THE BLOG
11/22/2016 06:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sales 101: An Account-Based Marketing Primer

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It's long been conventional wisdom that trying to reach a wide audience is usually beneficial in business, but far too many companies spend needless resources chasing leads that aren't likely to pay off in the long run. As an alternative strategy, many B2B-focused companies have discovered that account-based marketing has the potential to revolutionize their sales.

By making the simple change of allowing marketing and sales professionals to focus their resources on a specific client, companies are learning that it's possible to create additional value for their customers and reach the untapped potential of their accounts. A recent study found that 60% of organizations that had been using account-based marketing for one year experienced at least a 10% bump in revenue.

The origins of account-based marketing

So if account-based marketing has suddenly become de rigueur for so many innovative B2B organizations, how did we get to this point? Most experts believe that simple forms of account-based marketing emerged in the world of 1960's advertising agencies, where the agencies would pull out all of the stops in order to keep big clients happy. Most agencies relied heavily on the support from these power-player accounts, who would not only make up a substantial portion of their billings, but would also lead to headline-grabbing press that would keep the names of the partners in the news.

Later, it became clear to many B2B sales and marketing leaders that the specificity that was inherent in an account-based marketing strategy could do wonders for their companies. Most B2B-focused organizations target very specific customers, and they discovered that if they created a strategy that took advantage of this in unique ways they could better service their clients and grow revenue from existing accounts. The challenge was to take the very informal practice that emerged from the advertising industry and incorporate the principles into a concrete plan of action that could be replicated, measured, and improved upon.

Deciding if account-based marketing is right for your business

There are many different kinds of companies who can benefit from implementing account-based marketing techniques, but there are a few characteristics that make some organizations particularly well-suited to the process. Your company may be a good candidate for account-based marketing if:

  • You've noticed a disconnect between your marketing and sales functions

One of the key benefits of account-based marketing is that it helps to better integrate your sales and marketing strategies, creating a seamless handoff that results in more conversions.

  • You specialize in targeting a smaller volume of high-value accounts

If your company is already in the business of serving a smaller number of customers that have a potential for significant revenue growth per account, then you will likely benefit greatly from account-based marketing.

  • Your average revenue per account is currently underperforming

In most cases, acquiring new customers is demonstrably more expensive than growing existing accounts. You may be wasting resources by constantly pursuing new revenue when there may be areas where you can provide additional value to your existing customers.

How account-based marketing benefits your customers, employees, and organization

Account-based marketing doesn't exist to wring additional revenue from your customers, it creates an opportunity for your sales and marketing professionals to provide a highly-specialized level of service and discover new ways to provide value for existing clients. It's great for the customers, because research shows that approximately 75% of buyers desire more personalized offers.

Your sales and marketing team members will likely benefit from the strategy as well. Account-based marketing techniques give them the chance to perform targeted research about their clients and industries, gathering knowledge that can help them improve the customer experience and earn exceptional accolades for their services.

Account-based marketing strategies also help to reduce the drain on your resources. You'll spend less time and resources courting leads and prospects that may never convert, and you may also be able to reduce your client churn percentage; a serious concern for most growing B2B organizations.

Guidelines for implementing an account-based marketing strategy

Once you're ready to start reaping the rewards of an account-based marketing strategy, it's important to understand how to optimize the execution and get the most value out of your effort. Initially, your primary focus should be on identifying which accounts and personnel are high-value and how you need to allocate your resources accordingly. Then you can get down to the business of developing overall messaging and creating content that is relevant, valuable, and personalized. This is the stage where robust data analysis truly shines as it allows you to dig deep into what your most valuable customers truly need from your organization. Finally, you can determine the best marketing and sales channels for your specific clients and put your strategy into play.

This post originally appeared on the Tenfold sales acceleration magazine and is republished with permission.

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Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also leads marketing for Conversio, an all-in-one ecommerce marketing dashboard, and Tenfold, a modern phone intelligence platform. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.