If you’re a B2B leader looking to impact your revenue, you’ve come across countless articles on why account-based marketing is the right solution for you. ABM is by no means a new strategy. Still, its core tenets vary significantly from traditional lead-gen approaches, which often create a ‘failure-to-launch’ effect when executed by a team that needs to understand the foundation of the strategy.
ABM Skills for B2B Leaders
Research shows that effective ABM programs, where marketing efforts and sales are genuinely aligned, lead to a more productive B2B strategy for growth in today’s market. So, what makes an ABM program effective? Leaders who educate then unite their teams.
The most productive ABM campaigns are championed by leaders whose teams share a common skillset that mirrors this go-to-market strategy – rooted in analytics, understanding, and communication.
Below are the top ten skills necessary to ensure your ABM campaign is successful.
1. Understand Your Product-to-Market Fit
The foundation of any go-to-market strategy is having a thorough and, most importantly, realistic expectation of your product-to-market fit. Analytical leaders who rely on current customer data to drive their approach are likelier to succeed than those who “go with their gut.”
Regardless of who you built your product for or who you wish would use your product, you need to determine your priority accounts by establishing which are the best fit through examining a variety of demographic, firmographic, technographic, and qualitative data. Targeting accounts that have a clear need for your product creates a better environment for selling and gives your team a starting point for a more unified strategy.
2. Be an Industry Expert
Leaders should be experts in their products, but when it comes to an account-based go-to-market strategy, it’s crucial to understand not only those best-fit accounts but the industries you sell into.
According to Forrester, ABM leaders “must have a significant level of knowledge about the particular business challenges and issues facing the industry, not to mention how their company uniquely solves them.”
Taking the time and energy needed to understand the industry is essential to break through the noise of today’s modern B2B buyer journey – creating a tailored experience for your best-fit accounts.
3. Invest Time in Data-Driven Messaging
A customer-centric strategy like ABM is driven by robust and unified messaging that feels personalized and poignant.
The best place to start is to understand why current “champion” customers bought in originally and why they continue to stick with your product. Similarly, why did you lose out on big deals in the past? How can we frame the messaging so that it carries the weight of the B2B discovery process upfront before a prospect even speaks to a sales rep?
Your customer success teams are your best friends when developing your messaging foundation and can help you pull the data necessary to make an impact with your net new target accounts.
4. Align Your Sales Process to the B2B Buyer Journey
We’ve discussed this at length in previous posts on the future of B2B growth, but addressing it here is also essential. There’s no denying that the B2B buyer journey has changed. Has your sales process adjusted to reflect that?
As Gartner puts it, today’s modern B2B buyer is “channel agnostic.” This puts strain on the traditional linear pipeline we’ve used in the past. The same linear pipeline most of our sales processes are built around.
A good ABM leader understands that the process belongs to the buyer. When you adjust your approach to better support buyers along their paths, you’ll reap the rewards of a more supportive and productive sales journey.
5. Be a Funnel Metrics Story-Teller
Numbers alone can’t tell a story, and this is especially true for ABM. As we move away from traditional metrics, ABM leaders must learn how to tell the story of effective pipeline movement.
ABM focuses on generating higher-value deals more consistently by targeting the entire buying committee across sales & marketing efforts. This account-based, omnichannel experience is not based on out-of-the-box KPIs; your reporting should reflect this.
Without this narrative, it’s easy to slip back into metrics that don’t align with the modern buying journey and the goals of your account-based marketing program. Visit these metrics often and include all relevant stakeholders in discussions around the trends and pipeline movement you see on the account level.
6. Understand the Gaps Across Your Team
Silos exist in every business, and yours is no exception. By accepting this and actively mapping out your teams’ expectations, goals, and communication avenues, you can identify potential areas where teams can drop the ball during the buying process.
ABM continues to be a proven go-to-market strategy for growth. As the B2B buying process evolves, removing silos between teams will become even more critical to building a sustainable pipeline.
7. Champion Sales and Marketing Alignment
According to a recent study by Gartner, organizations that prioritize sales and marketing alignment are “2.96x more likely to exceed [their] new customer acquisition targets.”
Sales and marketing alignment drive ABM. But this alignment doesn’t happen in a day or even a month. It takes time, effort, and, most importantly, buy-in from leadership to make it effective.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your alignment, start by breaking down silos that were built by poor communication (e.g., establish a common messaging framework or agree on target accounts) and navigate your team away from thinking that marketing and sales work separately by adjusting expectations and changing the language you use internally. By using “we” instead of addressing the teams individually, you can remove marketing- and sales-driven metrics and jargon from your teams’ vocabulary.
8. Be an Agent of Change
Once you plan to address the gaps in your team, it’s time to create a change management framework from the top down.
Change is challenging, and unlike siloed marketing or sales tactics, ABM requires much change. Team confusion and resentment will surely follow without a clear plan to address the change and everything that comes with it. You need to be willing to be that agent of change and make it a priority to start with some of the small things that all teams can get behind before shaking up the entire system.
Make a roadmap and stick with it; the work you do with your team can sometimes feel tedious, but creating an organization that can grow sustainably is necessary.
9. Foster an Environment of Continuous Learning
Great leaders create a culture built on internal growth that allows their organization to evolve and scale effectively.
Since ABM requires a strong sense of the market, your account journeys and your team’s work effectiveness must be built on a continuous learning cycle. Prioritize learning from activities, then share that knowledge continuously. This open learning environment makes it easier to relate to your prospective targets and unifies teams across business units.
10. Be Willing to Leave the Past Behind
We’ve talked about change and understanding, and there’s a reason. One of the most essential skills to have as an ABM leader is being fearless when striking out on a new path.
Your go-to-market strategy must do more than amplify what you’ve done in the past. It’s time to take your learning and move forward. Use it as a catalyst to drive growth and enable your team to execute competently and efficiently as you strive to meet, then exceed your goals.
Ignite your ABM Strategy
Do you have the skills to drive effective growth through an ABM program? Need help on where to get started?
RenderTribe’s team of ABM experts will help you evaluate your teams’ alignment and discuss how a change management framework can be customized to develop a successful go-to-market strategy. Get started on a successful ABM program today.