We’ve discussed how important ABM (account based marketing) can be for early start-ups. Yet many companies fail at their ABM efforts. This is usually because they are impatient or are not prepared. Impatient because they give up early or want to immediately go into sales mode when the prospect is not ready to buy. Not prepared because the company does not have the necessary nurturing materials and content ready with which to follow up when a prospect is ready to listen.
When you show up in someone’s inbox, on someone’s phone or LinkedIn account, you are an unexpected guest. To maximize your chances of being “accepted” you must be extremely targeted in your outreach and make your message as personal as possible. Developing your company's personas is key to this.
Not only do you need to consider all three types of personas as they play their roles during the B2B buyer’s journey, but ABM also requires patience because many B2B Solutions are complex to understand.
Your audience will not have budgeted for your solution if your campaign is making them aware of the need for the first time. So, you must be patient as your buyer persona tries to get support for the investment, and you need to help them make the business case.
Many of the actors in the buyer’s journey will be able to say “no”, and only a few can say “yes.” ABM lets you nurture the key sponsors in the journey with content that they can use to convince others.
Some companies just do not really understand their ICP. They have not done the work to tightly define their ideal targets. Sometimes, they have defined the ICP but do not know where their personas are. Perhaps mailing lists are not properly scrubbed, or the target companies are well defined—but do not have the appropriate personas within them.
A common problem is that many SaaS companies are not ready to fully commit to their ICPs. Companies may be tempted to go after low-hanging fruit—prospects that come over the transom, via the website or through inbound efforts. While they may be ready to buy, these leads may not be the best fit for your solution or provide the highest lifetime value. Or worse still, marketing efforts are taken like Hail Mary passes, thrown out into the marketplace with little strategic thought in the hope that they will somehow catch on.
Another reason ABM can fail is that the solution you are trying to sell, and the positioning and messaging, are all too complex to understand. If companies cannot articulate their benefits and value propositions, outbound efforts may work as desired, but in-person conversations fail to demonstrate how, what, and why the prospects would gain anything from the proposed solution. In these cases, companies can learn from their failures and fine-tune their messaging and value props to better convey how prospects can benefit.
Finally, remember that the B2B buyer’s journey has many decision makers. So, you need to have a plan to either reach, or influence, all of them, including the friends, experts, peers, and even other salespeople that B2B buyers lean on for their decisions.