Are your sales and marketing efforts truly genuine?
ABM is all about focusing on a select set of accounts and creating custom campaigns on a one-to-one basis. Personalization aims to do that, and technology can help make that process easier at scale. But personalization is an inherently human practice. You need to keep it real, and, as Sangram Vajre, co-founder, Terminus, said during opening remarks at #FlipMyFunnel this week, you need to “be authentic.”
What does authenticity look like in ABM, and how can marketing and sales come together to get there?
Engagement is the new measurement
When allocating your efforts, start slow. Evaluate where ABM would be the most impactful and integrate it into your marketing mix. Sometimes, going all in may not be the best route in the beginning. And, depending on your industry and customer base, there may still be benefits in having traditional wide-reaching lead gen and sales efforts.
“You don’t have to go full-fledged on one or the other,” Vajre said. “Go where your customers demand you to be.”
Data can help you decide. When evaluating your accounts, focus on propensity and engagement, with more effort dedicated to prospects that show clear intent to purchase. Then, create experiences that accommodate the specific needs of those highly-desired accounts, whether it’s through specific creatives, channel delivery, or cadence of interaction.
Email and direct mail — old mediums with new meaning
Direct mail may be a dated medium, but it’s also one of the most human. Handwritten letters may have a place in ABM campaigns, because they signal extra effort, and are intrinsically created with a one-to-one mindset. You took the time to craft a message and put in it writing yourself. The lack of technology involved makes the interaction visceral, and that can speak volumes when it comes to customer care.
“That will matter because you put some heart into it,” Vajre said.
But what about email? The solution here may rest in another emerging engagement channel — video. Embedding personalized video in one-to-one email communications sends the same message as a handwritten note — you cared enough to take time out of your day to build this experience specifically for the customer. It can also be a way to switch up your campaign mix by providing content that goes beyond the canned sales pitch.
What your team is really saying at live events
Events can be a big deal for vendors. Substantial investment goes into the entire process — from the logistics, to the pre-event marketing, and sales efforts to secure meetings — all while trying to keep your budget in line.
Typically, sales teams are the ones headed to man the event booth. But Vajre suggested that it may be worth sending other members of your organization who can have more authentic conversations about the product, before, or after, the demo.
“If you only send your sales team, you’re sending a message that all you care about is sales,” Vajre said. “It’s not just about customers, it’s about building a community … without community, all you’re doing is building a commodity.”
Vajre suggested sending representatives from the product or customer success teams along with sales. Customer success representatives work the closest with current clients and can give prospects a taste of how they’d be treated if they signed on with your team.
Get down to the details
Personalization is a hot topic right now. Companies are trying to lock down best practices. But Peter Weinberg, global brand strategy lead, LinkedIn, said marketers are still not quite there when providing truly customized experiences.
“Customer-centric marketing is radically individualistic,” Weinberg said. “That means every detail is driven by data.”
Weinberg noted Netflix as a brand that’s doing data-driven personalization right. When you enter the Netflix platform, all content recommendations are tailored based on individual preferences and viewing history. The same show or film may also be marketed differently to different customers, by tweaking images and placement in context to their taste.
“Every aspect of the experience, down to the thumbnail image, is tailored,” Weinberg said.
No two Netflix accounts look the same, Weinberg said, because every Netflix experience is built specifically for each customer.
Targeting beyond the C-suite
Targeting has traditionally focused on the big kahunas: the CEO, CMO, CIO, CFO — any of the major players who have the most control over where the money’s going.
But there may be merit in opening the playing field to include messaging geared toward more junior members of the team.
“These people may not sign the check, but they’re in the meetings and giving recommendations,” Weinberg said.
Lower-level managers and junior employees may also be the ones who end up actively using your product or solution every day. Winning their influence could give you a competitive advantage, because they’ll be advocating for you, too. Weinberg pointed out the advantages of nurturing relationships with managers early. If you have a long sales cycle, junior employees may very well get promoted in the interim. If you’ve already established a relationship, you won’t have to go back to square one.
Playing the long game
The customer journey is no longer linear, and your ABM efforts need to account for interactions that continue to nurture clients after the deal is done. Lasting relationships foster customer loyalty, which can strengthen renewals, upsells, and improved customer satisfaction. There could be other perks, too — happy customers can bring in prospects through word-of-mouth, recommendations, and case studies — assets both marketing and sales can use in future campaigns.
“Think about what to do after the deal,” Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO, said. “… At the end of the day, it’s about lifetime value.”
Bringing authenticity to ABM
All of these methods can help bring a personal touch to your ABM practice. But the most important thing is that all the players on your team are on board, and share the same mission.
“You can bring authenticity to your sales and marketing all day long,” Vajre said. “You don’t have to change the world — you just have to change your mindset.”