Last month, Research In Action (RIA), an independent research and consulting company, published their first annual vendor evaluation on Account Based Marketing SaaS and Software. InsideView is delighted to have been named a top five leader in the Top 20 Global Vendors for 2019 market report.
The rankings were based on ratings by more than 1,500 Enterprise and SMB buyers, along with RIA’s own evaluation of each vendor’s ABM execution and strategy. InsideView received impressive scores for both its ability to execute along with its solid product strategy.
OK, maybe you’re wondering what exactly is an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy? Everyone is talking about ABM and some companies seem to be having great success with it. But I’d bet they are the minority. Most are still trying to figure out how to execute an ABM strategy and are confused by the plethora of “ABM” applications that are supposed to support these programs. To be fair, this market is very broad and includes vendors that support different parts of the ABM process, all claiming to offer what customer’s need most.
Peter O’Neill, Research Director at RAI,admits, “ABM software is not a mature market. There is no actual “ABM software” market, it is currently just the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors. There are well over 90 software and SaaS vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality and probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization.” RIA has evaluated the top 20 vendors in this market today.
So let’s get into it. Starting at the beginning…
A little history
ABM is not new. Sellers have been using an account based approach for a long time, focusing on a select group of highly desirable accounts, researching them deeply, and developing a customized sales approach for each. The recent development is that marketing has joined forces with sales to start that focus higher up the funnel, using data to tighten up the process. And with that ABM was born.
So naturally this means ABM requires tight collaboration between sales and marketing to agree on target accounts, share contact data, customize messaging, and orchestrate engagement. For most companies, this requires a lot of manual work…which doesn’t scale. This is why you bring technology into the picture.
So the next question should be: OK, what is an ABM app?
At InsideView, we think of ABM as a process and an ABM SaaS or software app is simply a technology solution that helps with one or more of the below steps.
The ABM process
- Create a target account list. You’d be surprised how many companies gloss over this step, often looking to their sales people to come up with their list of “favorite” accounts. We recommend taking a more scientific approach:
- Define your ideal customer profile (ICP). Who are your best customers? What characteristics do they have in common?
- Do a total addressable market (TAM) analysis to find more accounts that look like your ICP. Compare your TAM to your current prospect list and fill the “whitespace.”
- Narrow your list down to a manageable number of your best opportunities.This will be your initial ABM list.
- Identify the right contacts at these accounts. The average buying group today is between 7 and 10 people, according to the authors of The Challenger Sale.* Make sure you build out your account contact lists to include enough decision-makers and influencers. And make sure you are mapping leads to accounts, so you can orchestrate your messaging and engagement.
- Execute your strategy. Find out as much as you can about each account — their competitors, threats, key initiatives, and so forth — this is so you can tailor your message and outreach. A key concept of ABM is this more personalized touch. Then implement your campaign strategy. It may involve advertising, email, outbound calling, direct mail, and more. The key here is to target precisely and be relevant.
- Measure how you’re doing. ABM requires a new set of metrics. Rather than measuring lead volume, you want to know about account engagement. Are the buying teams within the account engaged and how deeply? You’ll also want to track movement of your target accounts through each stage of the funnel. What percentage of your leads fall into your ABM group? Are they progressing to opportunities and closed-won deals? If ABM is just one program you’re running, how is it doing vs other programs?
- Refine and repeat. Once you’ve executed your initial campaign against your first ABM list and the sellers have had enough time to build opportunities, it’s time to ask, “What next?” With detailed analytics in place, you’ll see what’s working and where to adjust. Even if everything is working perfectly, you’ll need a new set of target accounts. Start over at step one: Refine your ICP, if needed, and gather the next wave of targets.
Where InsideView fits in
To date, no ABM SaaS or software addresses every aspect of the process, but InsideView has powerful solutions for most steps of the ABM process.
Steps 1 & 2: We help you create your account and contact list, starting with a powerful visual app that defines your ICP. You can then analyze your TAM, do “what if” analyses, visualize your whitespace, and download lists of accounts and contacts to fill your whitespace and cover the buying group. You can further refine your list with our AI-based recommendation engine that identifies your top look-alike accounts. Lastly, we enable you to map lead to accounts.
Step 3: InsideView enables you to flag ABM accounts in your CRM, to keep sales and marketing focused on executing the plan.
We deliver real-time account and contact data and insights into your CRM to give you a deep understanding of your target accounts. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your message and leverage our comprehensive connections graph to get warm introductions into your accounts.
You may also want to incorporate other (non-InsideView) apps for your marketing outreach: digital ads, being the most common, and some companies chose direct mail as a way to make an impact with a key decision maker.
Steps 4 & 5: Finally, we provide full funnel analytics of your ABM targets, so you can see what’s working and where to make adjustments. We help you answer the questions, “Is this working?” and “What next?” when it’s time to refine and repeat.
Research In Action is a leading independent information and communications technology research and consulting company, providing both forward-looking as well as practical advice to enterprise as well as vendor clients. Peter O’Neill is most known for his 12 years of service at Forrester Research as an industry analyst where, most recently, he directed all Forrester’s research on B2B Marketing organization, process, and automation topics.
I’d like to close by thanking Peter for shining a light on this complex technology category and helping streamline the evaluation process for customers. We invite you to read the abridged report and learn more about how InsideView empowers go-to-market strategies, including ABM.
*Source: Challenger, “More B2B Decision-Makers Are Weighing In,” Nov 21, 2018