The Evolution Of Account-Based Marketing

Meaghan Sullivan

A new model of “account-based marketing” (ABM) has begun to emerge. This evolved version of ABM developed thanks to social tools, Big Data, and a connected sales force. SiriusDecisions 2015 State of ABM study found that 92 percent of companies understand the value of ABM, even if they lack an approach to implementing it. The biggest opportunity for many businesses today is putting together the talent and tools to make ABM work.

ABM builds relationships and organizational maps to guide you in better serving the customer. Engagement and communication are key as your data systems help you map the connective structures of top accounts.

Get the big picture, earn big insights

ABM transforms marketing and product development. It helps you understand your clients and what they are trying to achieve. With that understanding, you can identify the organizational processes that are no longer productive. In the past, the solutions-based sales model targeted a single symptom based on what your company can do. ABM turns that process around and starts with what the customer needs to achieve their goals. Applying social data and new decision-support technology, you gain a comprehensive understanding of a company’s needs and assets, which serves as the basis of your customer acquisition strategy.

The goal for each individual customer is to stimulate positivity inside their organization using personalized messaging. Convince a small group of supporters at first; these will be your advocates inside the target customer who can get the ball rolling. ABM motivates these supporters by delivering messages that get to the heart of what matters to them as individuals.

Once they see the value of your solution, these supporters begin discussing what your solutions could do for them individually. As synergy builds, these supporters gain passion about your services. That passion expands as conversations sweep through the organization. This generates an internal force driving the selection of your solutions. The final purchase decision becomes inevitable.

The pieces fall into place when your supporters come together for their own reasons. This makes implementation easier after the purchase, too. You already have transition champions who feel touched by your solutions. Each of them understands a different aspect of what you can do and that passion motivates everyone.

ABM produces insights about individual advocates, and it offers insights about the company as a whole. ABM puts your marketing and sales teams in possession of a complete picture of organizational structures and dynamics than the company—often more than the company knows about itself. This is a powerful advantage that promises to transform the B2B landscape. ABM offers a valuable component in the customer relationship and a competitive advantage to those who master it.

Where to look: ABM’s 3 focus areas

ABM is in its early stages, so companies that invest can become the leaders of tomorrow. That’s true for targeting and converting coveted plum accounts and for understanding the key demographics they represent. The insights gained will unlock market share across the emerging sectors and facilitate the development of winning content and proven marketing strategies.

ABM is about relationships. You will be able to dig deeper with your insights into target customers. As you discover ways to target and motivate supporters, you learn how they expand their influence over large groups. You will build a repeatable model for stronger customer relationships and increased customer loyalty.

Here are three areas of ABM to help you break ground in this field and move ahead rapidly.

  1. New account acquisition

Everyone in B2B is scrambling to adapt to changes in the buyer’s journey. According to one widely quoted statistic, 70 percent of the purchase decision-making process is complete before the buyer talks to a sales person. ABM is the advanced response to that. It helps you acquire new accounts by targeting influential people with digital marketing tactics and thought leadership at the top of the funnel. This is the key to getting the right information to the right person to gain the trust of a new account.

  1. Account nurturing

Each of your target accounts are at different stages in the purchase process. ABM is designed to provide engaging content to move each individual account closer to the purchase decision. The process involves building a better relationship with potential buyers and re-engaging lost or inactive accounts for repeat business. ABM, in association with other digital marketing tactics, helps you re-spark the passion for your solutions with formerly active buyers. Don’t let these value assets slip away. Your company has a huge advantage with these customers due to past relationships. Somewhere inside those organizations, there are people who remember and were excited about your solutions. ABM inspires a re-commitment to your company.

  1. Account growth

A good customer buys your solutions on a regular basis. A great customer recommends your company to their friends. Account growth should be measured based on your ability to build better relationships by promoting cross-sells and up-sells. Good customers already see how valuable your services are. They are using it, so they have stories to share with their networks. ABM helps you return to these customers and sell your portfolio of other solutions. Your revenue risks decrease as you strengthen the supply chain. Customers benefit from a drop in operating costs when they buy more from the same company. ABM helps you learn how to be the one-stop shop for customers.

Bringing it all together

Nearly 83 percent of companies that have tested ABM and 72 percent of companies that depend on ABM say they intend to use it more in the coming year. Although ABM began as a new account acquisition strategy, many find ABM’s greatest strengths in account nurturing and account growth. Ultimately, this evolved version of ABM is the answer for driving pipeline, increasing brand awareness, securing customer loyalty, and boosting profitability in the B2B environment. It’s not a minute too soon and there’s not another second to waste.

Want more ABM insight and strategies to boost your business? See Should All Customers Get Account-Based Marketing Benefits?


Meaghan Sullivan

About Meaghan Sullivan

Meaghan Sullivan is the vice president of Global Channel Marketing at SAP. In this role, she is tasked with accelerating global indirect revenue through channel marketing practices with a focus on VARs and Distributors. Sullivan focuses on Partner-Lead Demand Generation activities to provide SAP partners with innovative programs, campaigns and resources that enable them to more efficiently market their SAP solutions and services.