Account-based marketing III - metrics, post-acquisition support and relationships

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher January 19, 2017
In the final installment of her Account-Based Marketing series, Barb ties up some vital loose ends, including expert takes on how you measure success, and which metrics count. She pulls in expert views on the problem of sales-marketing collaboration, and asks you, the reader, for your feedback on where we go on ABM from here.

There is no shortage of guidance on account-based marketing. It’s the topic du jour, and it’s only getting hotter. We’ve talked about strategy, tactics, technology and more, but there are a few final items of interest we’ll cover in this final column in my series. Let’s get the party started!

Getting sales and marketing to play nice

Depending on your organization, your sales and marketing teams may get along well or may bicker like little children who fight for their mother’s attention. It’s never good for these two groups to not get along, but when it comes to account-based marketing, it’s critical.

Marketo senior director of marketing, Charm Bianchini, said that collaboration is critical (all our experts did). Bianchini said that sales and marketing must work together at the outset to ensure the foundation for your ABM strategy is solid and understood by everyone.

Victoria Godfrey, CMO of Avention said that both teams need to be looking at the same customer information. By aligning around data, they can agree which accounts are key and what each account’s specific needs are.

To take it a step further, Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, said the two need to agree on some key definitions, such as what a qualified lead or a qualified opportunity is. He also said they need to agree on exactly what it means to be at each stage.

Other things sales and marketing need to align around are the metrics that measure progress and success, like required pipeline, lead input and others.

Smarketing is how Sangram Vajre, CMO of Terminus referred to the relationship between the two. For his company, sales and marketing are one, and they look at something he called “allbound activity” as opposed to inbound or demand generation. Vajre said the combination of all the different types of activities is what engages an account, no one specific activity type.

Bring sales and marketing together on a regular basis. Weekly meetings to review progress and discuss next steps, constant communication during execution and a quick way to see approach, definitions, objectives, and metrics are all important.

Heinz said building that relationship is foundational and it could take some time. So don’t get frustrated if everyone doesn’t align out of the gate.

The metrics you need to track to keep you on track

To know how you’re doing you need to measure. Heinz said that it’s much harder to measure ABM though because it’s not linear or transactional. It also includes inputs from many different channels:

I’d argue intent is more important that accuracy in ABM measurement.  Start moving your sales & marketing in the right direction and you’ll improve results (even if you can’t exactly measure everything). - Heinz

That being said, there are metrics you can define. Bianchini said there are two primary metrics: revenue and sales pipeline. These are already shared between marketing and sales, so they are good indicators of progress. Here are some others that she and Godfrey noted:

  • Net new names for specific accounts
  • # of registrations for programs
  • # of meetings sales executives book with a prospect
  • Account penetration
  • Deal size
  • Engagement from key contacts with your content assets

Vajre believes the most important KPI is stage-based progression. This is the number of accounts you’re targeting that progress to the next stage of the sales cycle.

At the beginning, how many of the accounts that you were trying to “warm up” actually scheduled demos? How many of those accounts became opportunities? Within your customer base, how many accounts renewed or were upsold? These are the important metrics to track, not MQLs or net-new leads. - Vajre

Something Godfrey pointed out is that the metrics for account-based marketing are still being defined. They may also be different for each company Bianchini said, based on what matters most to your company.

I think the key takeaway is to measure something that shows your strategy is moving prospects in the right direction.

It’s not all about winning customers; it’s also about keeping them

Account-based marketing is not just about winning new customers; it’s also about keeping and growing your existing customer base. All of our experts agreed that ABM is about the entire customer lifecycle.

ABM at its peak performance is about lifetime value, not just initial sale.  I could argue that ABM’s roots are in land-and-expand account strategy, not just acquisition.

Some companies, Godfrey noted, start their ABM strategy using existing customers. She said that ABM enables a company to service their current customers better because it enables them to provide additional solutions or services based on account activity.

If you have the right information on key accounts and contacts within that account, you actually might be able to gain more ROI from that existing account than you could with a new one.  - Godfrey

Bianchini noted a study by Alterra Group that found that 84 percent of marketers said their ABM strategy provided significant benefits to their efforts to retain and expand existing relationships.

If you are only thinking about ABM in the context of acquisition, it’s time to rethink your approach and mix in some activities that focus on current accounts. Vajre said that some of the most valuable campaigns you can run with an ABM mindset are pipeline velocity, upsell/cross-sell and tailoring your message based on this particular stage.

My take

In this series on account-based marketing, we’ve looked at many aspects of how to do ABM right, including what not to do. There’s so much opportunity to reach out and convert the best prospects using this approach as opposed to a ton of inbound campaigns that typically generate lots of leads, mostly unqualified.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do inbound, or demand generation, but ABM is an approach that can work for not just new customers, but for maintaining and growing existing relationships - equally, if not more, important.

So I have a question for you. Did I miss anything key for successful account-based marketing? There’s so much to cover and so many examples of how it is being done well, and not so well. Feel free to share your thoughts, your stories and your suggestions for what not to do, in the comments below, or on Twitter or LinkedIn. We’d love to have an open conversation.

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