Founder Q&A: Predictive Powered Account Based Marketing


A few weeks ago, 6sense founder and CEO Amanda Kahlow was part of an insightful and thought-provoking conversation on an exclusive Account Based Marketing Twitter chat! In addition to Amanda, the panel featured Engagio CEO Jon Miller, Triblio CMO Jason Jue and Heinz Marketing president Matt Heinz. These B2B marketing experts shared their insights and actionable strategies for understanding, implementing and measuring ABM. Read on to get the full recap of Amanda’s take on powering ABM with predictive.

Q1: When should a company consider an ABM strategy?

Day 1. When does sales not sell to accounts? Marketing needs to align. You want to know who has a pain now that you can solve. You want to find buyers that are in an active buying cycle. Let the data tell you who to target, not your intuition.

Q2: How does ABM help align sales and marketing teams?

ABM aligns sales and marketing through omni-channel prospecting, from marketing messaging to sales outbound prospecting. Marketing should be focused on handing off accounts ready to buy, NOT just a lead or person.

The current concept of B2B leads doesn’t align to how B2B organizations buy – they buy in committees. To make matters even more difficult, 99% of the buyer’s activity is done anonymously. To find ALL of the buyers in a committee per account, marketing and sales must be able to track both known and unknown activity.

Q3: What are the common hurdles companies face when rolling out ABM?

Most companies have a ton of the data they need already. They just need to connect it – media impressions to web visits to MAP engagements to CRM, then ideally activity across the B2B buying centers on the web.

The main component missing for a majority of companies is the ‘when’ data. Everyone and anyone can find accounts that ‘look like’ the right targets (there are tons of data companies masking as predictive companies), but the holy grail of sales and marketing is to answer the “timing” question, meaning when an account is “in market” or ready to buy and where they are in the buyer’s journey.

To be effective, sales and marketing must target accounts when they are in an active buying cycle. With this in mind, accounts can’t be a static list, they must be dynamically updated depending on who is demonstrating a need at the right time. Companies must also remember that while ABM should start at the account level, sales and marketing must target by role to ensure they’re reaching the key decision makers.

Q4: What are the best ways to measure ABM success and what KPIs should marketers be focused on?

Marketers must measure both quality and quantity when deploying ABM. At the end of the day, it’s all about growing and contributing to pipeline. Anyone can increase conversions by lowering the number of leads they pass to sales – maintaining the quality of leads is critical.

When done right, ABM can increase the top line (pipeline growth, conversion rates from marketing to sales), help the bottom line (decrease spend by spending on the right people who are in active buying cycles) and enhance productivity (fewer sales touches to convert, bypass telequalification). ABM also has the power to increase visibility across channels from marketing to sales, allowing marketing to rightfully take credit for the opps they touch, not just the ones that raise their hand.

Q5: What are some of the common pitfalls you’ve seen when implementing ABM and how can smart marketers avoid these?

Ask your media execution vendors:  Are you taking advantage of cheap, excess inventory or premium spots?  Can you target individuals by demographics within the companies you are going after? Most importantly, do you know what accounts have pain and a need NOW? Many data companies are masking as predictive but are unable to find accounts, or more specifically – accounts with a need now. Timing is everything in sales and marketing.

Q6: We hear talk about finding customers that are “in market.” Explain the critical role predictive analytics plays in ABM and the kind of results your clients seeing.

It is really simple. Do you want to know if an account matches the profile of other customers you sold to? Meaning they LOOK like they have a slightly higher propensity to buy. Or, do you want to know they are actively researching the products you sell? That they are in a buying cycle, but aren’t leaning in to you? That they are either out doing research with the industry experts, reading your content on your site anonymously, or searching for your competitors’ products?

For example, Xactly is a customer. Our predictions showed that a very large beer distribution company was ‘in-market’ for sales compensation software, but they did not meet the profile of a company Xactly had ever sold to in the past. Xactly had never sold into the food and beverage industry. It turns out that they were looking at a competitor and because of the power of predictive intelligence, Xactly turned them into a $1.7M customer. It was the third largest deal of the company’s history.

Profile scoring is helpful to find who looks like who you sold to in the past, but what about your future? It won’t help you if you’re looking to grow into new markets, new verticals or if you’re selling new products you’ve never sold before. But predictive intelligence uncovers who is in an active buying cycle now and is demonstrating a need for your product. Timing is NOW for that account.

If you’re interested in learning how predictive ABM can remake the way your marketing and sales teams drive growth for your business, check out the 5 predictive ABM use cases here.

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