- All account-based marketing (ABM) programs – whether best-in-class or just getting started – need an occasional bit of maintenance
- Take your ABM programs up a notch by asking some essential questions
- Annual ABM spring cleaning includes an evaluation of goals, alignment, account selections, tactics and results
Spring is my favorite time of year! My energy level rises with the arrival of the first daffodil, and I start to plan what I will do with the longer days: What do I need to do to get the garden ready for the summer growing season? What household projects need to get done? What friends are overdue a visit? What areas of my home, life and finances need a good spring cleaning?
The arrival of spring is also a good time for account-based marketing (ABM) practitioners to reflect on their ABM programs – what’s working, what needs to improve, and what areas require investment to keep the program on course. Plan well ahead of your fiscal year-end to ensure you are tracking performance against your original goal and starting to build a business case for any investments you’ll need to take your program to the next level.
Some ABM programs can get stuck in a rut, particularly between the ages of nine and 24 months, where they have gone beyond the pilot stage but still haven’t been fully embedded into the fabric of the organization. The annual spring cleaning provides a good opportunity to reflect on what may be needed to give ABM a permanent home. Start by looking at your strategy, goals and alignment:
- Do you have a clear statement of the overall program goal, and more importantly, have the goal posts moved since the program was set up (e.g. due to organizational change)? Suggested action: Use this time to review the currency of your ABM charter if it hasn’t been reviewed in a while, especially if you’ve been through organizational changes since the program was established.
- Is your sponsor still on board? When was the last time you checked in with the sponsor to discuss what success looked like and what had been delivered against that goal? Suggested action: If you don’t have quarterly business reviews in place with your executive sponsor, now may be a great time to suggest a program review using your updated charter as a basis for discussion and alignment.
- Do you have the resources you need? Some ABM programs get stuck in pilot mode because they don’t have the resources to scale beyond a pilot. Paint a picture of what a best-in-class ABM program would look like for your organization and the resources it would need. Suggested action: Create a budget and business case to support the investment, using examples of how ABM has delivered superior returns.
- What have the results been to date? What have you learned from them, and how can you use this to improve your program and create a business case for more resources? Suggested action: If you didn’t formally complete a post-pilot evaluation, consider doing one now. Review the efficacy of all your tactics so that you can scale back those that aren’t working and double down on those that are.
- Do any of the account selections need reviewing? While some accounts may have qualified when you first selected them, times can change, and a change of account management or change of circumstance on the target account’s side may mean that they no longer meet the original selection criteria. Suggested action: Review account selections periodically to ensure that accounts still qualify for ABM support. In addition, occasionally review the selection criteria as business priorities change. For instance, if new legislation increases propensity for one of your offerings, this can lend weight to opportunity scoring.
- Is ABM still in demand and front of mind with account managers and the sales team? Chances are, those that haven’t been included in the program to date will need a refresher on the benefits of ABM if recruiting new accounts into the program, so consider doing an internal communications push featuring case studies of the benefits achieved to date.
The above tips are handy for any ABM program, but how do best-in-class practitioners keep their ABM programs in top shape?
- They regularly review the tactics they are using to ensure they focus on tactics that provide the best return.
- They constantly review whether manual processes could be automated to streamline their programs and make their headcount resources go further.
- They promote their programs regularly, internally and externally, knowing that recognition helps to build ABM’s brand, which makes it easier to recruit accounts into the program and justify the resources needed to support extra accounts.
- They are sensitive to organizational change, and recognize when they need to pivot their programs to adapt to a new operating reality.
Even the most ordered and well run household has a dumping ground – it may be a drawer of odds-and-ends that needs mucking out occasionally; it may be a cupboard, a shed, or an attic. But consider using the turn of the season to clear out any negative influences that may be lurking in your program and making sure your ABM function is fit for purpose for the next 12 months.
Find out more how to achieve success in your account-based marketing strategy with our detailed Account-based marketing guide.