Today’s competitive business landscape means that marketing teams need to cut through the clutter to create meaningful experiences for their customers. With top-tier ABM strategies in place, you’ll be able to do just that!
ABM allows organizations to deliver more personalized experiences to their customers by focusing efforts on high-value accounts throughout the entire lifecycle. If you’re looking for ways to increase retention, acquisition, and customer LTV, then ABM is your new best friend.
Read on to learn actionable tips and strategies for implementing a successful ABM program at your organization, so you can level up your marketing efforts at every stage of the funnel!
Challenges in the Current State of ABM
ABM is a proven tactic for going to market. But If you’re already employing ABM at your organization, then you’re likely familiar with some of the obstacles and challenges that can arise. Let’s take a look at some of the most common pain points.
Identifying the Right Target Accounts
The first step in an effective ABM plan is accurately identifying your target accounts. You need a foolproof strategy in place to make sure your program gets off the ground.
Lack of Resources
From getting approval on new sales tools to pitching budgets for new campaigns, your team may be having a difficult time getting the resources you need for ABM. That means you need to work smarter, not harder.
We’re all hearing it these days—the dreaded call to “do more with less.” Companies navigating this complex business environment are looking to tighten up their strategy and campaigns.
Tracking and Showing Results
When you start seeing results, that’s when you’ll be able to get buy-in from the C-suite level and finance teams. That means just starting an ABM program is not enough—you have to be able to demonstrate proven outcomes to make it worthwhile.
Getting Alignment Across GTM
Alignment across teams is often the number one pain point we hear from companies using an ABM strategy. From sales to CFOs and everyone in between, you need to get everyone on the same page for success.
ABM Funnel Overview: Don’t Just Focus on Net New
Our data shows that most ABM programs are focusing on the first half of the funnel: acquisition vs. retention. It’s easy to get caught up in driving new acquisitions and accelerating pipeline, but if you stop ABM when you close a deal, you’re only halfway there!
There’s so much opportunity to continue building on that momentum with existing customers throughout the entire lifecycle, with cross-selling, up-selling, increased personalization, and even potentially creating champions for your company.
Implementing strategic plans for retention and adoption throughout the customer journey is key to fully capitalizing on the power of ABM. But first, we need to go back to the basics to build our ABM program from the ground up.
“1 out of 4 ABM programs are built on quicksand, meaning that they don’t have the solid foundations in place to ensure success down the road.
—Jess Fisher, Senior Director of Demand Generation, Sendoso
Back to ABM Basics
Whether you’re just starting out with ABM or you’re a seasoned expert, there are several critical steps that need to be in place to be successful down the road. Let’s check them all out!
- Alignment: In the Alignment stage, you need to establish a solid strategy, set goals and decide how you’ll track them, secure budget, and assign roles to everyone on your team. But achieving alignment is easier said than done.
At Sendoso, we’ve seen success with getting all stakeholders on a weekly pipeline call to review and discuss the data to help everyone get on the same page. The data speaks for itself, so it’s easier to get the conversation started when you’re armed with numbers.
- Research: Next comes the research stage—don’t skip this one! This is where you dig in to understand who your customers are. Creating customer profiles, identifying the key decision-makers at the target organization, and mapping the buyer journey are all critical steps toward creating a solid ABM foundation.
- Build: Now for the fun part! You’ve done your homework, so you’re all set up to start creating hyper-personalized tactical assets, campaigns, and content. It’s also a good idea to coordinate automations, dashboards, and sales cadences for outreach, so you can start tracking results as soon as you go live.
- Launch, measure, and iterate: This final step is crucial, because it’s where you’ll see what’s working and what’s not. We recommend starting with a pilot launch so you can pivot and make changes if needed! You can also set up a reporting cadence to make sure you stay on top of everything.
Measuring results and communicating them to the whole team is a key part of this process, so everyone is working with the same information. From here, you can continually refine and optimize your program based on the results, and hopefully get buy-in for more resources down the line!
Top ABM Strategies Across the Customer Journey
Now that we’ve established what a strong foundation looks like, it’s time to get into some actionable ABM strategies for each stage of the customer journey. You’ll be an ABM master in no time!
Top of Funnel
Top of funnel is the most popular stage we see based on our data. This is where you can drive new engagement with target accounts and capture new leads. If you lead with your persona research and specific data to select target accounts, you’ll have some great opportunities to break into target accounts using personalized offers and educational content like webinars, direct email, and digital retargeting.
So, how do you incorporate a gifting play into your top of funnel strategy? Here’s a great example: Masterclass looked at their prospects’ interests to help them send highly personalized gifts, like tennis balls to a Serena Williams fan. Genius!
Companies using ABM see a 40% increase in net new revenue.
—6Sense State of Predictable Growth Report
Middle of Funnel
At this stage, your audience is warmed up and they know your brand a little bit. You know them at this point as well, so you can get even more personalized! The goal here is to convert to an MQL and get leads to book a demo.
Common pitfalls here include generic messaging and a one-size-fits-all approach. Avoid this at all costs! People are tired of receiving spam, and they’re being hammered with emails every day. Your messaging needs to be specific to solving their personal pain points using personalized nurture plays, direct mail, and retargeting.
Your gifting play at this point could be something like offering a group experience for the whole buying team, like a pizza-making class or a wine-tasting!
Companies using ABM are seeing a 30% increase in pipeline conversion rates.
Bottom of Funnel
At the bottom of the funnel, prospects are looking for you to tell them why they should go with you over your competitor. This is really your time to shine. Strategies should absolutely include personalized multi-threading, case studies, and ROI reports or calculators to help demonstrate your case. Employing executive outreach, retargeting specific people with your company’s differentiated messaging, and showcasing customer use cases are all effective tactics.
At this buying stage, it’s important that you get through to the top decision-makers. A smart gifting play here is to send personalized gifts for C-suite executives. For example, Anaplan put together packages that included a copy of a high-value Forrester TEI report, snacks, and branded items, so key executives could read through the report while enjoying their snacks or coffee. Simple yet effective!
Companies using ABM see a 133% increase in win rates compared to those that don’t use ABM.
—TOPO 2021 ABM Benchmark Report
After you close the deal, you have a new customer. Congratulations! But the work doesn’t stop there. The goal of the Onboarding Implementation stage is to get your customer educated and up and running as soon as possible, so they can get to value recognition faster. A solid strategy at this stage is using personalized learning tracks focusing on education and the value your company will deliver. A combination of email, online learning, self-led, and direct mail tactics will help everything run smoothly.
At this stage, it’s very important to keep in mind that everyone learns at different speeds and using different styles, so you can’t apply a one-size-fits-all onboarding approach. Take the lead from your customer on how you can best support them through the process.
Companies with structured onboarding see a 10% increase in the first six months.
One of our favorite gifting plays here is sending a “welcome basket” of sorts to celebrate bringing them on board as a customer. A “Back to School” supplies box filled with notebooks, a reusable water bottle, and things they would need to “study” these new materials you’re providing is a great way to get them excited to learn.
This stage is all about improving your relationship with your customers, with the aim of increasing their usage of your product or service in the future. Inspire your customers and showcase new strategies they can use to achieve results, using tactics like CSM focused resources, email nurtures, direct mail, and digital retargeting.
You want to ensure that you’re being a strategic partner for them, and part of that is offering visibility into customer value metrics so you know how to help them. A great way to get your customer more excited is to build in milestones to the customer lifecycle and send a gift when they hit one of those milestones, like cupcakes for crushing their value metrics!
18.5% are more likely to repurchase if they are inspired by the company’s customer programs.
The goal in the Expansion stage is to improve stickiness using cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. At this point, you should know your customer very well, so you can help guide them toward expanding in a way that’s right for them. Personalized multi-threading and cross-department collaboration are key to helping you and your customer stay focused on why expansion is a good play.
There is a 60-70% higher probability of selling to existing customers successfully vs. new ones.
—Marketing Metrics Report
Tactics include customer success stories focused on expansion, CSM/AM collaboration, email, and targeted ads. Waiting for your customers to come to you first saying they want to increase usage is a mistake—you need to show them how they could be doing more based on the personalized research and data you’ve acquired over the course of the relationship.
A great example of a gifting play here is to expand into other departments of a current customer’s company using inside knowledge from your champions.
Finally, this is the stage where you can create champions for your company! Be sure to use insights from the customer lifecycle to better inform your renewal opportunities. How are your customers using your product? What kind of metrics have they seen? These are all key questions to consider when approaching a customer for renewal.
78% of B2B buyers said renewing a contract with an existing supplier was easier than finding a new supplier.
The number one pitfall to avoid is assuming someone is a customer for life. Turnover at companies is real, so you need to be multi-threading to ensure multiple people at a company recognize your value. You also want to use your internal data to be prepared with the facts come renewal time.
You want to celebrate your customer for all the victories they’ve had over the customer lifecycle, so why not send them a gift? Provide them with a comprehensive report of all their metrics and successes, along with some champagne to celebrate with.
Above all, when you think of ABM, think full funnel. If you have a strong ABM foundation in place and you’re armed with top strategies for each stage of the customer lifecycle, your company is set up for major success.
With full funnel ABM strategies, you’ll be able to deliver highly personalized resources and experiences to your customers, ultimately getting them well on their way to becoming champions.
Interested in full funnel ABM strategies? Watch the full on-demand webinar, “ABM Mastery: Advanced Strategies for Unlocking Acquisition, Retention, and Growth Potential,” to review what we covered here and to hear the full Q&A at the end.