Why putting people first in ABM matters

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At its core, ABM is about building relationships but this one thing often missing.

I was reminded of this while talking with a VP of Marketing who stopped their account based marketing campaigns to “go deep” in a few segments. The reason? They wanted to focus on building stronger connections with customers on their journey.

In our conversation, we talked about how marketers have more ways to target accounts, technology, tools to observe buying behavior, analytics, personas and more.

All of these things are important to ABM, but there’s often something missing: empathy.

Let me explain.

We can get so caught up in our ABM strategies, systems, tools, and investments that we lose sight of building deep empathy for the people in the accounts.

According to Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor, CEB, now part of Gartner, “empathy” is the one word that matters most to sales success.

Watch the following video:

To build customer empathy, I recommend the following:

Talk with more people in accounts to make ABM better

I’ve found marketers doing ABM can get isolated from the people in the accounts they’re targeting. Why? Because they seldom talk directly with the very people they are reaching with ABM campaigns.

Too often SDRs and sales reps are the only ones consistently talking to people in their targeted accounts and meeting them in person.

Here are some ways to fix that:

  • Interview customers and ask them to share the story of their buying journey so you can help improve the experience customers just like them.
  • Attend events that people in targeted accounts attend have a conversion.
  • Get out in the field with your sales team and meet people in accounts they’re meeting face to face
  • Use social tools to listen in on what people in targeted accounts are sharing/saying

It is critical to know what customers want to serve them better.

In this post, Getting sales enablement right to increase results, Dave Brock tells a great story of early in his career going to where his audience of bankers would for a drink after work and listen in what they talked about and how they talked about it.

For ideas on the questions to ask people in target accounts, read this post: “8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities.”

Listen to what people care about and the words they say

To connect with people, you must listen. Listening sends a strong message that tells customers that this relationship will be more about their needs than ours. This builds trust.

Also, listen with empathy to consciously try to understand and see the world from the other person’s perspective.

Avoid “hearing” through a filter of being a marketer.

Don’t impose your preconceived bias on what you hear, because doing so will inhibit your efforts to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. You want to understand their deeper motivations and why they’re saying what they’re saying.

Additionally, when we listen, customers tell us what they want — in their own words. We can use their language when we market. Are you using words your customers say in your marketing?

Apply your customer understanding to make stronger connections 

ABM strategies that are most effective have, at their foundation, a commitment to creating a genuine human connection and trustworthy relationship.

Customers want to work with people and companies that can step in their shoes and understand the results they are trying to achieve.

Effective marketers understand that customer experience is more emotional than cognitive. And you want to make an emotional connection.

However, before you can do this, you must understand your customer and what motivates them.

Conclusion

At its core, ABM is really about relationships.  That’s why we need to focus our efforts on building real connections with people in the accounts. And that begins with empathy and putting ourselves in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective and experience.

If you want to improve your influence and empathetic connection with people, watch this RSAshort:

In this 3-minute animated video, Dr. Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine, empathetic connection if we are brave enough to get in touch and be real as people.

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