This article was originally published in Digital Commerce 360 @ digitalcommerce360.com
Business-to-business (B2B) selling is tough. But the truth is that as tough as it is for B2B sellers to sell, it’s grown increasingly more complicated for B2B buyers to buy. Understanding the complexities and challenges your buyers face is a good start to smoothing out the selling process, but it’s just the beginning. How can you go a step beyond understanding toward winning that conversion? One way is through account-based marketing (ABM).
ABM has long been held as the gold-standard sales approach for identifying and engaging large, high-value enterprise accounts through the use of highly targeted, account-level personalization. But a survey of B2B sales and marketing professionals released by ABM technology provider Terminus in February 2020 found that although 67% of the companies surveyed had ABM programs in place, only 17% considered their programs advanced and garnering measurable results.
When executed properly, ABM can help you engage with your target audiences, deliver personalized content, and drive meaningful results. Not old-school ABM, but today’s ABM that’s done intelligently, efficiently, and effectively. Here’s how to get there.
There’s no doubt B2B sellers face a number of challenges in crafting and executing ABM strategies—identifying accounts ready to buy, developing relevant content, and personalizing at scale, to name a few. But nearly one half of B2B marketing executives surveyed in this 2019 DemandGen survey reported that their biggest ABM-related challenge is the alignment of sales and marketing.
That’s one reason why an effective ABM strategy requires expansion beyond just sales and marketing teams. Successful ABM requires a cultural shift—one of accountability, cooperation, and communication across the entire organization—so that all marketing functions collaborate and non-marketing groups participate in the selling effort. Here’s how:
With the CMO leading the charge, your cross-organizational ABM team is off and running. But what happens once you’ve identified 500 or 1,000 or 5,000 targets to track? Delivering an experience that is memorable (and sets your company apart) for that many people requires in-depth, account-based knowledge that isn’t possible to dig through even with a team of qualified individuals working alongside you. So, do you limit your accounts or hire more personnel?
The answer is: neither. What your organization needs is intuitive data processing on a grand scale through artificial intelligence (AI). AI can help set up and execute the ABM engine, cutting down time-consuming manual input and transforming the way marketers and their teams execute marketing programs. Here’s where AI can help:
Business buyers—particularly millennial business buyers, who comprise a growing segment of all B2B buyers—have high expectations for personalization. Is it any wonder why? The business-to-consumer (B2C) platforms we all use every day—like Netflix, Uber, and Amazon—are highly personalized. And it’s this speed, convenience, and relevance that keeps us going back for more.
As in B2C, B2B marketing is all about delivering the right content, via the right channel, at the right time so that your buyers come back for more. Digital channels and personalized content are of supreme importance in the B2B selling process. So, how do you drive digital engagement with personalization in your ABM strategy?
In a world with ever-increasing complexities around business solutions, your job as a marketer is to apply the knowledge and the tools available to make the life of your buyer—and the decisions they need to make—simpler. And success starts with you. Your organization’s ability to work together as a cohesive unit is the way forward in enabling a more intimate relationship with your buyer and will help to simplify the traditionally complex B2B buying process, turning your complex buyer into a confident decision maker.