Overcome Common ABM Challenges

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Mark Donnigan


August 29, 2023

Poor targeting

This refers to the challenge of not effectively identifying and selecting the right target accounts for ABM campaigns. When targeting is poor, marketing efforts could be directed toward accounts that do not align with the ideal customer profile (ICP), or the marketing fails to resonate with the intended audience.

Let’s consider a startup that offers project management software. To reach a broad audience, the startup runs campaigns targeting all businesses in the technology sector. 

However, their campaigns do not generate the desired results due to poor targeting. Upon analysis, they discovered their targeting was not aligned with their ICP. This caused them to have low response rates and wasted resources.

Ways to Overcome This Challenge

    1. Employ advanced data analytics and segmentation techniques.
    2. Conduct comprehensive market research to develop a detailed ICP that defines target account characteristics, needs, and pain points.
    3. Utilize predictive modeling, intent data, and account scoring methodologies to enhance the accuracy of target account selection.

Lack of executive buy-in 

This problem arises when executives fail to understand how ABM supports the company’s business objectives leading to insufficient resources, limited investment, and a lack of organizational commitment. 

How to Overcome This Challenge

  • Clearly articulate the value and impact of implementing ABM to executives, using data-driven insights, industry benchmarks, and success stories.
  • Develop a compelling business case highlighting how implementing ABM aligns with organizational objectives, drives revenue growth, and strengthens long-term customer relationships.
  • Regularly communicate progress in implementing ABM to executives, providing updates on key metrics and demonstrating the value generated by ABM initiatives.

Measuring the wrong metrics

It is not uncommon for businesses to focus on metrics that do not provide meaningful insights. This can prove to be a costly mistake for startups that solely track website traffic or social media engagement. These metrics may not accurately reflect the effectiveness of their account-based marketing (ABM) strategies in generating revenue and acquiring new customers. It is important for companies to prioritize the evaluation of metrics that offer actionable insights and help improve the overall success of their ABM marketing efforts.

How to Overcome This Challenge

  • Shift the focus to metrics such as pipeline contribution, revenue influenced, or account conversion rates. These can provide a more accurate assessment of the impact of implementing ABM on revenue generation.
  • Ensure that the metrics used to evaluate ABM campaigns are directly aligned with the broader objectives of the business. 
  • Utilize tools such as Marketo Engage, HubSpot, or Pardot that offer advanced marketing automation features and robust attribution capabilities.

Lack of marketing and sales alignment

An obstacle that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns frequently face is a lack of synchronization between marketing and sales teams. When these teams don’t effectively work together and communicate regularly, it can result in conflicting messaging, misguided initiatives, and overlooked chances to attract and convert prospective accounts. These teams must have a close working relationship to guarantee that they are in alignment and maximizing each opportunity that comes their way.

How to Overcome This Challenge

  • Facilitate cross-functional collaboration by organizing joint planning sessions between marketing and sales teams to align on ABM goals, target account selection, and messaging strategies.
  • Define shared key performance indicators, such as revenue influenced or account conversion rates, to align marketing and sales efforts. Develop a unified ABM strategy that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each team.
  • Utilize customer relationship management systems or other integrated platforms to streamline communication, enhance data sharing, and ensure a consistent view of target accounts throughout the ABM journey.

Limited Data and Insights

A significant obstacle businesses face when implementing personalized and targeted marketing strategies is the lack of access to accurate and comprehensive data about their target accounts. Without a thorough understanding of the firmographic and behavioral characteristics of the buyer, it can be difficult to tailor messaging and offers to capture their attention.

This can result in lower response rates and missed opportunities for engagement and growth. The challenge is particularly pronounced in cases where marketers are working with outdated or limited data sources, which can further hinder their ability to connect with their target audience effectively.

How to Overcome This Challenge

  • Leverage data enrichment tools and services to enhance your existing data with firmographic, technographic, and intent data. 
  • Collaborate with partners and industry associations to gain access to third-party data sources. This can provide additional layers of information that can enhance your understanding of target accounts.

Key points to remember when gaining access to third-party data

    1. Prioritize data privacy and compliance with regulations to ensure the ethical and legal use of the data.
    2. Verify the quality and reliability of the third-party data before incorporating it into your analysis to avoid making decisions based on flawed or inaccurate information.
    3. Emphasize data security while exchanging third-party data to safeguard sensitive information and protect against potential breaches or unauthorized access.
    4. Define clear data usage rights with the provider to establish proper guidelines and avoid disputes regarding how the data can be used, stored, and shared.
    5. Assess the alignment of the third-party data with your specific business goals and target audience to ensure its usefulness in providing valuable insights. Conduct regular research and surveys to gather first-hand insights directly from your target accounts. This proactive approach will help you stay updated on their evolving needs and preferences.

Misaligned Content

Improperly aligned content can reduce the efficacy of ABM marketing activities. Here are examples of misaligned content and how buyers may perceive it:

Incoherent messaging

Collaboration between marketing and sales teams is essential to align content creation efforts. Buyers may find the messaging confusing and inconsistent when there is a lack of alignment. This can happen when marketing materials focus on the product’s affordability while the sales team emphasizes its ability to solve a unique and highly specialized problem. This inconsistency can make it difficult for buyers to understand the actual value proposition of the product, which can ultimately impact sales. Therefore, teams must work together to ensure that their messaging is consistent and highlights the key value propositions of the product.

Irrelevant content

Content not aligned with the target audience’s needs and preferences may also lack relevance. Let’s say the marketing team creates content that caters to a broad audience. However, buyers may not find the information helpful or applicable without considering specific pain points.

Confusing customer journey

Without content alignment, the buyer’s journey can become fragmented and confusing. Marketing materials may focus solely on awareness and education, while the sales team fails to provide the necessary support during the evaluation and decision-making stages. This disjointed approach can leave buyers feeling lost or unsupported.

How to Overcome This Challenge 

  • Encourage close collaboration between marketing and sales teams through regular meetings and planning sessions. This ensures that both teams are aligned on messaging, goals, and target account requirements. It will enable them to create cohesive and relevant content.
  • Invest in understanding your target accounts by developing buyer personas and conducting customer interviews. This research helps uncover the content preferences and pain points of your audience. It can boost their consistency in crafting content that resonates with the buyers. 
  • Establish a centralized content repository that is easily accessible and shareable across departments. This facilitates collaboration and cohesion in content creation. Both marketing and sales teams can access and utilize relevant content while interacting with target accounts.

Measurement Complexity

Accurately measuring the impact and ROI of ABM campaigns is a complex undertaking for startups. Without a robust measurement framework, startups face difficulties understanding their ABM efforts’ effectiveness. They’ll find it hard to make data-driven decisions and justify their investments. Read more.

How to Overcome This Challenge 

  • Use advanced machine learning algorithms to automate the attribution process and gain accurate insights into the revenue impact of ABM activities. Leverage historical data, customer behavior patterns, and predictive modeling for valuable insights. 
  • Embrace emerging technologies like blockchain to create a transparent and immutable record of marketing activities and revenue attribution. By leveraging the decentralized nature of blockchain, startups can establish a trustworthy system for tracking and validating the impact of ABM campaigns. 
  • Explore innovative approaches such as integrating Internet of Things (IoT) sensors or RFID tags to capture and analyze offline interactions and engagement. By incorporating these technologies into CRM systems, startups can gain a comprehensive view of account engagement and accurately attribute revenue across online and offline channels. 

Giving up too soon

ABM, just like other campaigns, requires time to give measurable results. However, a common challenge is the lack of patience, leading to prematurely abandoning the initiatives. For example, a company implementing ABM might expect immediate conversions and revenue. But without allowing sufficient time for relationships to develop and strategies to mature, they may immediately assume that ABM is ineffective.

How to Overcome This Challenge

  • Understand that ABM is a long-term strategy requiring consistent effort, continuous refinement, and iterative improvements. Recognize that results may take time to materialize.
  • Leverage data insights to make informed adjustments and optimize efforts. Identify successful tactics and refine strategies based on performance data.
  • Develop a mindset focused on long-term success, learning from previous campaigns and applying insights to future iterations.

Bonus Tips to Supercharge Your ABM Strategy

Sniper, Not Shotgun

Most marketing strategies tend to use the “shotgun approach.” It’s like launching a campaign and crossing your fingers, hoping to hit the right target. Being a sniper is the way to go when it comes to ABM. Imagine carefully identifying your target, patiently waiting for the right moment, and precisely taking that shot.

Here’s how you can embrace the sniper approach:

  • Know Your Target: Get to know your ideal clients inside out. Understand their pain points, fears, aspirations, and so on. This knowledge will help you craft personalized content and choose the channels to reach them effectively.
  • Aim for Precision: Instead of spraying generic messages to a broad audience, be selective and deliver your tailored content directly to your target accounts. This way, your efforts will be laser-focused, maximizing the impact and engagement.
  • Hit the Bullseye: Take the time to analyze the data and gather insights. Learn from your successes and failures, fine-tuning your approach for future campaigns. By continually refining your aim, you’ll hit the bullseye more often.

Hire the Right Salespeople

Your sales team is the backbone of your business. They play a huge role in closing deals and driving revenue. To ensure your ABM efforts are successful, hire salespeople with the skills and experience to excel in this role.

When evaluating potential candidates, consider these steps:

  • Check their LinkedIn Profile: Take a sneak peek at their LinkedIn profile to see how they present themselves. Look for indicators of their selling prowess and ability to showcase their brand. After all, if they can’t sell themselves effectively, can they genuinely sell your services to target accounts?
  • Explore Their Sales Process: During the interview, ask candidates to describe their sales process. Pay attention to their insights on building relationships, understanding customer needs, and closing deals. Look for alignment between their approach and your business goals.

Remember, a good salesperson goes beyond delivering an exciting pitch. They possess resilience, empathy, and a genuine desire to understand and fulfill customer needs. Hiring the right salespeople will enhance your chances of success in ABM.

Customer Retention over Acquisition

While acquiring new customers is essential, focusing on customer retention can yield even more significant benefits. After all, it’s estimated that retaining an existing customer costs significantly less than acquiring a new one.

Consider the following aspects of customer retention:

By prioritizing customer retention, you can create a loyal customer base, increase customer lifetime value, and establish a strong foundation for sustainable business growth.

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