As a CMO, I’ve learned a lot from others in my career and I continue to appreciate any opportunity to learn from my colleagues. One of the best ways to do this is to bring together a group of experts in their respective fields and give them the mic. That’s what we did with our recent ABM-themed meetup.
The lights were up, the stage was set, and the knowledge was dropped.
With the backdrop of a perfect San Francisco evening at New Relic’s downtown office, People.ai brought together an expert group of marketing leaders to discuss effective ways to design, refine, and execute cutting-edge account-based marketing strategies.
The panel consisted of Shay Loanzon, ABM Manager at New Relic, Perri Garner, Director of ABM at DocuSign, Yuri Daniels, Director of Performance Marketing at Zenefits, and Liz Kokoska, Director of Regional and Partner Marketing at Okta.
We structured the conversation into three key areas that make up good ABM best practices:
- Target Accounts – How marketing can work with sales to define the right accounts
- Defining the Buying Unit or decision-making unit – How to ensure that your marketing efforts are targeting the right people
- How to execute – Tactics to execute a successful ABM campaign
The discussion was lively, and as an Emcee, I was delighted with the level of participation from all the panelists. There’s no way I can summarise the entire session because there was too much good stuff (You can view the recording here), but here are a few key things from the session:
Baseline ABM – work with sales to create the target account list.
Knowing who you’re talking to will help to establish the content you create and deliver. While it’s important for marketing to own this first step, it requires close alignment with sales teams since those leads will eventually be owned by sales.
Perri from DocuSign learned that if you bring sales into the planning process sooner, they’ll be more invested in the program’s success. It’s important for marketing to own the development of the target accounts list because this step is heavily dependant on data. Oftentimes, sales teams don’t have data-driven motives when providing feedback, so keep that in mind and always cross-reference suggestions you receive with the data you’ve already collected. For example, you can leverage things like product fit and intent data to score and prioritize accounts. Data analysis is becoming an increasingly important tool for marketer’s to improve their strategies, and this process consists of data collection, qualifying data accuracy, and evaluating the types of data points you’re collecting.
Now that you’ve convinced your sales teams to take an interest in the success of your campaigns, you’ll need to set them up with the tools to succeed. Yuri from Zenefits advises heavily investing in training and enablement to equip sales with the right talking points and positioning so that they are prepared when new marketing content is released. This might mean creating all of the talk tracks for your SDR team or setting weekly “feedback” meetings with sales.
Regardless of how you choose to enable your sales team, once you do so you’ll discover that not only will they feel more confident talking about the content you’ve created, but they’ll also be more willing to actually share your content with an understanding of its relevance. This results in a higher percentage of your prospects consuming the right content and enables sales teams to address the right pain points with their outreach.
Once your target account lists are finalized, you need to make sure you’re talking to the right people at those accounts. For your messaging to make a real impact, it’s critical to define your decision-making unit. Sometimes referred to as a buying center or demand-unit, this group of individuals consists of the key stakeholders involved in the acquisition of a product or technology.
Perri from DocuSign suggests this process begins with your Product Marketers. This is the team best suited to define the target personas. Work with them to build a matrix outlining the functions, titles, and pain points you want to address, and then build a framework of messaging and content to address each cross-section of the grid you’ve constructed. Don’t stop there, make sure you’ve validated the matrix with sales and your value engineering team as these people shape how product provides value to customers.
Similar to what we heard about constructing your target account list – it all comes back to data. Liz and her team at Okta recently hired a Director of Database to analyze the common personas across their customers to compare with the contacts in their database. Although this project is in its infancy, they’re working to determine where gaps exist and what steps they need to take to fill those gaps. Identifying the right personas and making sure that you actually have those people in your database goes a long way toward matching the right content with the right people. If you’re producing amazing content, but you’re talking to the wrong people – you’re wasting your efforts.
Finally, once you’ve developed your target accounts and have chosen who you should be talking to, you’ll need to develop the tactics to execute your ABM campaigns. According to Shay from New Relic, ABM campaigns differ from normal marketing campaigns because account-based marketing takes a holistic approach to engage with prospects and customers. At New Relic, Shay and her team focus campaigns and messaging across multiple channels against a single persona at one time. This helps to stay consistent and avoid causing confusion by trying to address too many pain points at once.
What’s a good way to do that? Yuri suggests starting with a single asset, like an eBook for example, and building tertiary assets around that such as webinars, social posts, and live events. Our very own Tim White calls these “tent poles,” where you come up with a common theme and develop assets to engage your prospects through multiple channels. Giving yourself a range of content and channels to choose from provides your team with the flexibility to control the conversation as well as the timing of your engagement.
Use tools like People.ai to help you achieve each of these three steps.
You can use a tool like People.ai to leverage the power of AI to automatically surface how sales is working deals, who they are engaged with at accounts, match contacts to the correct sales opportunity, and what is happening at each stage of the sales pipeline.
With insights from the People.ai platform, marketing and sales get a clear visualization of who is involved in the opportunity and which roles might be in the decision-making unit. This gives you clear insight into the personas involved in decision-making units — and lets you define a profile of your “ideal customers.”
Once you know the personas, you can partner with sales to drive more effective marketing at the right stages of the sales opportunity.
Ready to learn how to get clarity on the decision-making units at your target accounts?
Download The Marketer’s Guide to Identifying Decision-Making Units at Target Accounts to learn:
- How to discern which personas are in your target accounts’ decision-making unit (and what they need you to solve for them)
- Why you must align sales and marketing on the same target accounts (and how to do it)
- What to measure to ensure you’re on target and on track
- How AI can do the heavy lifting for you and free up your team to focus on creating high impact marketing campaigns