I got a chance to catch up with Kathy Macchi, a long time survivor of the technology industry who brings over 25 years of sales, marketing, and technology experience to her role of Vice President of Consulting at Inverta. As an ITSMA Partner, Kathy has been working with companies on strategic account marketing for more than 10 years.
[Kathy] I have been working in it since 2007. Ten years.
[Kathy] Because of how it’s being positioned in the marketplace. When it first started, it probably began about five years before I got involved with it, it was large service providers with high deal sizes, and it was the idea of, “how do you take your best accounts and really get to know them better?” Peppers and Rodgers published a book in 1996 called The One to One Future, and that’s essentially what ABM was back then. It was one-to-one marketing. If I look at some large technology companies, 85% of their revenue comes from 15% of their customers. It was time they stepped back and said, “why are we marketing to them like we don’t know what they have?” It seems like common sense, but if you rely on a small subset of companies to make your number – it’s worth doing the deep research so you can treat them like you know them. Especially if they are buying millions of dollars of your product.
[Kathy] Couple things. So some organizations will take a bunch of accounts, and just then just batch and blast to those accounts. The marketing isn’t any different from broad outbound, and they sit back and ask, “how is this different from what I’ve been doing?” and the answer is: it isn’t.
Another pitfall is when marketing thinks they can do it on their own. Marketing will say, “I’m just going to do this, but then I’m still going to toss the leads over to sales.” ABM is not about alignment with sales, it’s about collaboration with sales.
Finally, mismanaged target account selection can be a big pitfall. Your target account list should not be comprised only of accounts that you haven’t been able to win in the last two years. There needs to be defined reasons why they are a target account and what you expect to do with them – and making sure those expectations are realistic. This isn’t a situation where you say, “we’ve not had any luck with these accounts: you take them!”
[Kathy] The first thing they need to do is to define what their account-based marketing program is. The term has lost a lot of meaning recently, and many things can be considered account-based marketing. But you need to focus and say, “this is a strategic 1:1 ABM program” or “this is a precision ABM program” because that helps guide you toward technology that will best support that strategy. So, define what ABM means for your company. Then, think about the capabilities that you need to be able to segment and personalize your message. What level of granularity do you need to do that? You’ll probably come up with five to eight different categories: do you need account selection? Lookalike modeling? Do you need to append coverage or contacts? Do you need to support digital interactions like advertising? Do you want website personalization? From there, you can come up with a grid to help visualize what technologies fit in what categories – and further – which technologies can achieve the level of granularity or personalization that you’re looking for.
Finally, you want to consider your own infrastructure and what is going to work best.
The biggest factors that people ignore are things like, what training is involved? What integrations are involved? Is it going to change my sales and marketing process and how minor or major is that going to be? It’s very hard for a zebra to change its stripes. You can’t completely expect a sales and marketing to change overnight, or at all.
[Kathy] Yes, there are a couple solution providers out there and it will be interesting to see where they overlap. Everyone has lots of data now – you can scrape the web, you can get intent data, you can get all types of reports – but how do you take all that information and use it to recommend a next action, based on the company, based on the person. We are starting to see software help marketers make sense of all that data, and use it to make recommendations on next best offer, or what that next treatment should be.
[Kathy] If I look at a skillset for a 1:1 ABM marketer, I think they are seasoned, experienced marketers that can hold their own with senior members of their sales team. They have market knowledge, and consultative abilities. They are well-rounded executers – they know the different areas of marketing. You look for leadership, people who are collaborative, strategic thinkers and who are creative. And good communication skills. That makes the difference because, in a 1:1 scenario, they are usually working with a top sales rep.