4 Challenges of Target Account Selection for ABM (and what to do about it)

October 14, 2019 Caroline Van Dyke

As advocates of an account-based strategy, we love to boast the value of taking a highly-targeted approach to your marketing and sales funnel. The results speak for themselves: According to TOPO, a traditional funnel may close just 0.25% to 1.5% leads targeted, but an account-based funnel helps companies close around 11% of accounts targeted. 

While we can tout the rewards, we know orchestrating an account-based strategy is more than half of the battle. Before you can begin to run aligned plays with your sales team, you have to tackle the sometimes-daunting task of picking which accounts you’ll pursue and how to allocate resources. 

For those familiar with the world of ABM, this can present a few challenges. From talking amongst our own account-based teams and discovering common customer challenges, we often see four top areas of trouble (and what you can do to fix it):

1. Creating Quality Account Lists

Before you can begin thinking about which accounts to go after, you need to start with a clear idea of what your most successful customers will look like. 

If your ABM journey isn't starting with developing a strong ideal customer profile, your account list will likely show disappointing returns. If it’s not clearly defined, your product team builds for a first set of customers, your marketing team runs programs against a second set of customers, and finally, sales pushes deals with a third set of customers. What does this get you? Wasted budget. 

The fix

It then comes as no surprise that TOPO discovered that organizations with a strong ICP report 68% higher win rates. It's the backbone of your account list.

What does a strong ICP entail? It should be a detailed company profile, relying on specific firmographic and technographic attributes. Here's a specific example:

The key element is to take a data-backed approach to building your ICP and then your target account list. With RollWorks’ ICP Insights, you can create a view of your ideal customer by analyzing your closed-won customer data.  Use this custom ICP template to get started.

From there, you can dive into a database of over 18 million verified accounts to build your target account list that matches the specific attributes of your ICP. 

You can now trust a data-backed list and champion it between marketing and sales teams. 

2. Acquiring the Right Contacts at Accounts

While there’s hefty emphasis on the word accounts for an ABM strategy, you can’t overlook the buying committees at your target accounts. While marketing teams have multiple tactics to engage accounts, sellers often need a real person to spark conversation with. 

According to Harvard Business Review, the committee involved in a B2B purchase has grown from an average of 5.4 buyers to 6.8 in two years. These stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, verticals, and locations. Your account-based sales team will need to find the right people to talk to at the right stage of their buying journey. 

The fix

This is why you’ll need to leverage a target account and contact list. Rather than simply relying on a list of company names, begin to map out the buying committee and find a validated database to begin pulling contact data from. From there, you can have a full multi-touch approach to your accounts.

(RollWorks' database of 320 million contacts can help.)

3. Prioritizing Accounts Most Likely to Close

While having a target account list can feel like the final step in getting ABM off the ground, there’s actually much more you can do to scale your programs. Depending on the size of your list, there are naturally going to be some accounts that are a better fit for your offering than others. 

With that in mind, not all companies that fit your ICP should be treated equally. We know many marketing teams are already spread thin, so you’ll want to prioritize your resources and budget against accounts that are most likely to be customers.  

Since many teams have limited resources, scoring and prioritizing accounts is the best way to select which accounts deserve most of your attention and budget. For example, many advanced account-based teams run a 1:1, 1:Few, and 1:Many strategy where different accounts are prioritized based on propensity to close or value to the business. 

As you move from lead-scoring models to account-scoring models, RollWorks has the answers (aka the tech) to questions like: “Which accounts have a higher chance of converting into customers?”, “How should I tier my budget across accounts?”.“Are there any high-fit accounts I haven’t added to my list yet?”

The fix

Rely on the advancements in account-based technology with machine learning and the power of predictive models to score accounts and surface new account suggestions. By using the training data of your best customers today, account-based tech can now simplify the manual effort of scoring and tiering accounts. 

Here is what it can look like in a few simple steps:

Score your list

  • Upload a list of your best existing customers to supply the data needed to create a custom predictive model.
  • With the power of machine learning, create a predictive model and scores your target account list based on accounts more likely to close.
  • From there, you can begin to prioritize top-tier accounts—or—if you notice your distribution of high-grade accounts isn’t up to par, you can . . . 

Surface new accounts

  • Using your predictive model, opt for a tech stack that allows you to receive account suggestions for new accounts that are likely to close.
  • By adding these accounts to your list, you can enable your teams to go after more high-fit accounts (leading to better engagement, and ultimately, better chances of closing more deals)

From here, you can begin to make smart choices about the programs you run against your tiered account lists.

Bonus: Within RollWorks' account-based platform, top-scored accounts have shown 15x the engagement levels, such as unique website visits, compared to the lowest-scored accounts. 

4. Tearing Down the Walls of Siloed Data 

As we’ve talked about in the past, getting all teams on board with an account-based strategy can be a challenge for many marketers. A lot of this boils down to the difficulty of getting two teams who speak different languages on board with the same plan. But it’s actually a bit simpler than many account-based marketers have been led to believe.

Imagine if your sales team is working off one scored account list in Salesforce and your marketing team is serving ads to another audience in their account-based platform. It gets even more complex if you're looking to convey a shared ROI without the necessary tech.

If your teams are working with different data, it throws a wrench in key elements of successful ABM: coordinated plays and ROI.

The fix

Make sure you have the right integrations in place, including CRM and marketing automation. For example, with our Salesforce sync, you can view account insights directly in Salesforce, with dynamic, bi-directional syncs refreshed every 24 hours. Your account-based team can now work in harmony, leaving more time for them to get in front of their accounts and close deals faster.

What's Next?

Once you enable your  account-based team to overcome these common hurdles with the power of data and account-based tech, you'll be primed to get up and running with winning plays in no time. If you're ready to learn more about how you can build a strong target account list, request a demo today. 

About the Author

Caroline Van Dyke

Caroline is a seasoned B2B content strategist with a love for actionable storytelling that helps build brands and inspire buyers. With her own experience launching a start-up’s very first ABM program, she now focuses on helping teams leverage account-based strategies through content at RollWorks. When she’s not busy typing a million words a minute, she can be found getting overly competitive at trivia, hiking with her dog, or watching the latest standup special on Netflix.

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