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Top Five Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Fails

Sharon Gillenwater
by Sharon Gillenwater on Dec 2, 2015 3:00:00 PM

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Sales and marketing leaders from companies across a variety of industries tell us that account-based-marketing (ABM) programs are essential to engaging and retaining their most important customers. Nearly all of our customers are either piloting ABM or have full-fledged programs up and running. But these programs are not without some serious executional challenges, which tend to fall into five categories.

Here are the top five reasons why account-based marketing fails.

1. Lack of Ownership

If your account-based marketing program doesn't have a pilot, you won’t get very far. It’s not enough to simply assign accounts to salespeople, give them some information about the account and expect them to know what to do with it. Successful account-based marketing requires a cheerleader--someone who can connect the dots between sales and marketing and mobilize the team around time-sensitive opportunities to engage with the customer, such as a VIP event. Without a program owner, your best opportunities will get lost in the shuffle. Executive sponsorship is also important in terms of having a “face” of the program for account teams and customers alike.

2. Making it Too Complicated

Account-based marketing does not have to be complicated. In fact, keeping it simple--and starting small-- is often the only way to succeed. Companies that roll out ABM across hundreds of accounts simultaneously can become overwhelmed and find the job too big to tackle. Or they bog down the process by requiring onerous documentation; you don't need a 100-page account plan to roll out an account-based marketing initiative. A concise account brief that summarizes company strategy, key initiatives/challenges and key players can keep account teams from getting overwhelmed with too much information. Once you understand the motivations behind the company, and the people that run it, you can start delivering relevant offers and expertise that will resonate with them. Keep it as simple as possible--and build momentum over time with a series of small wins.

3. Lack of Insight

Powerful CRM systems have lulled us into a false sense of security. More often than not, the information in CRMs is internally-focused (pipeline, products purchased, etc.). While this is important information to have, a key element of account-based marketing is insight into the company strategy and the executives behind it. Make sure everyone on the team understands where the company is in relation to their goals and objectives. Your sales goals and processes don’t mean anything to them, but if you understand their objectives, strategies and challenges, you can establish your company as a more credible and valuable partner than the competition.

4. Lack of Consistent, Sustained Effort

Account-based marketing is not so different from everything else in life; if you want to succeed, you need to be consistent and practice the right moves again, and again, and again. A critical success factor in account-based marketing is relationship building, and relationships take time to build through multiple touchpoints such as phone conversations, face-to-face meetings and electronic communications. Each touch should add value, thus strengthening the relationship for the long term.

5. No Measurement and Accountability

Today's business mantra is "if it can't get measured, don't do it." If your program has no owner and is not sustained, it won't be measured and its value will most certainly be called into question by others competing for resources. What we have seen work best is to successfully benchmark accounts that received account-based marketing focus against similar companies that have not. One service provider customer for example, saw an 18% lift in wireless revenue and a 35% lift in wireline revenue from a sustained account-based marketing effort. By tracking--and quantifying--the success of account-based marketing, you will be able to prove the value of what you are doing, even if the results are not immediate. Armed with proof of their account-based marketing efforts, our service provider customer told us their program has never been in jeopardy, despite multiple rounds of budget cuts over the years.

A critical success factor in account-based marketing is understanding your prospect and their business inside and out. Our customers use our executive profiles to support their account-based marketing efforts. View our sample profiles now.

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Sharon Gillenwater
Written by Sharon Gillenwater
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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