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Common Pitfalls with Account-Based Marketing

As you start to build out your ABM programme, here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

Sales and Marketing Are Not Aligned

In order for your ABM programme to be successful, sales and marketing have to be on the same page. This is often a problematic area for organisations, who continue to operate business as usual and expect different results. Outline your goals and objectives for the programme and ensure that both departments are in agreement on the target customer list, messaging and outreach plans. And crucially, make sure that both parties are involved in the entire five-step framework that we’ve outlined above. Otherwise, you could end up like one company we know, whose sales team selected accounts for the ABM programme without marketing’s involvement—ignoring key data, inputs and analysis that ultimately required them to go back to account selection well after the programme was supposed to be under way. We will go into more detail on sales and marketing alignment in Chap. 9.

Trying to Go After Too Many Accounts

Given the labour-intensive nature of ABM, we advise starting with a small number of accounts. You may be tempted to breeze through the customer research phase and start sending generic marketing content and messages to all prospects within a particular industry. Don’t do it. This will just water down your message and get your marketing materials sent straight to the rubbish bin.

Creating a ‘One Size Fits All’ Package

We know that it can be time consuming to create customised marketing materials. If you’ve followed our methodology so far you should be in good shape. Before you’ve got to this point, you’ll have developed themes and an industry-level view on major issues and opportunities. Our version of ABM at the top end of the value stack demands that you take a deeper dive at customer and individual level to create value propositions that are highly relevant and tailored.

Giving Up Too Early

Your organisation will get tired of the programme long before your prospects do. We have seen many organisations give up and move on as other internal priorities and pressures arise. Instead of throwing in the towel, implement a methodical process to evaluate the programme’s success and discuss how to evolve your messaging and tactics to stay relevant and impactful.

Starting in Isolation

Starting at the account level is a legitimate tactic, and is certainly an approach we have witnessed. If you do this in isolation, however, then you risk letting your broader organisation pull the value rug from under your feet with irrelevant product push messages.

Again we would cite the senior information technology marketer we originally met in Chap. 2, who waxed lyrical about her ABM programme. When asked what set her organisation apart from competitors she said, ‘Nothing, it’s a commoditised industry.’

So, make sure all the key players in your marketing and sales departments are brought into the programme, starting at value theme level.

Successful ABM relies entirely on clear, aligned value proposition articulation and close co-cooperation with sales and key account managers who service accounts on a daily basis.

We all know how difficult it can be getting marketing and sales to work in harmony, a topic we now turn to.

Further Reading

McDonald, M., & Woodburn, D. (2011). Key account management: The definitive guide (3rd ed.). Chichester: Wiley.

 
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