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In this blog post, Tom Melhuish, HubSpot Specialist at Huble Digital, explains everything you need to know about ABM, including the benefits, how to execute an ABM strategy and how HubSpot can help you reach your ABM goals. 

In marketing, a question often asked but never really answered is:

“What is ABM?” 

Well, ABM is account-based marketing – a strategy where you target multiple stakeholders within a single business. It’s a growth-focused approach that looks to create a personal and customised buying experience for hand-picked, high-value accounts. 

In the past, HubSpot lacked the tools to support account-based marketing, but recently things have changed. As of 2020, it now has the tools you need to use account-based marketing to its full potential.

In this article, we will look at ABM in more detail, including what it is, who should use it and the benefits it will provide your business. 

If you would prefer to watch a webinar on ABM, check out the below webinar we ran with Kyle Jepson, Inbound Sales Professor at HubSpot.

Recording

 

What companies would benefit from ABM? 

The main companies that would benefit from ABM are those which sell high-value B2B products or services to a specific target audience.

The people these companies sell to will often be part of businesses where multiple “stakeholders” are involved in the purchase process. As a result, the company selling the high-value product/service needs to be able to “comfortably” market their product/service to each stakeholder based on that stakeholder’s needs/wants for their department.

This involves a highly personalised approach dedicated to each stakeholder, which ABM compliments well.

 

What are the benefits of using ABM? 

An improved customer acquisition process

ABM allows you to engage individual customers and leads in a personalised manner, nurturing the leads you deem valuable while avoiding those that hinder your sales process. This saves your sales team time and effort while improving the quality of the leads they have to work with. 

A streamlined sales process

In any situation with multiple stakeholders, decisions can usually take a long time. Fortunately, ABM streamlines this process as you’re nurturing and educating every decision-maker. And, as each decision-maker is aware of the products and the benefits it provides, this makes the process much faster and smoother, removing any friction that might have existed otherwise.  makes the process faster and smoother as there’s much less friction (each decision-maker is aware of the product and the benefits it has for them and their department. 

The ability to measure your return on investment 

As HubSpot allows you to measure ABM efforts through customisable dashboards and reports, you can see and measure your ROI very clearly. 

ABM usually provides a high ROI due to it being low risk and aligned with sales and marketing strategies, ensuring everything goes ahead smoothly. 

It allows you to align sales and marketing 

ABM enables sales and marketing to collaborate and nurture individual stakeholders through the sales process, all while identifying and solving the queries they may have. 

It’s an effective way to ensure your sales and marketing team are working efficiently and saves you a lot of time and, therefore, money.  

How else does ABM help?

  • Keeps marketing and sales aligned. 

  • Maximises your business’s relevance among high-value accounts.

  • Helps you to close bigger deals (increases sales velocity on high-value deals).

  • Delivers unique customer experiences through personalised messaging.

Executing your ABM strategy (and how HubSpot facilitates it) 

Start with alignment 

Ensure all internal stakeholders are on board with the ABM strategy. This will help you create a consistent experience throughout as everyone is working with the same goals in mind.

Also, get everyone to agree on and understand the following: 

  • ABM budget and resources

  • ABM goals and KPIs

  • The company’s key differentiators for each target account

Build your team

For your ABM strategy to be successful, you will need a team of experts to support it. You need at least one marketer and salesperson: the marketers will create and publish intriguing, relevant content to attract prospects, while the salespeople will manage and close the business deals that arise as a result. 

Remember, start small and grow your team as requirements change. Also, try to identify any other key team members that will add value to the accounts you’re working on. 

Identify your target accounts 

Next, pick your target accounts and key stakeholders. The accounts you focus on will be high value, i.e. those that can deliver the greatest possible returns. Choose key stakeholders based on what they can do on their end to bring your deal to fruition. Lastly, you’ll need an ABM strategy that enables you to sell to these accounts in an efficient and prospect-orientated way. 

To prepare, there are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourselves:  

  • Is there a particular industry or geographical location you want to target?

  • Are there noteworthy companies that are trafficking your website and engaging with your content a lot?

  • Are there brands that would give you more credibility if you worked with them?

  • Are you launching a new product that will benefit a particular type of company?

  • In your sales cycle, what were your ten biggest deals?

  • Are there big, promising deals that are taking too long to close? 

All these questions will give you a much clearer idea of which accounts and stakeholders you will be best suited to target. 

 

How can HubSpot help? 

HubSpot can help facilitate the process by providing intelligence and automation to manage and prioritise your target accounts and buyers. Using HubSpot, you can flag companies as “target accounts” and use segmentation to sort them into “tiers”. 

You can also use HubSpot's AI-powered account recommendations (using a custom score category on companies) to classify and prioritise which target accounts to focus on. This will also show the engagement on each of the accounts and contacts can be classified by their “buying role”. 

Finally, you can use workflows to qualify incoming leads based on custom criteria (set by you) to understand where they fit in the ABM strategy. This enables you to create multiple branches to sort companies into different tiers so you can tailor your marketing communication and sales outreach for each one.

Create an account plan 

ABM is all about teamwork, so when developing your account plan, get sales and marketing together and ask the following questions: 

  • Who will you need to know at each company?

  • What content will you need to attract and engage account buying committee members?

  • Which channels will you use to ensure your content reaches the right people at your target companies?

  • How will you (as marketers and sales reps) provide the right type of support throughout each stage?

Remember, you can store your account plans as a pinned note in the HubSpot CRM. This ensures easy access for both marketing and sales.

Using HubSpot to get a clear overview

With HubSpot, both sales and marketing can see what works and what doesn’t using the target accounts homepage in HubSpot. It also allows sales to tag key accounts — notifying your marketing team in the process — so everyone is up to date and working together, leading to a smoother sales cycle.

Another cool feature is the ability to mark key information and see every contact and their buying roles, helping you to determine where you should invest time and effort for each account. Salespeople can also see what’s happening with the account and who they should be in contact with.  

Attracting contacts 

For an ABM strategy to be successful, you must attract contacts from your high-priority accounts. You can do this (and in a GDPR-compliant way) by using the following tactics: 

  • Engage accounts on social media 

  • Produce a podcast or video series and invite a leader from the account to be a special guest

  • Send direct messages via social media and email

  • Communicate through LinkedIn InMail outreach 

  • Build custom landing pages or microsites tailored to the needs, questions and concerns of key stakeholders at that particular account

  • Distribute content such as blog articles across channels that are relevant to each account 

  • Create ad campaigns and social ads to target different factors such as location, skill and job title

  • Ask your current contacts, accounts, and customers for referrals 

  • Invite contacts to (digital) events and ask attendees to invite their colleagues

Remember, for these tactics to be successful you need to ensure that you personalise the messaging for each stakeholder. This helps remove any unwanted audiences so you can focus solely on those you want to attract. 

What can HubSpot do to help?

There are a few tools in HubSpot that can help you to attract the right audiences; one is the HubSpot lists tool. For example, you could use it to filter your contacts based on job role (i.e. decision-maker) and then tailor your content to meet their needs.

These lists can also be used to:

  1. create and serve personalised ads or smart content based on buying role, 

  2. share different content for different roles 

  3. trigger email and automated nurturing campaigns to keep your target audience nurtured and aware

The ads tool has also been augmented to include ABM features that help marketers to personalise messages to attract buyers from target companies.

Forging relationships

It’s integral to form strong relationships with the key stakeholders once they come aboard as this will determine whether or not you close the deal.

A few thoughts on how to start the process of forging a strong relationship: 

  • Provide education on the value of your business 

  • Create and share personalised content

  • Communicate one-on-one when possible 

  • Stick to organised, well-timed and well-structured meetings

  • Use email sequences to enhance all communication

How does HubSpot help with forging strong relationships?

On your target accounts homepage, you can click into each account to access the account overview dashboard. This can be used by sales teams to view all company records and power outreach to ensure maximum engagement. From here you’ll be able to see all activities, contacts, deals and site visits, giving you insight into overall performance.

Next, you have the sales navigator tool which allows you to build more complex sequences to improve outreach and engagement. 

Finally, you have HubSpot’s playbook functionality which allows you to outline best practice methodologies and the process for engaging with target accounts. 

Measurement and analysis

Make sure you measure your ABM strategy and analyse the results to make improvements as you grow. 

A few KPIs to bear in mind when measuring your campaign are: 

  • Deals created

  • New accounts

  • Account net new contacts added 

  • Account engagement

  • Deal-to-close time

  • Net-new revenue

  • The percent of deals closed

  • Number of Sales Hub demos

  • Number of contacts enrolled on sequence

By constantly measuring and analysing your ABM strategy, you will be able to identify areas for improvement and refine your approach so it’s more effective. You can then apply your learnings to your other activities. 

How HubSpot helps you analyse: 

Utilising HubSpot’s reporting tools, you have several options to track and analyse results in real time. Here are a couple that will help you measure the effectiveness of your ABM strategy:

  • ABM dashboard

  • Target accounts dashboard library

  • Target accounts reports library

Use these tools in conjunction to not only keep an eye on progress but also to make tweaks where necessary to improve the performance of your campaigns. Done properly, these tools will help you to create an efficient and effective ABM strategy.

 

It takes time to master but will deliver incredible results 

ABM marketing is a personalised, creative and efficient strategy that targets high-value companies and the key stakeholders within to influence the purchase decision process.  

It’s a strategy that will take time to master, but once implemented it will allow you to create a smooth, high-performance sales cycle (and you’ll have plenty of HubSpot tools to assist you on the way). 

If you’re looking to improve your marketing strategy by using this efficient, personalised and high-performance strategy, please reach out to us by clicking the button below, we’d be more than happy to answer any questions. 

Contact us!

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