If ever there was a case of “everything old is new again” it would be Account-Based Marketing (ABM). A popular selling style in the 1980s and early 1990s, ABM worked because it tapped into the philosophy that a company’s best customers were its current customers. Sales increased simply by further penetration into existing accounts.
Today, brands are returning to ABM, this time boosted by digital marketing capabilities that take marketing and sales activities to another level. But there is one critical component of ABM that will never change in spite of capabilities. And that is buyer insight.
Buyer personas just aren’t quite enough
Most B2B marketers today rely on customer personas and buyer journeys to create relevant campaigns. The problem there, though, is that personas are built the same way they were when legacy B2B enterprises were dominant. They’re still created today as if the legacy sales model were still in place. Businesses now simply can’t rely on what used to work in the past, especially in the area of understanding buyers.
Truth be told, there is more to buyer insights than analytics, sales intelligence and buyer personas. No matter what facts and statistics may emerge, true insight into buyer thoughts and incentives is missing.
And honestly, not every tech company is motivated to invest into buyer insight—yet. They still continue to look at customers from a helicopter view which fails to capture the nuances and patterns of buyer behaviour. They simply don’t know buyer needs and processes, let alone any insight or reflection of the buyer.
Companies should be able to glean three things about their potential buyers:
What buyers are trying to accomplish
The importance of problem resolution and objectives achievement
How they make buying decisions
Digital has shifted the buyer insight model.
There’s no doubt that the power and control of our digital world is controlled firmly by buyers. This may be less true in B2B situations, but the dilemma remains. Brands must gravitate away from product-centric approaches and move toward a buyer insight-based model in order to ratchet up sales and loyalty. This doesn’t mean digital goes away. Not at all. What has to happen is that B2B companies need to move past a segmentation model of nameless, faceless targets. In order to win big, enterprises need to get the names and faces right and then create viable profiles to understand buying motivators and trends. Yep, buyer insight.
Why buyer insight fuels ABM.
One of the main benefits of an ABM initiative is that sales and marketing work together to communicate with targets. The direct communications may come from the sales organisation but marketing plays a vital role. They should no longer produce content just to produce content; it should be created to specifically target in a 1:1 model. And customer communications delivery will alter too. A combination of in-person and digital is a great start.
Brands that dig deeper for buyer insight to support ABM will start to realise some surprising benefits:
Customer pain points matter. Really listen to what customers are saying. And then respond in ways that will resonate with the correct set of buyers, with more efficiency and relevance.
Marketing and sales can team up to focus on decision makers and key influencers in customer organisations. Reach the ones with the budget for better marketing and sales results.
Create better, targeted messaging to build the sales pipeline. Marketing and demand gen efforts are budgeted appropriately based on relevant customer issues.
Design custom packages and pricing that will meet customer needs. Custom and personalised solutions can be irresistible to most enterprise buyers.
Your company will become more customer-centric with people in all areas of the enterprise working with a customer-first mindset. Deliver what customers really want when pricing, messaging, positioning, sales and marketing have a singular focus.
Customer loyalty and retention soar when solutions can be delivered to really align with customer needs. Being proactive with solutions based on buyer insight will position you favourably for the long term.
The role of marketers today is not always an easy one. But there is help if they are willing to take a glance back in time to understand the fundamentals of ABM and then put their relative spin on it. The simplest way to put it is to understand as best you can about your customers and what moves them to buy. Creating the perfect ABM strategy based on buyer insight is the foundation. Experience shows that It might be simple, not always easy. But always worth it.
How to drive profit from Account-Based Marketing
There’s a time for spray and pray marketing: For casting your net wide when sharing news in the expectation that a small percentage of recipients will have that ‘aha’ moment. But let’s face it, when the emphasis is on delivering immediate results (and timely opportunities), then the more targeted your activities the better.
Which is, of course, the central promise behind Account-Based Marketing (ABM). With it comes the ability to deliver more meaningful and relevant messages that are tailored to a precise audience. But then you already knew that. What you possibly don’t know so well are the key factors behind a successful ABM programme or the main pitfalls to avoid.
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