Are You Doing ABM (But Don’t Even Know it)?
If you’re a digital B2B marketer or sales manager, you may have asked yourself this question a time (or two): What is a qualified lead?
That’s obviously one of the most important definitions you should consider. Deciding what makes up an MQL drives the entirety of your demand generation efforts. That’s why it’s the first order of business for prudent B2B marketers.
So, if you’ve ever asked yourself that question, then there’s a good chance you’re already doing something you had no idea you were engaged in: Account-based marketing (ABM).
Yes, that’s right. You’ve launched an ABM initiative without ever realizing you were on the cutting edge of B2B marketing. Congratulations!
How did this happen? Consider how, in theory (and, we hope, a lot of practice), how ABM is supposed to operate:
- Your sales and marketing teams work together to identify the best accounts they should target.
- Using detailed buyer personas, your own data or third-party data, and channels like social media, you identify the key decision-makers who are part of the Buying Group at that account.
- You then use relevant messaging to engage those other decision-makers.
- You convert them into internal advocates, who spread the word within (and even beyond) the confines of the account.
- You sell, sell, and sell again!
Look familiar? As in, “we follow a lot of that process already. Actually, we do nearly all of that process already.”
The next question, though, is: Are you all doing it in alignment? Is everyone who’s defining a MQL in your organization on the same page?
Targeting is great; alignment is even better!
Any smart sales or marketing strategy starts with targeting, and in B2B, it may just so happen that the sales and marketing teams (and ABM unit, if you’ve got one), working separately, wind up at the same place when it comes to your MQL.
If you’re doing targeting by industry, or account size, or by titles or any other segmentation, you’re breaking down the entire universe of potential targets into subsets upon subsets, aiming to arrive at a genuine MQL. You’re only identifying a finite number of companies as real prospects, and you’re zeroing in on the people within those firms who’ll make the call when it comes to purchasing your product.
So you’re already doing ABM, though not by name.
If your sales, marketing (and ABM sub-team, if you’ve got one) are eventually ending up in the same vicinity in terms of targeting, that may certainly validate what constitutes an MQL for your company.
Too often, they don’t wind up in the same place. Because they didn’t put their heads together at the start to jointly decide what defines an MQL.
That’s why sales, marketing and the ABM specialists should all be in alignment from the beginning about what a qualified lead looks like.
Answering that question (again)
That’s why it’s vital to ask yourself that question every so often: What is a qualified lead? Not the least because the definition may change over time.
More importantly, if you’re in Marketing, you should stroll over to Sales and ask them what their definition is. If it’s not identical, then your marketing and sales leadership need to sequester themselves in the nearest conference room (or Four Seasons; whatever works!) to hammer out a common profile of your MQLs, and makes decisions about other critical points, like what determines a targeted account.
Once you know your universe and the targets inside it, then you can apply the right tools to identifying and engaging them. Just like that, you’re more than halfway to ABM. Why not go the distance?