By Lora Kratchounova, Principal, Scratch Marketing + Media, and Lindsay Frey, President, demandDrive
When you bring together the complementary perspectives of two great companies steeped in account-based (AB) methodology — one working in external sales development and demand generation and the other focused on integrated, multi-channel, digital marketing — you get a very practical understanding of full funnel management. When you blend in the experiences of scores of B2B professionals in sales and marketing (and a few other roles), you get a comprehensive picture of how the account-based approach to sales and marketing is, and is NOT, working across today’s B2B landscape, and how, when executed properly, it can most favorably influence the buyer’s journey.
At Scratch Marketing + Media and demandDrive, that’s just what we’ve done! We’re pleased to announce the availability of our joint new 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Industry Report and Roadmap to Account-Based Funnel Management Success, a complete look at the account-based methodology in both theory and practice within B2B organizations today.
This report combines an independent industry survey we undertook in January and February of 2017 with our firsthand experiences supporting the sales and marketing efforts of numerous clients looking to maximize their penetration within the accounts that matter most to their businesses.
The resulting insights illuminate current trends in account-based methodology. The report reveals where organizations are struggling with their account-based strategy and execution, and it identifies opportunities for growth in 2017. At the end, we offer a practical roadmap for launching an AB initiative of your own through a new lens – Account-Based Funnel Management (ABFM) – which is the right lens for you to focus on growing your business.
The survey findings confirm much of what we’ve known to be true – the account-based approach is game-on in 2017, with close to 75 percent of organizations either engaged in or planning for account-based initiatives. And, among companies that are planning to invest in AB this year, nearly two-thirds plan to increase their investment over their 2016 contributions. Taken at face value, these are encouraging signs for those banking on the proliferation of AB methodology. And yet, looking a bit more closely at the data, we find some additional information that tells a more nuanced story.
Our survey reveals that account-based expertise is hard to come by; only about one in five respondents describes himself or herself as an “ABM pro”, and even fewer describe their organizations as having solid AB expertise. Further, the survey indicates that the perceived challenges to launching an AB initiative are widespread and touch all aspects of AB methodology, from account selection to getting ongoing intelligence on key accounts, to determining the optimal content and channel mix for reaching out to top prospects, to delivering personalized experiences to targets.
The survey reveals that respondents are looking to a range of outlets to provide AB intelligence — peers and media/ publications chief among them. And they are looking to bring in external expertise to help execute on their AB activities. Given the results of their self-evaluations regarding in-house AB expertise, it comes as little surprise that the range of activities for which respondents will be looking for external assistance is as broad as the set of challenges they have identified. Again, we see that nearly all of the aspects of AB execution make the list of activities likely to be outsourced, with planning and delivering personalized content, getting ongoing intelligence on key accounts, and determining the best AB toolset landing in the top three spots, respectively.
This data set speaks for itself. Moreover, our own insights and experiences tell us the art of the AB start remains elusive for many B2B organizations. But we know how rewarding a carefully crafted and expertly executed AB initiative can be, even in light of the above challenges. Organizations just need a bit of guidance on how to launch an AB initiative of their own and a little time to demonstrate that the AB approach can be effective.
The good news is that organizations don’t need to jump into AB with both feet right from the start. It is perfectly appropriate, and, more often than not, incredibly shrewd to start out with a small and targeted AB initiative running side-by-side with the company’s familiar sales and marketing operational model. Running both in parallel can give everyone an up-close opportunity to see how the new approach can unfold within the context of their own companies and lead to higher booking rates and shorter sales cycles before committing to a wholesale realignment. In fact, we see 2017 as shaping to be the Year of the Account-Based Pilot, and we know just what B2B organizations need to do to bear that out.
So, we’ve supplemented our 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Industry Report with a practical guide to launching a full-funnel AB pilot initiative. Our Roadmap to Account-Based Funnel Management Success discusses the requisite changes sales reps and marketers working within the pilot program must embrace, including shifting both the priorities assigned to various sales and marketing activities and the perspective on measuring the effectiveness of the activities comprising the ABFM approach.
We invite you to download Scratch Marketing + Media’s and demandDrives’ 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Industry Report and Roadmap to Account-Based Funnel Management Success to learn what your organization can do to get started with ABFM and achieve success right out of the gate!
We look forward to your feedback and comments. For those interested in learning more about how to start your ABM pilot, join us for our related webinar in May: Details here!
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