ABM vendors may be telling you that their software is essential to get started. But here’s an idea: Start with the tools you’ve got, pick some spot solutions as your program matures, and go full-funnel when your MarTech can’t keep up.
Try this experiment at home (since that’s likely where you are this spring).
- Type “Account based marketing” into Google’s search field.
- Count all the ads. How many are from ABM software vendors?
- How many Complete, Ultimate and Definitive guides are offered? Also produced by the tech vendors?
- How many blogs? Were they written by SMEs working for the tech vendors?
- Look at the second and third search pages (novel idea, right?). More ads?
All this might give you the idea that ABM is all about the software. Even the industry associations, ISTMA and TOPO, are featuring proprietary pay-to-play research, much of which describes how technology can improve your ABM program. So it might even seem like the right software would be an ABM silver bullet.
There are hundreds of SaaS solutions that can help your company improve its account data, identify unknown prospects, predict intent to buy, automate targeted advertising, visualize attribution reports and even personalize content delivery. Depending on which site you reference, there are >200 vendors who would love to tell you about their ABM solutions. Many of these claim to be “full funnel” providers (one-stop shops).
So the question becomes: How does a company pick?
Or maybe the question is: Do you really need to pick?
The answer is, of course: It depends. Maybe you can start with the tools you’ve got, pick some spot solutions as your program matures, and go full-funnel when your MarTech can’t keep up.
You Should Start Low-Tech if you have not yet met ABM Readiness Requirements:
Even if your company has these Requirements nailed, you may be able to ramp up an ABM program using just your core MarTech stack. The major Marketing Automation Platforms, combined with Salesforce, provide 80% or more of the functionality you’ll need.
You Should Pick Spot Solution Software if that other 20% is conspicuously absent. For example:
- Your customer data is so fragmented or incomplete that you can’t identify a robust Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or accounts like it.
- Automated advertising and content syndication have proved to be a strong source of prospects from your target companies.
- Many of your potential targets are unknown or coming through social media channels – and you need to identify them and understand their intent.
You may be ready for a Full-Funnel ABM Solution if your existing MarTech is stretched to the limit in these key areas:
- Account and Contact Selection
- Account Insights / Intent Tracking
- Content Management / Personalization
- Programmatic Advertising
- Sales/Marketing Engagement Orchestration
- Performance / Attribution Assessment
Picking a Full-Funnel solution won’t be easy. Every vendor will claim to be complete – or to have the exact functionality your company needs. Start with the big players and put them through their paces. Make sure stakeholders from Marketing, Sales Development and Field Sales get to participate in the selection process and buy into the decision. Otherwise you’ll have an expensive subscription without adoption.
BUT, as we discussed at the beginning of this blog, ABM is not just about software. In fact, there are several steps you company should take before deciding to purchase technology. Don’t miss TPG’s last blog on 3 Powerful (Yet Simple) Secrets Enterprises Can Unlock for Their Account-Based Marketing Strategy.
If you didn’t check all the prerequisites – or want to start without investment – consider a phased approach to ABM.
A good phase one is to build your ICPs, BCPs and CXPs (read our blog for help with the acronyms). In other words, identify your ideal customer profile and accounts like it, understand the buying center personas within those ICPs, and create orchestrated journeys for each. This will maximize the customer experience for key clients while you work on more advanced ABM tactics and techniques.
To optimize your approach and returns, consider working with a strategic consulting team like The Pedowitz Group to design and implement a phased roadmap. Like most things in life, ABM isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition. Your path to increased key-account revenue will be different than the next enterprise. Just Remember: There is no ABM software silver bullet. Success comes from a strategic roadmap and disciplined rollout.
Diagnosing ABM readiness from the inside isn’t easy. The Pedowitz Group specializes in guiding enterprises through ABM readiness and implementation exercises. No matter where you’re starting, from preparing to planning to piloting, TPG’s ABM consulting solutions can move your program forward.