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What is account-based marketing (ABM)?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing and sales strategy that focuses on selling to a defined list of accounts. A company creates this list of accounts using its ideal customer profile (ICP). 

An ABM strategy helps marketing and sales teams align on common goals, targeting, nurturing, and communication with a defined list of accounts.

Account-based marketing for marketing teams

From a marketing perspective, an ABM strategy involves reducing advertising and communication with the broader market.

Instead of taking a broader approach, marketing teams focus their efforts on communicating to a smaller, defined list of accounts. This approach results in more targeted, personalized advertising and messaging.

Account-based marketing for sales teams

From a sales perspective, an ABM strategy includes restricting communication only to prospects defined on an ABM account list. 

In this case, sales teams should not pursue any opportunity available. Instead, they would benefit most from choosing opportunities that fit their company’s goals and objectives.

Steps to establish an account-based marketing strategy

Companies execute account-based marketing strategies in different ways, and strategies differ due to a company’s resources and goals. 

However, companies can take similar steps to execute an account-based marketing strategy regardless of how they choose to proceed. These steps include: 

Step 1: Create an ideal client profile (ICP)

Sales and marketing teams define their company’s ideal client in order to find a list of companies that fit a similar description. 

Sales and marketing teams should use firmographic data (such as company size, revenue, number of employees, etc.) and business intelligence (which includes past results and company goals) as factors in the definition of their ideal client profile. 

Once a company creates an ideal client profile, marketing and sales teams can compile a list of accounts to target as part of their ABM strategy.

Step 2: Define a process for executing an ABM strategy

Sales and marketing teams should define a process for identifying, qualifying, nurturing, and connecting with leads that fit their defined account list. 

For example, sales and marketing teams should define a repeatable process for adjusting their ICP and refreshing their account list. Sales and marketing teams should also define a process for when the marketing team passes leads to the sales team.

Step 3: Craft a personalized pitch & deliver messaging

Sales and marketing teams should create personalized messaging and decide the most effective channels to communicate their personalized messaging. Sales and marketing teams should analyze firmographic data and past efforts to decide the best way to connect and demonstrate value to their prospects. 

Companies connect with prospects in different ways depending on many factors, including company size, industry, etc. Sales and marketing teams should choose a mix of marketing automation tools and sales prospecting tools that will assist teams in execution and delivery.

Step 4: Execute, measure results, & optimize

Once sales and marketing teams determine a strategy, a plan to connect and demonstrate value, and marketing and sales tools, they can execute their ABM strategy. 

Sales and marketing teams should track and measure the results of their ABM strategy to gather insights and optimize performance. 

For example, a company’s ideal client profile might need adjustment if products and/or services change or if sales and marketing teams find better results with companies in a different industry.

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