What is Account Based Marketing?
Account Based Marketing as the term may infer, is the marketing efforts channelized towards key customer accounts, highly customized to the situation of that particular account. In organizations where business depends on a few big client accounts, it could be a ‘make or break’ for the organizational sustainability.
Why is it required?
Obviously, if your business depends on a few key strategic accounts, it’s imperative to dig deeper into these cash cows. One needs ABM to decide sales targets of key account managers, targets of territories and yearly sales budget forecasts for the organization. Account Based Marketing also systemizes the information available about an account which is critical, in case account manager decides to call it quits. It also provides a platform to initiate an agenda driven communication thus improving the hit rates of sales meetings.
How an effective Account Based Marketing program looks like?
Before making an effective Account Based Marketing plan, it’s important to categorize your accounts systematically. You can have the biggest accounts in the most ‘detailed research required’ category and others in further categories of reducing research effort and attention required. It can be decided to keep the biggest ones in-house and outsource the research for the smaller ones. This arrangement optimizes the information risks and costs. A note also needs to be made about accounts that are small today but have huge future potential.
Also not all accounts will have account managers. Bigger ones or the ones having huge future potential will have account managers. All other accounts can be clubbed under the responsibility of other sales managers or inside sales teams.
Following are the characteristics of a great Account Based Marketing account profile:
1. In depth desk research: A desk based research needs to be done to get hold of almost everything that is happening in the account. Following are an important part of the research
a. Management changes
b. Key developments
c. Any M&A rumor or plans
d. Last years’ revenue and profitability; future plans
e. SWOT and how it relates to your products/ services
f. Industry trends and how it relates to your products/ services
g. Cost structures and market overview
h. Stock performance and analyst views
2. Interviews with the account managers: Account managers may be required to give inputs on the sales that came from the account last year, expected sales next year and the rationale behind it. They would also need to profile all the decision makers, influencers and consumers of your products and services
3. Wallet share: If your business is dependent on a few key accounts, it may be quite possible that there are very few service providers in your industry and chances are good that you know about their presence in the key accounts. In that case estimating your wallet share in the key account is a worthwhile exercise. It gives a clearer picture about the upside sales potential in the account. That can in turn help plan sales targets
4. Decision maker matrix: This matrix charts extent of influence of a stakeholder on one axis and proximity of that stakeholder to your company on the other. This gives a clear idea as how to go about managing stakeholders, the people you need to be close to and people who are already your brand ambassadors. Managing different stakeholders differently would be the key to success here.
5. Strategic plans: Strategic plans need to be checked to ascertain demand for your products and services. In case a specific strategic initiative leads to demand for your products and services, pre-wiring can start early. It improves the chances of winning the business disproportionately.
6. Stakeholder profiling: Once important stakeholders are identified, its useful to comb through their social media, articles and other information. All this can be used as conversation starters improving the likeability of the account manager to the stakeholder. In the end, people buy from the people they like. Isn’t it? You can also find about the institutions they went to, and may be introduce/refer some people from your company who went to those institutes in front of the stakeholder. It provides an impactful emotional connect.
7. Spend: It’s important to ascertain the spend of key accounts on your category of products and services. For industries like Telecom, lots of information is available in proprietary databases. For others, there may be some triangulation or analytics required. All that is required to have SMART sales targets for both organization and account manager
Once all this information is collected it needs to be aggregated effectively in a way that its available to all account managers and sales directors all the time. So many times, tons and tons of research is just wasted as either the information is not available at the right time or the account managers are too busy in closing sales that they think it’s not important to research before they act.
Author: Prabhash Choudhary, CEO, Magistral Consulting
Magistral (www.magistralconsulting.com) is a leading Consulting, Research and Analytics company helping organizations in instituting impactful Key Account Management programs. Author can be reached at email@example.com for any queries.