Accounts-based marketing (ABM) can produce a great ROI for B2B brands. It’s a strategy that focuses on directing your marketing and sales efforts towards your most high-value accounts, so you get the very most out of your work. By hyper-focusing on the leads that are the most beneficial to your business, you can half the amount of sales time wasted on unproductive leads and see a revenue increase of over 200%!

To achieve this, ABM aligns your sales and marketing teams into a cohesive unit that focuses on each of your accounts. It’s a proven strategy, with 84% of marketers citing ABM as a means to improve relationships with existing customers and increase overall CLV.

But to get started with ABM, you need to know which accounts deserve your time and focus. It’s all about building long-term relationships with those high-value customers, so you need to know how to connect with the right ones. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can select your target, high-value accounts.

Getting started with account-based marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM), or key account marketing is the hot thing in B2B marketing right now. When you see stats that state things like 87% of marketers who have implemented ABM report higher ROI than any other type of marketing, maybe you’re thinking “I should give this ABM thing a go.”

Define your goals

The first step to picking the right accounts for your ABM strategy is to define the goals of your campaign. You need to understand what business objectives you’re trying to achieve with these target accounts. Once your goals have been decided and agreed upon by both the marketing and sales team, you’ll then have a much clearer idea of the right accounts to target. Some examples of goals for ABM include:

  • Re-engage big prospects from a closed-lost deal
  • Drive engagement
  • Upsell, cross-sell, or renew existing customers
  • Accelerate deals

Having clear goals will also help you decide how much time and resources are needed to close your target accounts. For goals that include targeting the right accounts for ABM, you’ll need to define your ideal customer profile so you can pick the accounts that match it.

Create an ideal customer profile

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is the buyer profile that represents your perfect customer and can be used as part of your ABM strategy to identify target accounts, as it’ll help you better understand your target customers. It allows you to define your customer’s problems, challenges, needs, etc, and choose the right products and services you can offer them to resolve their problems.

With an ICP you can focus on the accounts most likely to do business with you, so both the marketing and sales team can have an idea of which accounts are worth pursuing. Here are some examples of the kinds of metrics you can use to define your ICP:

  • Industry
  • Size of company
  • Budget
  • Location
  • Annual revenue
  • Buyer behavior

These kinds of data points can help you identify what your ideal customer looks like and identify the qualities a lead needs to have to be able to buy from you. If they don’t meet all your predefined characteristics, then you can disqualify them from your ABM strategy so you’re only spending time and resources on customers that are the best fit. This kind of information about your accounts can be found in a number of sources, like annual reports or LinkedIn.

Once you have the ICP accounts identified, you need to review the companies matching these qualities on a regular basis to see who is worth making a target account. ICPs can provide you with a great source of target accounts that leverage the inbound funnel you’ve already built.

Your guide to ABM team structure success
Since ABM is all about marketing and sales working closely together, it’s important to structure your teams properly. It needs to be clear who takes ownership of what and who reports to whom if you’re going to be successful with ABM.

Account tiering

When you have your list of target accounts, you then need to narrow it down further so the list isn’t too overwhelming for the sales team. Targeting individual accounts requires time and resources as they’ll each need personalized messaging, so you’ll need to pick just a few accounts that are a good match for your ABM campaign. By tiering your accounts, you can find the ones that are the best match for your ICP.

Consider a three-tiered system for your accounts:

  • Tier 1 - accounts that are a perfect match for your ICP
  • Tier 2 - accounts that are a good match but have a low lifetime value
  • Tier 3 - accounts that don't match your ICP

Tiers can help you determine if a target account is worth pursuing, and a customer relationship management system can help to create a workflow that identifies the accounts that match up to your ICP.

Data-driven account-targeting

Data is one of the most powerful tools in marketing, and it can help fuel your ABM strategy. There are two key kinds of data that you can use to create company-level insights: firmographics and technographics.

Firmographics are the company characteristics that will predict a good fit for your accounts, like the size of their company, the industry, number of employees, estimated growth and revenue, and their location/s. Whereas technographics refers to the technology your target accounts currently use or want to invest in. This allows you to determine if your kinds of products and services would be complementary to what they already have or provide a competitive solution.

By using these two data points, you can create a deep account-based intelligence, and your marketing and sales team will be better equipped to identify an account’s needs and their likelihood to buy.

How to strategize for ABM
This article will provide you with an overview of what your strategy should look like and what you should be focusing on to make your ABM campaign effective.

Identify key stakeholders

Once you’ve got your accounts identified, you need to determine the key stakeholders within those companies, the individuals who hold the purchasing power. You’ll need their specific details like their job title, their level of influence, their place within the company hierarchy, etc. These insights are crucial for helping you understand what kind of messaging you need to prepare and how to personalize the content towards these individuals.

For smaller companies, the stakeholders may only include a couple of people, whereas larger accounts may have many. So you’ll need to personalize a plan for each so you can create a smooth experience for these potential buyers. These insights will not only help with the personalized experience but will build trust and credibility within your brand.

Final thoughts

Your company goals and objectives will help you select and pursue the specific companies you wish to target, but selecting the right accounts is a crucial step when implementing your ABM strategy, as choosing the wrong ones can set you back. But when you find those high-value accounts, your brand will see exponential growth.

Got questions about identifying high-value accounts for ABM? Maybe you've got some advice to share. Head to the B2B Marketing Alliance Community!