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Marketing, as life, often gives you the test and then the lesson.
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a lousy place to go this route. The stakes are higher. This is marketing to win an important account, a big investment with a substantial payoff. It’s marketing under a microscope, where minor areas of miscommunication can have a major impact.
We’d like to share some lessons learned on how to tap into the DNA of an account, and share two tools that can leverage your ABM success.
Key 1: Look beyond the C-suite (sell to the buyers)
I get it. If you can impress the person who “signs the checks”…need I say more? Actually, yes.
We’ve just completed persona research that involved talking to CEOs worldwide about how purchase decisions are made. They told us how they find out about new products and services, and what they’re looking for:
Information on technological advances, products, services, etc. bubbles up from the executives who contribute to the buying center. The CEO, and other C executives, rely on these executives to research and recommend new and innovative ways to address the company’s issues and turn them into opportunities
Let me paraphrase one of the CEOs:
“You marketing guys think that you have to talk to me. But I really don’t want to talk to you. There are smart, talented people who run our departments. Each has a responsibility, and a curiosity to gather information and assess what’s being developed and tested and may help us. You must earn their trust and learn their specific needs. I rely on them.”
What to do instead?
Focus on understanding the agendas of the key individual stakeholders. We call these profiles “prospect personas” because they identify what it takes to win each stakeholder who really DOES shape the team decision.
The key to these personas is what we call the Key Prospect Insight, or KPI. This KPI is the single core truth that can best connect your prospects with your products. It’s why they might buy.
You can get our templates for the Prospect Persona and KPI here.
Key 2: Profile the account itself (not just the stakeholders)
The process of employing Account Based Marketing is multi-dimensional by necessity – this is a team sport involving equal bits of sales and marketing to win strategic top accounts that drive our reputation as well as sales.
Just as the corporation you are targeting has many personas, so the company itself has shared characteristics that make the way you win that opportunity different than the way you win another. We call this the Account Persona.
Why does this matter?
Because in our 15 years of research on how B2B companies make vendor selections, we have found that compatibility or “fit” is an often-overlooked factor. This is not so surprising if you consider that companies on the “short list” in a high-level selection process are apt to have reasonably similar offerings.
As veterans of several major advertising agencies and numerous account pitches, we became adept at identifying the distinctive corporate culture of each firm so we knew what “brand voice” would fit with each organization.
How can we improve fit?
In the same way, marketing can equip the ABM team with a tangible understanding of what characterizes a particularly large prospect – or set of prospects – to maximize cultural fit and minimize chances of losing an opportunity even when you have a good or even superior product:
- What are the values of this industry?
- What are the strengths this company is seeking to reinforce its competitiveness in that industry?
- What is the role of this type of product in delivering that strength?
- How do you believe this prospect company views your company?
- In what way could your firm mirror the way this company wants to be viewed by its prospects?
But wait! There’s more. Look for more keys to successfully closing opportunities in our next posting.