More and more B2B organizations are deploying account-based strategies. In the high-tech executive suites and grungy boiler rooms across the globe, enthusiastic teams filled with hope are concocting lists, readying programs and shifting resources – people, time and budget – to account-based revenue (ABR) efforts.
Normally, I’m a big fan of diving in, experimenting and then building out a scalable model. However, with both ABR and account-based marketing (ABM), foundational planning is essential. Why?
First off, organizations must determine if an account-based approach is viable for their business. For those that dive in, account-based efforts often start with the sales team who submit their top-preferred accounts.
It makes sense. Sales is on the frontline and has a good idea of what they need to crush their quota. The result is a wish-list that looks suspiciously like the Fortune 1000 list. You know the list: Exxon, Coca-Cola, Walmart, American Express, etc. This feels really good and bolsters our enthusiasm to make it happen, but hardly assures success.
In my experience working with B2B marketing and sales organizations (as well as getting our own account-based strategy efforts underway at Integrate), the move-the-needle results occur when planning, execution and refinement are implemented as a unified sales and marketing team.
Each function plays its role, and often involves finance, ops and even customer support teams. This collaborative approach keeps the company focused on the ultimate goal – generating predictable and profitable revenue.
So, how can you implement a scalable ABR strategy that will add value to the business? Here’s a methodical approach to account-based planning that sales and marketing teams can use to bring predictability and scale into revenue generation.
1. Always start with Total Available Market (TAM)
How big is your market for your products and which organizations make up TAM? Identifying your TAM is one of the most skipped stages in account-based and demand generation efforts; yet it’s the most important step for long-term success. To calculate your TAM, you’ll first determine how many companies exist that fit your profile. This does not have to be precise, but gives a universe to start from.
2. Prioritize TAM by market segments based on existing customer success
In which vertical markets (healthcare, financial services, government, etc.) within your company’s TAM are you seeing the most traction, based on your unique value proposition. Start here for the account list. If you’re still developing specific use cases and applications for various vertical markets, don’t make them part of the account-based strategy, yet. Rather, do some reconnaissance, get a few wins and then profile and move them into your account-based revenue efforts.
3. Use predictive analytics tools and intelligent data sources to identify accounts most likely to buy and/or to be in-market
B2B marketers are increasingly using predictive and intent data as well as MarTech to help prioritize opportunities on a real-time basis. There are good options to trial here. Lessons from many B2B marketing practitioners guide us to make tools and intelligent data an additive layer to TAM and segmentation over time. For planning, here are definitions of intent data and predictive data to go deeper.
4. Match data and MarTech up with your sales team’s wish list
Now pull out that sales team target-account wish list. Data modelling and planning is essential, but doing a “sniff” test with sales executives to define accounts is a good reality check. This will further help prioritize and evaluate the best account-based approach for your business and where to focus your marketing effort.
5. Drill into decision-maker personas within target accounts
It’s important to note – accounts don’t buy anything people do. All the account-based strategy planning in the world won’t be effective unless you:
- identify the right personas within the target-account buying committees, and
- have a smart strategy to discover, engage and get a discussion going with these decision-makers regarding their needs and opportunities.
For us B2B marketers, the account-based movement is a good opportunity for us to be proactive and bring a quantitative, informed approach to revenue generation.