Account Selection: take your finger out of the air, and take an insight led approach

ABM is a complex process, heavily rooted in gaining in depth insights using data and analytics, and drawing from sales experience and relationships within the accounts. So why when it comes to account selection is this so often overlooked? 

Reading a recent interview with Fujitsu Director & Head of Account Based Marketing, Anamika Gupta, has got me thinking about how the marketers we work with typically approach account selection for ABM programs. 

Anamika responded to a question about ABM account selection at Fujitsu with her tried and tested recipe for success: “Data + Analytics + Experience + Intuition + Fujitsu strategy for growth = Insight”.

Often our clients come to us with accounts chosen, clusters formed and ready to kick off their new ABM venture, but hold up. How were these accounts chosen? Why were they chosen? And how do we know that they are right for ABM?

Let’s take a step back and really think about what Anamika said. ABM is a complex process, heavily rooted in gaining in depth insights using data and analytics, and drawing from sales experience and relationships within the accounts. So why when it comes to account selection is this so often overlooked? 

As ABM continues to grow in popularity, many marketers are fully riding the wave and believe in ABM and the benefits it will deliver to their business. But when it comes to account selection, in so many instances they turn to sales and say: “OK, which accounts need some ABM love to get them over the line?”, without applying the same data and insight driven approach to account selection that we apply to ABM strategy itself. 

So, to lend you a hand with your own account selection process, I’ve broken down Anamika’s winning formula to help guide you through:

  • Data and Analytics: the obvious ‘go to’ here is firmographic data, exploring the accounts revenue and growth. But to dig a little deeper, and use 1st and 3rd party Intent to understand who is engaging with your website, and who is searching for relevant topics on the wider internet. Reviewing the companies that are engaging with existing paid social and organic social campaigns, as well as who is registering for and attending your events. This shows you who is already interested in what you have to offer – sounds like we’re off to a good start, right?
  • Experience: identify high growth accounts with a strong projection based on what your business has seen and experienced over time. It’s all well and good an account showing high engagement with your website, but if the company is just 20 strong, realistically it might not warrant the investment required for ABM success.
  • Intuition: lean on sales to understand the accounts propensity to buy, and whether you have a product or solution that is right for this account. Equally if the account is heavily invested in a competitor solution, and has an existing five year contract in place, you simply aren’t going to get anywhere by marketing to this account. Understand their renewal cycles and ramp up marketing activity ahead of key decision making periods. ABM is a long game, so you’ll definitely need to start marketing a good year before the renewal is due, but for the four years ahead of that point, your marketing budget would be better spent elsewhere
  • Strategy for growth: are these accounts the right cost fit, relationship fit and cultural fit? After you’ve explored data, analytics, experience and intuition, ask yourself whether this account is the right fit for your business?

It’s also well worth taking a look at your own organization in this process as well. It’s imperative that sales and marketing are aligned in the objectives and goals of your ABM program, so make sure this is something sales wants as well, rather than simply dropping the program on them and expecting them to want to put in the work required. 

So there it is. I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive “all you need to know about account selection”, because it certainly isn’t, but this should give you a good starting point, and a wire frame, for selecting accounts that will ensure ABM success. 

For more blogs on Account Selection, check out the March Madness blog Olivia wrote back in April.

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