The buyer-seller relationship isn’t always the easiest to manage, especially when it comes to the B2B space. Rarely are you working with one individual on a single sale — that usually depends on the product you’re selling.
Let’s say you’re providing a tech-related solution: Your point of contact will start with an information technology specialist such as the CIO. But if that solution is to support marketing efforts, someone from that department will get involved, and you can bet that if that effort helps lead generation, sales will want to have its say, too.
Though it looks like you have three decision makers to contend with, one may be the primary one, while the other two are just influencers. That’s why account-based marketing has become so critical to B2B sales.
ABM helps plan your touch strategy for both customers and prospects. You can map out each party’s place in the buyer journey, providing him the individualized attention expected from vendors.
Provide the Personal Touch
Detailed knowledge of individual accounts comes with tremendous value: It notifies you of what matters to that account, how to reach it, and where it’s positioned in the purchase process. You can plan for each interaction to ensure both you and the customer are using your time effectively.
This isn’t to say that all industries will find value in ABM. Like any marketing effort, some will benefit more than others, but it’s still something to consider.
Take software, for example. Developers realize that clients buy software as a service, and it’s the consumption of that service that defines its value. They want to make sure they’re regularly in front of buyers, ensuring those clients get the most out of the product throughout the year — not just at renewal time. If clients can’t see the value, chances are that the service won’t find its way onto next year’s budget.
Market to Individual Accounts
How you leverage ABM will vary by company, but you can ensure a smooth transition by doing the following:
Get micro with your customers
Knowing your clientele as individuals goes without saying. Otherwise, you never grasp what makes them tick. But in the B2B space, it isn’t just about identifying the hot buttons or preferred method of communication; you also need to recognize the decision makers and influencers in the organization.
That’s where micro-segmentation comes into play. Look for ways to separate prospects into multiple segments. Doing so will allow you to develop and align your messaging to the issues most important to different target audiences, which can be vital.
Automate whenever possible
You don’t want to rely on salespeople to write content or decide what material is most relevant to prospects. They’re busy enough meeting face-to-face with customers — it’s their strong suit, after all.
Instead, automate your marketing efforts. Automation software is available for any B2B company to orchestrate performance-driven campaigns. You can score leads, test content, drive actions, monitor engagement, and gain useful insights about prospects.
Paint a picture with data
If profile information isn’t at the account level, make use of predictive analytics to craft a more intimate picture of your prospects. Predictive analytics use data and trends to help better understand future behavior.
When you know what to expect, you can optimize marketing efforts to offer prospects exactly what they’re looking for in price, message, and experience to encourage certain behaviors. It’s all about personalizing account strategies according to prospect needs.
Personalize every interaction
You may find one customer wants to communicate via email, while another is open to discussions through only LinkedIn. If you don’t make every available channel open to your team, you could be missing opportunities.
To counter that one-size-fits-all mentality, make sure your salespeople are all actively involved on professional networking sites. But don’t stop at LinkedIn; look into the alternatives, such as Opportunity or LocalsNetworking.
B2B sales will almost always come down to the relationship, and no relationship is worth its weight without getting personal. You need to know what’s important to each client, so you can give that client what’s needed at the best time — that’s providing real value.