Marketing and Sales Leaders Must Adapt To A New Era For B2B To Succeed With ABM And ABX
ABM (Account-Based Marketing) has consistently been viewed as either a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty program. Depending on which surveys you read, statistics are available to show ABM as a successful tactic for marketing. While others show the continued struggle for marketing to gain traction with ABM. You can make a case either for or against ABM depending on which survey statistics you pull from.
An indication the struggle is real is the new term ABX or account-based experience. A response to the challenges and limitations of viewing ABM through the lenses of marketing only. And adopting a lifecycle viewpoint. Jon Miller, chief marketing and product officer of Demandbase is advocating for ABX. Describing existing ABM, Jon stated, “I’ve always described Account-Based Marketing as ‘fishing with spears’.”
This is certainly a step in the right direction. However, a mindset change is needed if ABM or ABX is not to experience a greater than 50% fail rate in the next few years. ABM has been a content-driven program found highly desirable for B2B marketing departments. They can make an impact as some statistics do show. Average deal sizes increase, average revenue per account increases, and there are greater cross-selling opportunities per account. Not all, though, are experiencing such. When looking at the various surveys, collectively, the average number of marketing departments indicating success is usually around 35-40%. Still leaving a large chunk not getting a return.
The mindset change needed is this: Most ABM programs operate from a standpoint of what is good for marketing as opposed to what is good for the buyer. Here is how it sounds from an actual buyer interview with a VP, Marketing for a Global 1,000 company:
“One of our big goals for this year is to increase our ABM function. We need to get more content in front of our target accounts. Get more responses if you will.”
Yes, an admirable goal. One I often hear when it comes to ABM. But clearly, one that is focused on what is good for marketing and not so clear on what is good for the buyer.
How can you then propel your ABM or ABX program forward by having a buyer mindset? A mindset on what is good for the buyer. Here are several ways:
1 – Understand Goals, Issues, and Challenges In Both A Broader and Micro Context
Buyers care about whether you understand their goals. Can address their issues. Help them meet their challenges. All parts of good buyer persona development needed for ABM. ABM or ABX also requires that you understand the relationship between the broader and micro context of goals. Knowledge of how they are interdependent in order to have an impact on a number of levels.
2 – Focus on The Future of Work
A lasting result of the pandemic will be the way in which it has affected how people work. The future of work will be drastically different in the next few years. The idea of buying teams or buying committees will be completely altered. The advent of collective networks getting things done will become the new means of how decisions are reached. If your ABM program is still stuck on physical “buying teams” and not keeping in synch with how work is changing, it will have a hard time succeeding.
3 – Learn to Think Like Your Buyer
You can be assured that buyers are developing new attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, norms, and emotions coming out of the pandemic. Resulting in newly formed mental models drastically impacting their choices and decisions. Understanding the new buyer mindset and building organizational DNA to think like buyers become critical to ABM or ABX success.
4 – Personalization Will Change and ABM Needs to Change With It
New technologies will change personalization extensively. Digital abilities to personalize your interactions with buyers will only increase. However, to succeed, marketing and sales will need to end their reliance on the buyer’s journey. Which is still wedded to old funnel terminology. Instead, it will need to truly understand buyer personas, buyers’ internal buying processes vs generic buyer’s journey, and the new future of work. Where remote collective networks are developed.
For ABM or ABX to succeed, a new mindset will need to take hold. Where intent signals are set, content developed, and buyer interaction is designed not solely on the basis of what is good for marketing. But designed and implemented on the basis of what is good for the buyer.