Maybe your company has run lead generation campaigns in the past, building a large base of content and driving traffic to it with organic SEO tactics, targeted social ads, and other efforts. This lead generation approach has been prevalent for quite some time in B2B marketing, but that focus is shifting.
In fact, Salesforce’s “State of Marketing” report finds that “68% of marketing leaders say their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience.” Customer experiences, at their core, are fluid, empathetic, and personal — they change course based on customers’ shifting attitudes and behaviors. With this in mind, doesn’t it make sense to build more personalized relationships with customers beyond lead generation and acquisition?
Early touchpoints on the way to acquisition, while critical, don’t build well-rounded relationships. That’s why account-based marketing, or ABM, provides a unique opportunity for B2B marketers. Still, there are plenty of roadblocks for those who want to implement ABM, including getting support from executive teams. In the same “State of Marketing” report, one of the top barriers to delivering a purpose-driven customer experience is “insufficient executive buy-in.”
So, how do you get buy-in from the C-suite for your ABM strategy?
First, it’s important to realize that any ABM strategy will only work if you have the support of your peers. That’s right — the first step to getting executive buy-in is getting teams from the marketing and sales departments on board with your agenda. If you don’t have their support and cooperation, ABM simply won’t succeed.
It’s worth noting that high-performing marketers are 3.7 times more likely than underperforming marketers to say they’re extremely or very satisfied with their collaboration with other departments. At the end of the day, marketers and salespeople want the same thing for the company: more revenue. To achieve that, they need to work together.
Let’s take a look at one of the most important things executives care about: the bottom line. They want to see the hard numbers, right? According to a study by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), 87% of B2B marketers agree that ABM delivers higher ROI than other forms of B2B marketing.
While you can use this metric as a jumping off point to start the conversation with executives, it’ll also be your job to prove that the fiscal benefits of ABM translate to your company’s use case. You can imagine the response to these percentages: “Ok,” the CMO says, “so what do these numbers say about our company?” This is where you’ll need to have key metrics pulled, showing, for example, how implementing ABM could have salvaged key accounts that were lost in the past two years. By using your own historical marketing and sales data, you’ll be making the case for a new ABM strategy with your own numbers.
According to ITSMA, 74% of marketers say they’ve seen relationships with customers improve by implementing an ABM strategy. These improved relationships can lead to increased retention — and an increase of 171% in average annual contract value (ACV).
Winning the account is only half the battle. The other half is nurturing the relationship beyond the initial sale, which can lead to greater retention and opportunities for cross-selling or upselling. If marketers don’t build a meaningful connection with existing customers, they run the risk of losing existing business. In fact, “65% of business buyers are likely to switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalize communications to their company.”
When you prove that being more targeted and personalized in your messaging can actually lead to stronger relationships (and higher retention rates), you’re also making the case that revenue won’t end up walking through the door.
Make no mistake that ABM requires big organizational changes, and many of them have to come from the top down. By rallying your sales and marketing teams, leveraging data to show the financial impact of ABM, and explaining the value of personalizing relationships, you’ll be able to make strides in implementing ABM at your company.
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