How Data Can Improve ABM Account Selection

January 30, 2017 Brandon Redlinger

Account-based marketing and sales strategies are all the hype these days, but many revenue teams are struggling with how to get started. With so many people talking about implementing new programs, with so many different strategies, who can blame them for being confused?

There are many experts (along with numerous armchair generals) dispensing great information on advanced tactics, but the truth is if you don’t build the right foundation, the strategy is never going to work. If sales and marketing aren’t aligned, the results will never come. If you don’t have the right team or structure, you’ll be waiting forever. If you don’t use data and select the right accounts, you’re doomed to fail.

Launching into Hyper Growth with Data

Still not convinced? Here’s why using data to fuel your Account Based Everything (ABE) rocket can be the difference between your sales lifting off or crashing down.

Increased Average Contract Value (AVC) with Company Insights

Sam Laber, Director of Marketing at Datanyze said it well:

“You’re only going to have the bandwidth to effectively work a certain number of accounts. And if you pick the wrong ones, you’re going to be wasting your team’s time on leads that won’t amount to anything.”

Having the right data points gives you the ability to scientifically choose the right accounts with the highest likelihood to write checks…much larger checks. And don’t forget about land-and-expand opportunities. Studies show that better data leads to better account selection, which results in a 35-40% higher average contract value (ACV) for each account that closed.

The two big types of data you’ll need to draw better company-level insights are firmographics (what company characteristics best predict a successful sales process?) and Technographics (what technologies do they currently use or are looking to invest in?). Start there.

Pro tip: Check out Datanyze's new Technographics Guide for information on how you can utilize this powerful data set.

Shortened Sales Cycles with Insights on Contacts

Another important part of account selection is finding the right people at said account. You must understand the contacts at your target account, and their place on the organizational chart, their personal goals, their relative decision-making authority, etc. Together, this data allows you to navigate the org chart more effectively, and get to the right people faster while not spending energy with time-wasters.

Specifically, you’ll need to know your contact's: 

  • Account affiliation

  • Title

  • Tenure

  • Decision-making hierarchy

  • Activity/engagement history

  • Experience with your category

Armed with this data, you can build a metric for “influence” into your buyer personas. This helps you understand how deals will actually get done. Getting this right will streamline your ABM program and could cut sales cycles by as much as 50%.

More Deals Closed with Market Insights

With the right accounts and the right contacts, you now must deliver relevant business insights. According to 75% of executives in an ITSMA study, even unsolicited material is welcome by prospects when it contains ideas that might be relevant to their business.

To organize your ABE plays effectively, you need to know everything that’s going on outside of the traditional firmographics and contact data. You’ll need data on:

  • The target’s market

  • SWOT analysis of the target company

  • The relationships inside the account

  • Your connections to the account

This data can inform your ABE strategy on which pieces are most relevant to each particular account and to whom the most personalized outreach should be tailored. These relevant insights lead to credibility and trust, which leads to more deals.

From Idea to Execution: How We Select Accounts

Now it’s time to look at how to apply this. We’re going to dive into how we select, tier and target the right accounts. We’ll look under the hood and give you a glimpse of Engagio’s revenue team engine.

How to Select Your Target Accounts

We practice what we preach, so target account selection for Engagio is a rigorous process. On a high level, we define three funnels:

  • Funnel 1 consists of Target Accounts
  • Funnel 2 contains Qualified but Non-Target Accounts
  • Funnel 3 is made of all other accounts.

The Targets Accounts are chosen by the individual account executives–with marketing providing firmographic data and a definition of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).  Funnel 2 represents all the accounts that are in our ICP but are not selected as Target Accounts.

The Target Accounts (Funnel 1) are further broken out into three tiers: each account executive selects roughly five, Tier 1 accounts, 45 Tier 2 accounts, and 150 Tier 3 accounts. These tiers are important because they identify how we will treat each account:

  • Tier 1 – These accounts get the “full” Account Based Everything treatment – deep research, a customized account plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and lots of one-to-one attention.  

  • Tier 2 – These accounts also get individual research, but perhaps it’s limited to a few key talking points for each account. These accounts may not get completely personalized plays and custom content, but they should still get highly relevant touches based on their industry and persona.

  • Tier 3 – This style covers all the accounts that you want to target but don’t have the resources for personalization and customization. ITSMA calls this Programmatic ABM. It’s basically traditional marketing with account-level targeting. The key difference from demand gen is that instead of scoring leads, you track account-level engagement and wait until the account hits a sufficient threshold to label them a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA).

After you select accounts you need to map out the players inside each account. Engagio sells to six key personas, so it was our goal to identify the individuals that represent those key personas inside each target account. We used various data and predictive vendors, and popular online directories to help us with this. Once we have the accounts and contacts, we use our own tool (ABM Analytics) to understand key engagement metrics inside each account.

Identify Your Insight Resources

You’re going to have to spend some money to be really good at Account Based Everything. But that’s business 101 – you have to spend money to make money. It will be well worth the price because these are your “whale accounts.” Where traditional demand gen feeds you and your family for a few days, hunting whales with ABM feeds your entire village for a year. A whale account could be 50X the size, but I guarantee you that it isn’t 50X harder to close. Tweet: A whale account could be 50X the size, but I guarantee you that it isn’t 50X harder to close. @Engagio @Datanyze #AccountBasedEverything

Insight generation has to be somebody’s job or it’s nobody’s job. Consider these tips:

  • Incentivize your reps–compensate your SDRs on insight collection metrics, or run a SPIF.

  • Hire offshore talent–utilize offshore resources to complete and enrich your insight base. Use a resource like Mechanical Turk to assign repetitive tasks. We leverage Upwork quite often, and have trained an offshore army, ready at a moment’s notice.

  • Contact 3rd party vendors that specialize in collecting insights on companies and people (vendors like BAO or Salesify).

  • Purchase data– buy whole org charts, company info and persona insights (we use Datanyze), CRUSH reports (from Avention, note: for IT only); Sales triggers and insights (Agent3) – see our Account Based Everything Market Map for a complete list of all ABE vendors.

As you can see, getting an ABE program up and running properly has a lot of moving parts, and data is crucial in the account selection process. But the role of data goes far beyond the account selection process. It’s a part of every step along the way in your ABE journey. That’s why we teamed up with Datanyze to bring you a webinar titled How To Use Data To Drive Account Based Everything Success.

Join Jon Miller, CEO and Co-founder of Engagio, and Daniel Barber, VP of Sales at Datanyze, as they discuss using data to support ABE success. Hope you can join us! 

Featured Image Source: Sea Ocean Jumping Spray USA Mammal Humpback Whale by CC0 pxhere

About the Author

Brandon Redlinger

Brandon Redlinger runs Growth at Engagio. He has been in sales and marketing his entire career, leading teams across the country from NYC to Denver to the San Francisco Bay Area. In his spare time, you will find him buried in a book, hitting the gym or on an adventure exploring the world. You can follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Lee_09.

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