Seven's Seven Steps for ABM Success

What we've learnt so far about B2B success through Account Based Marketing


Account Based Marketing (ABM) has become a critical approach for the vast majority of our B2B clients. Across all sectors increased competition and multi-stakeholder decision-making, over five according to Oracle, means it’s essential to get this right to deliver ongoing success.

Large organisations are not only looking at the relationship between their sales and marketing function but reviewing the technology and tools they invest in while ensuring their marketing spend can support existing and new client contact. Improving the client experience (CX) has proven results not only in winning new clients/projects and on-boarding new accounts, but also the ongoing contact puts you front of mind and makes you a business partner rather than just a supplier.

At SevenC3 we support clients’ ABM activity and help them achieve their objectives through insight and content creation and activation – we’ve learnt a lot from watching what’s successful for them and applying some of the fundamental approaches to our own ways of working. 

Here’s my top seven list of how to make ABM a success:

1. Make it relevant

Deliver a higher hit rate by being more relevant – ‘treating individual accounts as markets in their own right’ is how Bev Burgess of ITSMA defines ABM – businesses need to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach and use data and insight to identify the clients where they are most likely to succeed. This could start with looking at your current client base and identifying the attributes they possess and looking for similar organisations, or go as far as creating predictive models based on a range of data sources. 

2. Make it personal

Before making any sort of approach, do your research – SevenC3 uses Storymapping to really understand our client’s customers, their challenges and what they are looking for in order to make what our clients say more relevant and helpful. With organisational collective decision-making, knowing who you’re talking to means you can tailor what and how you make contact. Think about what are their experiences and biases – this includes the social channels they are most active in. In an established client relationship use content, your own or curated, to go a step beyond just the day-to-day share to something you think the client might be interested in or you know is currently a business challenge. Of course, this is where the grand gesture can have its place – show your passion!

3. Align all sales and marketing

This is teams, tools and goals. By having a holistic approach to interactions through shared goals and tools you create a wrestling tag-team who work together to deliver higher and quicker results. Insight has shown that 50% of marketing-generated leads are ignored by Sales (MillerPrice) while 40% of sales time is lost prospecting (CEB); working together ensures opportunities aren’t lost and potentially savings can be made in efficient ways of working and the marketing activity you undertake. 

4. Use technology and tools

You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself. There are numerous tools and platforms to improve the user experience, capture behaviours, empower teams to understand and serve content to their contacts and clients as well as capture data in order to make better informed future decisions and increase knowledge and understanding of a client both in terms of their business and as individuals

5. Content creation and distribution

Client insight and understanding should dictate the content tone, formats and channels for distribution. The lines between B2B and B2C are blurring – treat customers and clients as actual people rather than just professionals – if you want to stand out from the deluge of content they are exposed to every day, then you need to inspire, be helpful or solve a problem for the person you’re talking to. We help clients to create the most meaningful interactions they can in order to drive brand preference and loyalty, bringing together the so-called holy grail of journalistic integrity intersects with insight and data.

6. Rethink your KPIs

With more challenging budgets and targets, any ABM activity needs its performance data focused and tied to ROI. Perhaps new types of KPIs need to be agreed that drive new ways of working, particularly if shared across the Marketing and Sales teams. metrics such as: annual contract value, close rates, retention and upsell, client satisfaction and recommendation.

7. Listen and learn

Work in a way that suits your client, flex your style and team to get the best chemistry and results. Always encourage feedback during and at the end of each project as well as on a regular ad hoc basis to understand the state of the relationship. Take criticism seriously and respond in a meaningful way. If in a client survey only one person gives you poor scores make sure that you delve deeper and try to resolve this – even a small chink can have a toxic or negative effect on the perception of your organisation and the work that you deliver. 

If you’re interested in this topic, there are lots of great ABM whitepapers by Demandbase or Oracle; from an excellent LinkedIn feature by Munyaradzi Hoto to some fun pieces on Newscred Insights about a range of ABM approaches that include going for ‘the grand gesture’ as set out by Kate Gundry, founder of Pluck PR.