This past Tuesday evening (October 17), TechTarget and Discover.org invited me to share some wisdom about success strategies for account-based marketing (ABM) with a couple dozen customers,
prospects, and friends. If you missed it, here’s a quick synopsis:
It’s 2017. ABM was new in 2004, but not any longer. What’s different today? It’s much easier to access and use data to understand your accounts — and key decision makers inside those accounts — on a more individualized and practical level.
Key customer insights impact every stage of ABM success, from selecting and targeting the right accounts, to gathering information about the issues they face and the key contacts with whom you should connect, to designing an engagement plan that leverages the relative strengths of marketing and sales to (finally) orchestrating interactions with those accounts in a personalized, relevant manner. The bad news? Account-based marketing is not a silver bullet.
Despite the hype, marketers are achieving ABM success slowly; 64% of B2B marketing executives and professionals are just beginning, haven’t started, or have no plans for ABM programs (Source: Forrester’s Q1 International B2B Marketing Panel Online Survey).
Trust me, you are not alone in your uncertainty when it comes to really understanding how to make ABM succeed. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t pay off. To be successful, you have to make your buyers the center of your ABM strategy and operating model. This happens only at the highest maturity level in Forrester’s 4-tiered framework we call the Customer-Obsessed Operating Model.
To be customer-obsessed, marketers must go beyond firmographics, demographics, and a smattering of insight from your internal databases to really understand what makes their customers tick. Customer-obsessed firms foster stronger customer relationships by developing not only the tools, data, and processes to better understand customers — but the insight to demonstrate empathy and the cultural belief that obsession is essential to their success. And it pays off: Customer-Obsessed B2B firms are twice as likely to enjoy loyal customer relationships and see revenue growth in excess of 10% in the last fiscal year.
ABM is a powerful tool, the application of which also helps companies to become more customer-obsessed. If you are struggling with ABM today, remember that customer obsessed companies are statistically more successful than their less-obsessed peers and more likely to create customer relationships that go the distance. In fact, 40% of those we surveyed said they see ABM demonstrating value today by increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities within target accounts.
How do you make ABM succeed? Increase your customer-obsession maturity by reinventing your structure, culture, talent, metrics, processes, and technology while you work to understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.