When it comes to Account-Based Marketing (ABM), account selection and account intelligence are two factors that contribute to successful outcomes. The point, of course, is to select a stable of named accounts that sales and marketing work together with an integrated strategy. Those accounts should have a higher likelihood of becoming closed won – as ABM is a strategy of efficiency over volume.
With ABM, we struggle with account selection. Often, sales wants to choose accounts based on their experience in the market. In the best cases, sales and marketing collaborate and use data to properly choose which accounts are more ripe for your offering. But, more often than not, accounts become traded out for “better” accounts as more information is learned about them and account intelligence grows.
Many years ago, before ABM was a thing, I worked at Iron Mountain. We had developed a tool– an assessment tool –that was used during the sales process to diagnose the current state of an organization and add value to the relationship when we advised on solutions and best practices. The program drove tens of millions in revenue annually and had a bunch of other benefits I’ll explain later.
I implemented this program again in later roles at different companies to a similar effect: prospects that conducted an assessment were more likely to do business with the company that offered them the assessment. We always knew that the benefits of the assessment to the company was that we gleaned an enormous amount of account intelligence because having an assessment tool helped the customers “open the kimono” and offer considerable information about qualification criteria.
What I hadn’t realized, until recently, is that the assessments themselves, and who we targeted for them, was an ABM strategy. And, this approach is very relevant in today’s ABM world. Targeting named accounts with assessments can be built into an ABM strategy to ensure that the account selection is correct on an ongoing basis. Powerful! So let’s all go out and build assessments, right? Well, not so much.
What made these assessment successful was their construct. These were high quality, statistically significant tools built on a true measurement system. The questions were extremely deliberate to get to the heart of the prospects’ pain and unearth information we needed to understand if this company was a fit for our solutions or not. And the tool itself had to be wrapped in a value-added process with reporting and dialogue that was useful to the prospective customer, or they wouldn’t bother taking it – dismissing it as a silly quiz.
As I mentioned, taking the time to build such a tool had tremendous benefit. Not only did it give us great information, it helped the prospect understand why they needed to address their areas of weakness. Data was aggregated and used to compare the prospect against others who took the assessment, offering a bit of “social cred”. And, the data was turned into a report that was published annually and used as a platform for demand gen content for the year. Over time, this report became the go-to benchmark for the industry and a PR juggernaut. In another company, we actually turned the assessment into a product!
Getting to the heart of what content goes into a strategic assessment tool such as this is a tremendous undertaking and one that Iron Mountain dedicated an entire team to. That team worked cross-functionally across the company and with prospective buyers to develop the right content for the assessment. And, this is the reason is is not easy for everyone to simply run out and build their own assessment.
More and more, Marketing Advisory Network is working with clients on ABM strategy. We are now happy to offer consulting around assessment tools as a complement to our ABM work. We’ll conduct the research to establish best practice areas to base the tool on, write the actual assessment tool and its associated customer-facing reporting, and consult with you on integrating this, from a process standpoint, into your GTM approach.
Not sure if a tool like this is right for you? Ask yourself these 3 questions. If you answer yes to any of them, it is worth exploring.
- Do you think that some prospects are more “ripe” for your offering than others?
- Do you feel your company would benefit from being seen as thought leaders?
- Would your sales team be more effective if they were seen as trusted advisors?
I’m happy to talk with you about my experience building these tools, feel free to drop me a line!