It seems that everything we do today needs to be “smarter.” And why not? In today’s digital age, the amount of information available and tools we have to process that information are simply incredible. So what exactly does this mean for marketing?

Making Marketing Smarter with an Account-Based Approach

For us B2B marketers, getting “smarter” often means embracing an account-based marketing (ABM) approach. In a nutshell, this approach requires going after a defined list of target accounts who are more likely to become your customers because they fit certain criteria rather than casting a wide net and seeing which accounts bite. The goal is to personalize your outreach to these accounts as much as possible in order to improve your ability to close the deal and even increase the size of the deal.

The first step in getting started with ABM is to develop your list of target accounts. Although this step may be only the first of many you need to take to achieve the desired results, it is among the most critical, as that list will lay the foundation for all of the other activities that follow.

Building Your List of Target Accounts

Since your list of target accounts will guide all of your ABM activities, building this list is arguably one of the most critical pieces of program success. We can break down this list-building process into two core phases:

Identifying Criteria

Before you can even begin to decide which specific accounts you will target, you need to understand what type of accounts you’ll be best off going after. For example, you need to ask questions like:

In order to answer these questions and identify the criteria for your target accounts, you should use both quantitative and qualitative data. On the quantitative side, review your CRM database to identify patterns — both positive patterns across accounts you’ve won as well as negative patterns across accounts you’ve lost to identify any exclusion criteria. Meanwhile, on the qualitative side, speak directly with salespeople and any relevant members of your marketing team to get their take on where you typically do (or don’t) do well. This human insight should help make the quantitative data from your CRM system more well-rounded.

Considering Possible Accounts

Once you’ve determined your account criteria, you can begin to identify specific accounts that fit that mold. During this process, it’s important to consider a wide variety of options. It’s easy to go straight to current prospects or even organizations you’d like to prospect — as you should — but those accounts are only one piece of the puzzle.

In addition to current or possible prospects, you should also consider existing customers with opportunities for expansion as well as partners and organizations currently working with competitors. In general, if an organization fits your criteria and you believe you can add significant value, you have a strong case to add it to your list.

During this consideration process, you need to do extensive research into each account to determine how well they fit your criteria. Additionally, you should loop in relevant members of your marketing and sales teams here too in order to get feedback from frontline users who may have interacted with those accounts (or similar accounts) in the past.

Delivering Better Results

By taking the time to carefully define the criteria for your list of target accounts and then fully researching possible matches as you build out that list, you will lay a robust foundation for all ABM activities that will follow. In turn, doing so should help you deliver better results, including higher win rates and increased deal size.