisions that generate more revenue and create long-term customer relationships for the business.


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