March Madness and ABM: How Data Can Make Your Account Selection a Slam Dunk

Staying on top of your target accounts will help you avoid wasting time and money on prospects that are no longer likely opportunities and prematurely moving leads through the funnel.

One question we are constantly asked is how do you select accounts for ABM programs? For enterprises it can be especially difficult to narrow down thousands of accounts to a mere handful. And to be honest, there is not a one size fits all answer. Every company has their own ideal customer profile, so one company’s ABM accounts are not going to look the same as another’s. That being said, there are best practices to follow in order to define and upkeep your ABM accounts and we’ve turned to the most strategic sport in the game to help us.

Every March, the US National Men’s Basketball Tournament occurs, but only 32 teams automatically qualify for the competition. Of the remaining 315 Division I college basketball teams, how does the NCAA determine not only which other 36 teams get to play, but also the seeds, or groups, that give each team the best chance to succeed? The answer: data.
As March Madness kicks off to a start this month, here are 3 tips to defining your ABM ‘champion’ accounts:

  • Account Selection: Time to Qualify

The first step is defining your ‘ideal’ customer profile. The NCAA knows the traits of a strong team based on past champions, and you too should utilize your best successes to help inform your ‘ideal’ customer profile. Once you know the qualities you are looking for, you can begin to decide which customers meet the mark. Most companies already have an idea of who they want to target, but consolidating thousands of accounts down to a manageable number is tricky. Cross-referencing firmographic and behavioral data is the key to this process of elimination.

The NCAA Selection Committee uses a machine-learning evaluation tool called NET in order to rank their top teams. NET combines game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses to define a team’s strength and overall performance ranking. The key to their accuracy is that they fuse predictive and results-based metrics. You need to know company size, industry, pain points, strategic initiatives, and any obstacles, such as existing relationships, that could hinder your chances. In addition to this foundational information, recent engagement and behavioral data is just as important. Leveraging intent data, lead scoring, and social listening engagements will allow you to predict what these accounts’ priorities are. Additionally, knowing which companies are researching topics related to your business or visiting your website will help you avoid “cherry picking”, or waiting around for opportunities to come your way, and rule out accounts that aren’t ready to commit.

  • Scoring: Pick your A-team

Now that you have a pool of key accounts with the best opportunities for success, you need to prioritize them. Using a tiered ABM approach will allow you to scale your targeting and still provide your key accounts with extra attention. True ABM doesn’t only mean 1:1 targeting, it also includes 1:few targeting, which clusters accounts based on similar interests and characteristics. Both methods require comprehensive insights and use personalized, account-based targeting, one is just geared towards scalability. The March Madness tournament also follows a tiered approach with ranking-based seeds. This gives the teams predicted to win, the best chance to excel. Your top ranking, ‘must win’ accounts should be your ultimate focus using 1:1 ABM, where as accounts with less known potential move down the scale to 1:few. Using the rankings you created from data research, your top accounts will be those with the most alignment to your ‘ideal’ customer profile. If you are still having trouble deciding where to prioritize your ABM spend, deep diving into this smaller pool of opportune accounts will uncover data that will differentiate your ‘must win’ accounts from the rest.

  • Re-evaluate: Who made the cut?

The biggest mistake that companies make with ABM account selection is thinking they are done once they have their ‘True ABM’ list. The market is always shifting as are company’s priorities and structures, making it necessary to constantly analyze where these companies stand in your ABM rankings. The NCAA creates imaginary brackets to forecast which teams will move through the competition using predictive outputs from NET, but in order to maintain the accuracy of these forecasts they supplement their data with real-time statistics throughout the tournament. If certain teams do not perform as well as expected, they need to be able to shift their bets quickly and intelligently. You should continually refresh your account insights with new data in order to optimize which accounts are in which tiers. Staying on top of your target accounts will help you avoid wasting time and money on prospects that are no longer likely opportunities and prematurely moving leads through the funnel.

Now that you have your ‘Triple Threat’ account selection strategy, you can be sure that your ABM execution will be a slam dunk!
If you don’t have the data resources to deep dive on your own, check out our new custom research tool, ID .

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