Our 5-Step ABM Strategy for Pre-Seed Startups

Elen Udovichenko
July 4, 2024
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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just reach your best-fit and highest-value accounts directly at no extra cost? Sounds tempting! But is it possible? 

The short answer is YES. This is exactly what account-based marketing (ABM) offers. 

In this guide, we’ll explain everything about ABM to help you start from scratch. We’ll explore ABM sales basics, who this is for, step-by-step strategy, signals to track, fundamental to-dos, and your next steps when implementing ABM strategy.

Read also: How We Doubled New Clients With Account-Based Outreach

What is an ABM strategy?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy in which marketers and salespeople jointly identify key ‘target’ accounts and then focus on marketing and selling to them. It creates detailed models of key accounts’ economic activities to plan and manage resources in client companies. 

ABM is different from traditional marketing because instead of targeting a broader (but still relevant) audience to get as many leads as possible, it targets and delivers campaigns to the accounts believed to have the highest chance of converting, thus providing maximum revenue.

Why ABM?

ABM’s level of accuracy makes it quite suitable for organizations with complex business-to-business transactions and long customer conversion processes. When companies target several accounts, they can create more quality interactions, develop good relationships, and convert more accounts. The synchronization of marketing and sales means that resources are only directed towards the accounts that would yield the highest return on investment.

Is ABM the right option for you?

It is possible to conclude that ABM is or is not useful for your business by considering your sales funnel and target audience. An account-based marketing strategy is the right option for you if:

1. You have an initial average contract value above $25K

A high-value ABM is a suitable strategy because it is targeted and costly. High-value accounts require differentiation of the company’s value proposition that reflects the ultimate outcomes of the deal. For example, an organization selling enterprise software solutions will typically experience larger initial contracts and thus find value in ABM. This means that the ROI of appealing to those few and significant accounts can be substantial enough to support all the expenses tied to a detailed, account-based selling strategy.

2. You have a lifetime value above $25-50K and an average sales cycle above 3 months

ABM is perfect for long-cycle sales because it is based on a targeting and nurturing approach to building sales relationships. ABM aids in sustaining continuous contact for these rather long intervals to ensure prospects are engaged, progressively steered through the funnel, and offered suitable communication.

3. You sell a solution that requires a complex sales process

As with all account-based strategies, ABM is best practiced when complex decisions are mapped through a decision journey. The steps, such as product demonstrations, discussion of compliance issues, and explanation of how the product can be implemented into the existing workflow, are intricate, which makes it necessary to have a solid marketing and sales structure such as ABM.

4. You have a minimum 4 stakeholders in a deal

In situations with several decision-makers, it is most feasible to use ABM because of the targeted approach. For example, changing the HR system may involve selling to the HR, IT, financial, and executives. Groups have their issues, and goals are varied. This way, ABM allows for crafting relevant/engaging messages and content, which creates a personalized experience, helps reach a consensus, and advances the deal.

5. You need to exchange +50 message to close a deal

The high level of required communication also means that there should be a clear tactic with an unambiguous concentration on certain issues. An example of such a contact might be an enterprise SaaS provider who may offer extensive product presentations, where follow-ups and references to the discussion’s details are necessary. Hence, ABM aids in handling such communication comprehensively where all the communications relayed are within the intended strategy and adapted to guide the prospect towards a decision.

Our 5-step ABM strategy

Implementing an ABM strategy involves a systematic approach. We created a 5-step ABM strategy guide to help you start to implement and work on the account-based marketing strategy.

1. Find and prioritize accounts based on intent signals

Intent signals are behaviors or actions that indicate a prospect's interest in your product or service. These can include:

  • Website visits: Which page are they viewing, and for how long? For example, frequent visits to the pricing page or your product demonstration videos will show high interest.
  • Content downloads: Measure the whitepapers, case studies, or eBook downloads. If a prospect downloads several pieces of content concerning a specific solution, it becomes evident that the prospect intends to use the solution.
  • Event participation: Recording availability of attended webinars or industry events. The prospects you get from registering for your webinars are those who showed interest and attended the webinars.

2. Research each account individually

Take 15-30 minutes to research each account. Conducting a comprehensive study of every account takes time, but it will be very beneficial because you can identify how best to approach each account.

  • Social media accounts: Visit a company’s official social media accounts, especially LinkedIn, which will give you information about the company and its organizational structure.
  • Company websites: Look through the recent achievements, challenges, or new strategic direction highlighted in the organization's news, blog articles, or press releases.
  • Industry news: Follow the latest news feeds, such as Google News, to identify recent activities that might influence the target accounts. This might be another opportunity where mergers or acquisitions are notable for your product.

3. Create a tailored outreach strategy for each account

Creating a personalized experience for each lead could be impossible, but you can make it happen by selecting 5-10 personas daily. Just view their social media accounts, like their posts, send them DMs, and engage with them.

  • Customized messaging: Do not send general messages to your leads. Remember that personalization is the key, and you must address specific pain points and goals for each lead. For example, the CTO of your target company could be interested in the technical side of your solution, while the CFO will focus on the ROI and cost savings.
  • Engagement strategy: You need to create a strategy for approaching your leads. Engaging with their content to build familiarity is a great tactic, but liking and commenting on all their posts in one day could be scary. Separate the views, likes, comments, and engagements into days and create a warm touchpoint.

4. Run a pilot to test your messaging and tactics

You will need a pilot group to test your ideas and tactics. Start with 100 personas. Learn from your mistakes, iterate your messaging, and try again with others.

  • Select a small sample: Focusing on hundreds or thousands of people will not get you anything besides exhaustion. You need to focus on a manageable number of high-value contacts to test your tactics quickly and easily.
  • Monitor engagement: Data is everything. Track the responses and feedback to create a feedforward loop.
  • Adjust tactics: Testing and tracking aren’t enough. Based on the feedback, improve your messages and tactics.

5. Execute the campaign and analyze the results

After optimizing your tactics, target at least 100 accounts to start your campaign. As in the previous step, track the metrics once the campaign is live to understand the outcomes.

  • Tracking metrics: Monitor KPIs based on your product, such as engagement rates, conversion rates, sales cycle lengths, number of bookings, response rates, and many more.
  • Iterate and improve: This will be the lifeblood of your campaign. Doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes is not a realistic approach. So, iterate and improve your campaign to increase your success rate based on the feedback and metrics.

Bonus: 10 intent signals to track

There are 10 intent signals that you need to track to identify high-value potential accounts.

  1. Social media listening: Mentions and hashtags that are related to your industry.
  2. Social media engagement: Understanding who is actively engaged through their comments and reposts can help you prioritize leads and understand their interests.
  3. Industry news: Follow updates about potential customers, such as funding rounds, M&As, leadership changes, or product launches.
  4. Website visits: Analyze your website metrics to understand frequently visited pages or which keywords lead people to your website.
  5. Content downloads: Monitor views and downloads of your content, such as ebooks, templates, or case studies.
  6. Event participation: Knowing the information about the participants of your or industry-related events, including webinars, will give you potential customer lists.
  7. New hires: Personal updates of your potential customers may include a new face in the decision-makers, and you can use that to your advantage.
  8. Industry partnerships: Partnerships within companies can be tracked from press releases and news sites.
  9. New software added to the stack: New software will tell you potential needs and give you a chance to offer an additional tool.
  10. Business expansion: Companies' expansion plans could lead to new challenges and pain points for potential leads, creating an opportunity for your solution to step in.

Pro tip: Use Flowla to create a digital sales room and track detailed visitor insights to understand how your prospects interact with your content and tailor your strategy accordingly. You can check the most active flows (view numbers, link clicks, shares, comments, and more), know all of the stakeholders (who joined the process and from where), and track what converts the most (how much time each of your viewers is spending on each step).

What’s next?

After implementing the ABM strategy, the next step should be to create a long-term engagement and maximize your outcomes. One of the crucial aspects of your future steps is reconnecting with your lost deals. While reconnecting, the most important thing is timing and approach.

Timing is everything, and for reconnecting, having a touchpoint every 2-6-9 months is crucial. You should follow up to ensure prospects don't forget about you, while also spacing out your interactions strategically to avoid annoyance. This timing can also be beneficial, as it allows you to re-engage them when they might be more ready to buy.

  • Sales-led approach

The personal approach is efficient and can be very helpful. In this approach, a contact person, such as an account executive or a sales representative, communicates directly with the prospect.

  1. Review past interactions: If the salesperson was called off from the prospect’s door for any reason, the first step is to understand the context of the previous engagement and the prospect's unmet needs, which led to the deal not being closed earlier.
  2. Personalize communication: Instead, write an email that echoes previous conversations, the current trends in the business industry, or new developments in your product or service that could concern your recipient.
  3. Follow up with value: Be consistent with follow-ups and reactivations by providing fresh information, such as new cases, new products, or new industry trends, which add value to the subscribers.

Example: Hello [prospect name], I trust you are well. I am contacting you to discuss [product name], which we have been discussing. We have added [feature/update] to help solve [specific issue discussed earlier]. I want to catch up and find out how we can support your objective now.

  • Marketing-led approach

With personal outreach, marketers can maintain the constant presence of the company’s product at key decision points in lost deals through proper content marketing.

  1. Segment your audience: Find the lost deals and divide them into groups according to the previous communication, field of activity, and requirements.
  2. Create tailored content: These segments desperately need or find appealing content. Use articles and blogs, white papers, webinars, and case studies to directly discuss their challenges and interests based on the lost deals.
  3. Deploy multi-channel campaigns: Share your content through email marketing, social networks, and promoted posts. Ensure the messages are aligned across all the mediums and continuously promote the value proposition.
  4. Engage and nurture: Globally share expert information, news, and achievements stories routinely. Arrange or attend webinars or any exclusive occasion and interact with them on social media.

Example: Send a quarterly newsletter that includes useful tips about your product, cases of clients who faced similar issues and how you solved them, and invitations to upcoming webinars or events. This makes your brand topical and strategically positions you as an authority in your buyer’s line of business.

Combining approaches for the maximum impact

Combining the sales-led and marketing-led approaches is a strong and viable strategy for re-engagement. When a sales representative contacts the prospect with a personal approach accompanied by informative, engaging content provided by marketing initiatives, the compliment provides an adequate opportunity to rediscover their interest and convert to the product.

  • After 2 months without a response, the sales rep sends an email associated with the recipient’s name, recalling the previous conversations and presenting a new approach to a previously mentioned issue.
  • After 6 months pass, the prospect could send a newsletter with industry information, examples of the company's success, and information about an upcoming relevant webinar.
  • After 9 months since the last visit, the sales rep again engages with them and provides any additional information or product demonstration based on current news.

Boost your success with ABM

Are you ready to boost your B2B success with an account-based marketing strategy? Hopefully, this guide will help you implement an ABM strategy and create a personalized, on-point strategy to improve your success and sales rates. 

If you are ready to learn more and create a new gate to your sales process, check out how to create a digital sales room with Flowla and improve your marketing and sales strategy even more.

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