As we look ahead to 2023, Laura offers advice for ABM-ers whose financial year closes at the end of March, and whose sales colleagues are focused on closing out the final quarter.
The role of the account-based marketer (ABM-er) has evolved significantly over the last few years and is now widely seen as a driver of sustainable, long-term business growth with priority customers and prospects, in partnership with sales. But, as these sales colleagues focus on closing out the financial year at the end of March, there can be increased pressure on ABM-ers to deliver short-term campaigns and demand.
So how can ABM-ers give longer-term customer relationships and growth strategies the focus they deserve when everyone around them is single-mindedly working on Q4 results? Here are my top five tips:
1. Ensure stakeholder buy-in
Culturally, stakeholders must be bought into marketing taking a longer-term view of growth in top accounts. Sustainable growth means building enduring relationships with customers; it is a joint effort and needs equal skin in the game between all customer-facing teams. Demonstrating the value of ABM but more importantly, the commitment needed from stakeholders to make it work is fundamental to avoiding a ‘shift right’ mentality and a waiver of that initial commitment to the longer-term account ambition that we all see. Otherwise, what should be a strategic programme, can soon turn into desperate tactics. Make it clear that ABM reaps the best results when deployed as a collaborative, strategic initiative, and ensure that stakeholders are in it for the long-term.
2. Allocate a respectable budget
An appropriate financial commitment to ABM is crucial to success, but it can be challenging to proportion budget across short and longer-term activities. Consider ringfencing a 40-50% of the ABM budget on an account to support the longer-term ambition.
3. Find synergies and opportunities to re-use
Sitting above the ABM team it’s not just about making the ABM programme (and accounts) successful, it’s also about wider leverage and value from across marketing. Think about reusing ABM assets and campaigns to leverage the investment and drive additional growth in the final quarter of the year. Your field marketing and demand generation colleagues will be under pressure as Q4 progresses! Consider building an ABM Centre of Excellence (CoE) to industrialize your approach and offer ABM as a service to other teams.
4. Keep the right mindset
Bringing in some external support to validate your approach and help maintain a focus on the longer-term growth ambitions may help you maintain the right mindset when all around you are focused on Q4.
5. Ask difficult questions
How can you help colleagues focus on the long-term ambition with customers rather than hitting short term quotas? Ask difficult questions. Will the attempt to sell X when the customer really wants Y pay off in the long term? Will it deliver the business outcomes our customer needs? Will it position us to deliver more value in the account next year? Keep asking these hard, pointy questions – your stakeholders will respect you for it and it will drive the right behavior in the team to deliver sustainable results for you and your customers.