Matt Heinz is the Founder President of Heinz Marketing, a consultancy that helps B2B organizations build better sales and marketing strategies. One area Heinz understands well is account-based marketing. We invited him to join us on the Content Matters Podcast to share insights on this critical business strategy.
Here are some of the highlights of that conversation. Listen to the entire podcast below or on iTunes or Google Play.
On Defining Account-Based Marketing
Heinz said that account-based marketing (ABM) is a version of overall demand generation and sales pipeline development. He quoted Jon Miller who said that marketing is like "fishing with a net," while ABM is like "fishing with spears." You know exactly who your most important sales targets are and have a more intentional effort to market and sell to them.
He also said ABM is the cohesive integration of applications across the entire organization (not just Sales and Marketing) to increase velocity and conversion of those most important accounts.
Key ABM Challenges
One of the biggest challenges for ABM is data management. It's a more complex buying environment, and it is often difficult to coordinate activities across multiple channels. Heinz said you need to share data across the organization so others can leverage it to have a better next step.
It's also important for Sales and Marketing to work together at every stage, including messaging, approach and offer. This is a new muscle for organizations, Heinz said. One point Heinz made was that it wasn't an all or nothing situation. Data has indicated that attempts at levels of integration between Sales and Marketing have increased sales velocity.
On ABM Technology
A good Marketing and Sales stack can increase the efficiency and scalability of ABM programs, but technology is only the implementer of the strategy, Heinz said. First, you need to know how you plan to coordinate and engage in the first place.
When you are ready, the technology you need depends on the buyer's journey and the channels used on that journey. Integrated CRM and marketing automation systems are important, and there are ABM tools that can help, but also need to integrate.
Heinz said it's very much about message coordination. You can do ABM with a telephone and email, even using a good spreadsheet. What's important is to have the fundamental understanding of the target accounts you want to target, who have the decision-making authority in those accounts, and crisp coordination of what's going to happen at each stage of the journey across Sales and Marketing. This is the basis you need to have to implement any supporting technology successfully.
The Role of Content in ABM
With ABM it's important to have content that is personalized to the account and the role in the account. To do that automatically you need data, and you need AI. But if you don't have AI technology, then you need to give Sales reps and customer success teams the ability to figure out what that the next conversation should look like. And that means you need to provide them with the data and the tools to get the required insights and train them on how to understand the next steps.
ABM is all about content strategy, Heinz said. It is knowing what content you need to put in front of someone to drive engagement and conversation. It doesn't need to be a big whitepaper or polished video. Heinz said it could be a statistic or an infographic. You must understand the customer journey and what a specific person in the account needs at each stage. This makes for more meaningful and impactful content at each stage.
On ABM Metrics
ABM forces Sales and Marketing to have the same goals. Heinz said the ultimate measure of success is velocity and conversion to closed deals and revenues.
But there are early indicators. Heinz said you start by looking at the past 6-12 months of marketing activity (fishing with nets) for your target accounts to get a baseline. Then measure the next four to six months with an ABM program to measure the increase in engagement, and the number of accounts having two-way conversations, as well as the number of people in the account.
Heinz left us with this advice: The first thing you need to do before you start an account-based marketing program is to measure what success looks like - what is the value of ABM? If you can show how much sales would increase with a coordinated Sales and Marketing ABM program, then you can show upper management it's worth the effort.