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Six simple steps to successful ABM planning

Alison Clements
Alison Clements

By their very nature, B2B companies tend to sell to a narrow list of prospects. This is normally done using a combination of inbound, outbound, and account-based marketing (ABM) techniques to get in front of the best prospects. At Fieldworks, our experience of the retail technology market is that most B2B marketers and sales teams probably aren’t marketing to accounts as effectively as they could.

So, what can be done to roll out ABM successfully in the retail technology market, and get meaningful results?

Whether you are preparing to launch your first ABM pilot, or you have fully adopted ABM as an integrated component of your go-to-market strategy, you need to build and maintain a well-orchestrated plan for execution.

Step One ‑ Structure detailed ABM plans at the Account Level

ABM programmes are intended to facilitate personalised engagement with your target accounts.  That means a one-size-fits-all plan won’t work. Rather, your team must build and deploy contextualised messaging and content for your role-based contacts. So, for Supply Chain Directors, articles and social messaging concerning logistical operations and fulfilment strategy will be relevant. Conversely, CEOs, CFOs and CIOs are more likely to be interested in top level consumer trends, market research and financial statistics.

If you are running a small-scale ABM pilot or running an ABM programme for a set of high-priority accounts, then each of those accounts will likely require individual account plans. If you are deploying ABM at a larger scale and/or for middle-tier accounts, then a segment-based plan will be more practical.

As part of the planning, assign an ‘Account Marketer’ to guide accounts through the planning process. This person will be responsible for co-ordinating with sales and other key stakeholders to generate relevant input and define roles and responsibilities.

 

Step Two – Research what matters to prospects

For ABM to get results, it’s vital to personalise communications to an account, based on their current initiatives and challenges. Companies evolve quickly so smart vendors monitor changes and trigger events at their target accounts. It pays to keep a close eye on industry news, and another important element is social listening – monitoring and responding to social activity – particularly LinkedIn posts and Twitter.

Unlike PR-driven articles and press releases, social data helps uncover what key prospects care about. For example, people often use social to share ‘good news’ that matters to them such as recent achievements and attendance at industry events. Social data is invaluable to the account-based marketing model. When creating an account-based marketing programme, marketers should be agile and re-direct or re-message when new information is discovered.

 

Step Three – Collaborate with sales through the planning process.

At Fieldworks, our ABM approach starts and ends with the sales team, working alongside them to ensure that the messages in the company’s vision, value proposition and solution set are communicated consistently, right through to the sales pitch.

A strong, transparent relationship between the marketing and sales departments will be vital for an effective ABM programme to perform its best. Representatives from both should collaborate closely on ABM plans, with sales sharing their ideas and feedback on content plans. Input from each group can enhance the quality of plans, facilitate coordinated account engagement across channels, and increase the level of sales buy-in on the ABM programme.

It may be that sales colleagues know whether prospects respond well to case studies, or prefer in-depth consumer research. Such insights could inform the content plan and ABM activities.

 

Step Four – Master ABM-powered content

Developing great ABM content follows the same fundamental rules that govern effective content strategy. Every piece of content, from blogs, to LinkedIn Publisher Posts to social media messages should be able to answer three key questions: Who is it for? What is the context? How can it be followed up?

Once you have those three things in place – with research constantly being carried out – you can begin to execute your ABM content quickly and effectively.

 

Step Five – Create an Account Planning Guide for users

To facilitate both an effective and a consistent planning process, develop a planning template with a standard series of questions for the sales team and marketers associated with the account.

If your sales team already uses an account planning template, you will likely achieve easier adoption if you simply build on to that existing template, adding additional questions relevant to ABM.

 

Step Six – Keep the ABM programme alive for long term benefits

Account plans won’t offer much value if they are forgotten after initial completion.  Plans should be easily accessible, and marketing and sales should host joint meetings to revisit and optimise account plans on a regular basis.

 

Talk to Fieldworks today about our ABM services. http://www.fieldworksmarketing.co.uk/services/account-based-marketing/

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