Fishing with Spears - Hunting your dream accounts

Fishing with Spears – Hunting your ‘dream’ accounts

A salesman’s job is much like that of a fisherman. It all begins with casting a wide net to round up the fish – to generate as many leads as possible in one’s general area. Then having to filter through them to eliminate all the unwanted among the collection – the crabs, the catfish, and all the others – to finally pick out the handful that are suitable to be prepared for serving up on a platter.

While this method works for capturing smaller fish in large numbers, the modern salesman is acutely aware that one whale easily outweighs a thousand fish. The question thus becomes, can we catch a whale using the same net?

The answer, of course, is no. Just as a whale takes virtually no heed of a net, the decision makers at enterprises will mostly ignore generic or cold email outreach as spam, and dismiss your offering before they even lay eyes on it. It is also unlikely that such a decision maker will simply run a Google search for their requirements, and therefore never see those ads that you are paying top dollar for. In such a case, how do you enable your sales team to pursue the whales?
The method they adopt needs to change and optimise itself for big ticket leads, and Account Based Marketing (ABM) aims to deliver just that.

Account Based Marketing is the art of identifying the prime accounts that fit your ideal sales target, and using multi-channel influence to guide them along the revenue cycle till conversion. This not only saves time & effort, but also nurtures better alignment between sales and marketing – thereby providing clarity of communication which pinpoints the customer’s needs.

We envision the metaphorical equivalent of this as fishing with spears.. or harpoons, if you happen to be a fan of Captain Ahab!

Account Strategy:

The very first step of the ABM process is to put heads together & identify the high value businesses whose needs match the services you are offering. Once such targets are identified, the stress & fatigue attached to casting a wide net are much reduced, and a fixed set of strategies can be defined & drilled.

Of course, in order to hunt a fish, you must first understand its nature. Where does your ideal target usually spend their time, do they recognise the same pain points you do, are they looking for a service provider, who do they get influenced by?

Content that is delivered at the right moment is manifold more effective than when the customer is uninterested. Let us take a crucial example of judging intent with the example of a commercial real estate vendor. A simple details such as upcoming lease expiry dates can alert us to organisations that might be keen on finding a new service provider.

Thus, many questions need to be asked & answered in order to come up with well designed strategies that communication can follow.

Messaging & Content Design:

This communication is prepared, keeping several factors in mind:

  • Role & positions of the stakeholders being targeted
  • Channels through which the communication will be shared
  • Best features of the service you are offering
  • Stage of the revenue cycle where it shall be presented
  • ndustry related topics and more.

Hitting the sweet spot here is crucial to making all the prior effort count & enable the future to be shaped in the right direction. That is to say, it’s not sufficient to only have keen eyes that spot the big fish, it is important to sharpen your spears so that the fish may be caught.

Engagement Channels

Keeping in mind the characteristics of the big fish we seek, our most recommended channels for contact are broadly split over:

Email:
A personalised approach over email is the perfect follow-up to a target individual/account that has shown primary level of interest in your offering. It is important to strike while the iron is hot & a couple of well-timed emails that reflect intelligence on the customer’s needs can open up doors to your next bonafide client.

Advertising:
Under the ABM process, advertising is a highly specific & targeted activity that ensures top-of-the-mind recall among your target audience in addition to sourcing them towards your offering. The practice of studying the nature & characteristics of target accounts ensures that the marketing team is aware of exactly which channels to pursue advertising over and efficiently allocate its spends.

Direct mail:
Often used in the late/closing stages of the revenue cycle, this effort is reserved for only the most special of fish. Direct mail covers activities such as sending an well-timed hamper to congratulate a key executive on a newsworthy achievement or as a follow-up to a call where considerable progress was made. Sometimes in business relationships can be everything, and the ABM process is designed to create long lasting ties based on clarity & mutual growth.

Analytics

Each of the different steps involved in the creation of an ABM process – Account selection, marketing automation, advertising performance & marketing intelligence – comes with its own hypotheses & parameters. These need to be rigorously tested & accurately measured in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, and having the right toolkit makes the job much easier to manage.

Metrics for measuring the effectiveness of a program depend on the stage of the revenue cycle as well as the intention with which a certain account is being targeted. We broadly speak of it over early, mid & late-stages, but these metrics are often coherent & part of a bigger picture that the sales & marketing teams have agreed upon. This makes it easier to analyse results against those that were expected, and take correctional measures to hit bull’s eye on the target.

Armed with all this information, your sales team can maximise their efforts by effectively hunting big accounts with pointed spears rather than casting their net over a large set that might, even if converted, not be worthwhile to your organisation in the long run.

Jon Miller, co-founder & CEO of Engagio defines ABM as “A strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing & sales efforts at named accounts”.
To understand the ABM process better, check out more of our content here.

Contact us today to learn how we can help tighten your ship!

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