Historically, 60% to 70% of financial services business growth has come from existing customer relationships. Insurers, banks, and asset management firms have been able to use commercial, corporate or group account programs that follow the 80/20 rule: relying on 20% of accounts to generate 80% of business.
But nurturing those relationships is far more complicated than it once was.
Account behavior changed dramatically over the past two years, with the realities of remote working forcing professionals to do more of their work online and less of it face-to-face.
These shifts led to a major change in the way B2B buyers operate. The most consequential:
- More people are involved in buying decisions
- Buyers are doing more online research
- Both of these factors can make it hard to leverage your existing personal relationships with customers
Larger Buying Teams
While a relationship manager may have great rapport with one member of a buying team, there are various others they could be missing out on. And all those people are doing self-guided research online.
To improve your odds of retaining customers, upselling, and cross-selling, you need to understand the needs of the entire team. That’s hard to do when they’re anonymous.
More Online Research
Buying groups also spend about 70% of their total buying journey conducting anonymous online research. And they’re not just researching you. In our webinar with Forrester Principal Analyst Bob McKinnon, he shared that more than 90% of financial services buying decisions involve three or more people.
All of this anonymous online buying behavior threatens to undo customer relationships. But there are straightforward ways to gain insights into these behaviors and turn threats into opportunities.
The Importance of ABM
Account-based marketing (ABM) can overcome these challenges when paired with the right technology.
The concept of ABM is simple: Rather than wait for potential customers to come to you, or target individual leads, you target the companies you would like to do business with and focus on building relationships with the key decision makers who will benefit from your product or service.
The cornerstone of good ABM is personalized marketing and sales communications. Nothing is generic. Everything is tailored based on real-time buyer insights.
Some of the first companies to attempt ABM discovered that they couldn’t keep up with the demands of tailoring specific messaging to every potential customer. There were not enough hours, and there wasn’t enough technological connective tissue to keep all of the resulting data organized and actionable.
Effective ABM relies on robust customer data. Capturing that data requires some upfront investment in infrastructure and processes.
You need a solution that will:
- Capture insights into the online activities of your target accounts
- Identify when those accounts are researching solutions that you or your competitors offer
- Help you intuit which members of the buying team are conducting research
- Make it simple for you to acquire contact info and add those individuals to your marketing and outreach campaigns
Your solution should also capture intent data, which are online signals people generate as they do research. Intent data can provide valuable clues about an account’s needs and interests.
- Pages visited on your website
- Key topics and words researched, such as payment solutions, 401k management, FX, D&O insurance, line of credit, or the names of specific competitors
Uncovering this information reveals a lot about where a potential customer is in their journey, and what types of products or services they’re most interested in.
Finally, you need a solution that makes this information instantly accessible, clear, and actionable.
To see how 6sense uses our platform to put this data to use, watch these demos. (Don’t worry! You don’t have to fill out a form unless you want to sign up for a personalized or group demo targeted to your specific needs.)
ABM Unites Marketing and Sales Around Common Data and Goals
Intent data that tells you exactly what your customer is interested in today allows you to target your audience better, personalize their experience, and influence their customer journey.
The same intent data that can power your marketing is a gold mine for your relationship managers. Knowing which buying team members are engaged and what they have researched allows relationship managers to send better outreach emails and have more relevant conversations.
It also helps them spot individuals on the buying team who may not have been on their sales radar. Are they contributing to the decision making around an existing product (upsells or renewals)? Or are they exploring a different solution that you could provide (cross-sell opportunity)?
Together, sales and marketing can put together a strategy that targets the accounts most likely to buy with the most relevant messaging at the right time. For instance, if you know a target account is looking at a specific competitor, marketing can run ads that focus on your organization’s differentiators, and sales can discuss differentiators in their personal outreach.
Measuring Real Impact
Ultimately, ABM gives you a broader and fuller picture of your target accounts, whereas lead-centric approaches can focus too tightly on a single individual. Leads may be a champion within the buying group, but focusing on just that person can cause you to lose sight of the company’s larger needs and goals.
By abandoning marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and using an ABM program, you’re able to better address buyers’ needs, gain control over buyer conversations, and build more demand by reaching customers as soon as they begin their initial online research stages.
Crawl, Walk, Run
If it sounds like a lot to bite off, we understand. In fact, we have a book about it. For traditional marketers, effective ABM requires new processes, new systems, and a new way of thinking.
The good news is that there are some easy wins early in the process that should jump start your marketing and sales engine. Start by getting insights into the needs your customers and prospects have and use those insights to improve your marketing message and direct communications.