Monday, June 26, 2017

How Account-Based Marketing Changes the Business Developer’s Role

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” — Charles Darwin

A Shift from Inbound Marketing

After decades when there were few changes in marketing, in the 1990s, internet marketing was born. Then around the turn of the century, new technologies gave way to inbound marketing, putting the power in the buyer’s hands. The goal of inbound marketing was to attract prospects by providing information that helped them learn about solutions to their problems.

While inbound marketing can attract leads, it casts a wide net across the market. You may need to throw many leads away because they’re not qualified. Meanwhile, the ones you want may swim right by your net. So while inbound marketing is great when you want to go after a broad market, it’s not as effective at bringing home the accounts that can change the trajectory of your organization.

A More Targeted Approach: Account-Based Marketing

A more focused approach, account-based marketing, is now gathering steam. It’s a strategy you can use to bring the specific accounts you want into your fold.

To implement account-based marketing, you must change the role of your business developers. They no longer need to sort through and qualify the fish that swim into their nets. Instead, they must reach out to the prospective high-value accounts.

Because each targeted account could represent significant long-term revenue streams for your organization, marketers and business developers can afford to put time into research that enables them to personalize their communications. Here are four steps to getting started with account-based marketing, which will increase your business developers’ efficiency and success rates.

1. Decide Which Companies to Target

Use the Pareto rule (about 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the causes) to assess the accounts on your roster. Analyze the firmographics of the roughly 20 percent of your accounts that represent 80 percent of your profits. You probably want to target accounts that look similar. Also, you likely want to target those that are the next step up the ladder. Once you know the firmographics of ideal accounts, you can develop a profile and find the companies that meet it.

2. Filter Them Down

While you now know which companies you’d like to onboard, that doesn’t mean they are interested. Rather than wasting a lot of time running after them all, find out which companies are in the market for what you sell. To do so, use predictive marketing analytics, which uses online click histories and offline data to forecast buying interest.

Adding predictive analytics to your lead qualification process can substantially improve your results. In a study that EverString commissioned with Forrester Consulting, they discovered that companies that used predictive analytics were almost three times more likely to surpass the average growth rates in their industries.

3. Find the Buying Team

Most likely, your reps can’t win the deal communicating with one person at each account. They need to reach out to a whole team of decision makers, influencers and gatekeepers. So they must understand the web of decision making at each account and build relationships with all the stakeholders.

How do you find out who is on the buying team? Some data services provide contact information, which you can import into your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Also, your business developers can do some sleuthing by using online platforms such as LinkedIn.

4. Contact the Accounts You’d Love to Land

After they’ve completed the research, your reps can reach out to the buying teams at your ideal prospective accounts. They should do so in a way that shows they understand the issues a business faces and are aware of what’s driving the industry. Also, they cannot be overly focused on the sale. Instead, they must provide valuable insights that can make business people more successful.

Reps can communicate initially via the phone, social media or personal emails. What works for the first contact depends on the individual they’re trying to reach. It’s likely that using two or three methods of outreach will be more successful than just one. For instance, pick up the phone, leave a voicemail and follow up with an email. If that doesn’t work, try to connect via social media.

That said, in the end, because you can develop the deepest relationship through one-on-one conversation, you want to talk with people on the phone. Also, it allows you to gather human intelligence, gaining a better understanding of the problems your prospect faces and the team involved in solving them.

Once you develop a good relationship with the players of one buying team, you can reach beyond them to other divisions and departments in the same organization. Each conversation is a stepping stone to the next one.

Companies that are shifting to account-based marketing are outperforming their peers and that’s why this strategy is becoming so popular. Making this change, however, requires you to redefine the role of your business developers. They will spend less time sifting through leads to find the golden nuggets and more time in research to find the gold. Once they know where it is, they should use the phone, email and social media to contact key account buying teams. Their goal is to speak with as many key stakeholders as possible and build relationships.

Account based marketing puts faces on a previously faceless crowd. Click here to download the Account-Based Markting Guide for Modern Marketers to learn more ways to improve your marketing game.

ABM for Modern Marketers

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