Good Intentions are Derailing Your Account Based Marketing Efforts. Here’s how to get back on track.

Good Intentions are Derailing Your Account Based Marketing Efforts. Here’s how to get back on track.

Always be up to Date subscribe to updates - February 9, 2018

We’ve spent the better part of a year wrapping our heads around the concept of Account Based Everything (ABE).

While most of what ABE advocates comes intuitively to good marketers and sales reps, we finally have the tools that allow for a massive company orchestration to take place.

When I was first put in charge of Convert’s Account Based Everything drive, I jumped with joy.

The micromanaging tyrant in me saw blissful days building a system that works like a precise machine.

I saw transparency.

I saw personalization.

I foresaw big results.

Account Based Everything – What’s the Big Idea?

Account Based Everything is a way to tie together all your bits of “account based” alphabet soup. There’s ABM (Account Based Marketing), ABA (Account based Advertising), ABS (Account Based Sales) and ABX (Account Based Experience)—but what it call comes down to, is creating a marketing strategy that’s consumer-centric.

Top HQ has a great deep-dive into how all of these elements come together; it’s worth reading in its entirety. But essentially, the key is this: you coordinate your marketing efforts, and sales development, to a target set of accounts. You drive a full-lifecycle revenue chain, that can be tracked and tweaked from marketing to sales to customer success.

The stars align with your sales cycle. Your conversion rates skyrockets—because you market with key prospects in mind. You make more money, more accurate forecasts, and more customers happy. Right?

[Reality Check] No One Prepares You for the Magnitude of an ABE Drive

And the hassles that come with it.

There are four layers or phases to an ABE approach:

  • Choosing and streamlining the tech. So will you opt for a platform that’s tailored to offer account based marketing or will you take on the mammoth job of creating unique Zapier connections between the disparate layers of your stack?
  • Brainstorming the plays. ABE is, in essence, a relay. Each individual needs to do their bit and pass the baton on to the next person. If your plays involve too many roles or too many steps, chaos will always loom on the other side.
  • Engaging. Motivating your team to put in the hours so that they can reap the rewards later down the line. ABE is the opposite of instant gratification. And so many companies learn the hard way that “I want it now” is a tough habit for their talent to break.
  • Measuring & Optimizing. Always be testing! And optimizing. Account Based Everything ultimately boils down to one thing, “Are you closing better deals?” If you undercut your competitors, you are bound to win more sales. But are those sales worth the effort? ABE should ideally take you closer to having multiple evangelists within a company so that consensus swings in your favor and the haggling over prices is not as intense. A concerted Account Based Everything drive helps each stakeholder realize the value of your product or solution. And the “Yes” comes easy.

Or So You Thought….

The success of ABE (purportedly) hinges on two things.

  1. The marketers’ ability to understand the personas of their ideal stakeholders and create content that aggravates their unique pain points, ultimately positioning the product or service as the obvious solution. In one word “Personalization”
  2. The sales reps’ ability to identify these personas in the target businesses, approach them and build a mutually beneficial relationship on the foundation of personalized content. In one word “Reach”

Companies all over the world stick to these tenets.

They worship them.

They try to outdo their competitors by creating hyper-personalized content and tapping more stakeholders than ever before.

It’s the “go far and wide, go super specific” fest.

And Then the Results Roll In

Shocks. Gasps. And accusing rep eyes.

Seriously? We were doing better without ABE, right?

One of the only books in the market (in my humble opinion) addressing the discrepancy between the promised results from ABE and the actual numbers is The Challenger Customer.

It hits you right between the eyes – this revelation. And the truth sinks in:

  • The four-layer ABE approach is missing a step
  • Your own gusto (and good intentions) are shooting the tyres of the ABE bus.

Personalization = Dysfunction

The Challenger Customer agrees that a rep must get in touch with about 5.6 stakeholders within a business account to improve chances of a close.

But that improvement is a paltry 4%.

Hmmm…okay.

But the next bit of data is shocking.

The more you tailor your ABE approach to help stakeholders realize the value of what you’re offering in the context of their own pain points, the more you reduce the possibility of a profitable close.

What? What? What?

Is ABE a hype?

Why you… $@!!$$$……..!!!

(—That was my reaction when I read the book —)

As it turns out….no ABE is not a myth.

We just don’t take our ABE drives to their logical conclusion.

Because come to think of it, personalization is dysfunction.

You’re Making Your Stakeholders Selfish.

The long and short of it.

Any account based endeavor carried out – with good intention – and adhering to the best practice of personalization makes stakeholders selfish.

Reared on a diet of tailored content that puts them up front and center, they think of a product or service only in terms of personal gain.

And in a multi-national business, frequently comprised of distributed members from all over the world, this makes for a nasty cauldron of disagreements.

When the time for the critical consensus comes, people can’t see what the solution they are taking a vote on means for the entire company.

They’re cocooned in their own world, dancing to the tune of their priorities. A tune lovingly composed by us.

In the end, they can, at the very best, agree to disagree and base their decision on the great unifier – price.

Or they can indulge in a screaming match and postpone the decision to buy.

In both cases, sellers suffer.

Deals are less profitable.

Numbers don’t get hit because of stakeholder stalemate.

There is a Solution Though

You don’t need to scrape your ABE drive.

What you should do instead is help stakeholders forge strong bonds not only with your brand but also with others on their own teams.

Here are 4 steps Convert is considering to get around the problem of dysfunction.

(i) Learn about personas in terms of their individual gains & pains
(ii) Go a step further and correlate these findings with the vision of the company in question. What can you do to move each individual stakeholder towards believing in a common goal that your solution achieves?
(iii) Bring prospects in an account closer to your brand with personalized content. This will position you as an expert.
(iv) Unite these stakeholders by helping them “see” – in great detail – the bright future of the company with your offering as the initiator of the positive change. This elevates you from being an expert to being a leader.

Is this tweak guaranteed to work?

Heck no! But it does seem logical.

Also, Convert’s rather awesome at testing.

We’re going to test, optimize, iterate our way to ABE success.


Originally published February 09, 2018 - Updated February 14, 2018

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Trina Moitra

Written by Trina Moitra

Trina M is the head of marketing at Convert. She loves setting the tone of the brand, cementing the market vision for the company and in her spare time can be seen taking personality quizzes to understand herself better.
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