One of the biggest mistakes we can make in marketing is to go after all prospects in the same way. Companies that understand this are embracing Account-Based Marketing [ABM] and are learning to look at their prospects through distinct lenses. For a long time, marketers have chosen to use outbound or inbound marketing exclusively. Whereas an outbound approach once took precedence, just in the last 15 years, we’ve seen the pendulum swing to inbound. It was believed that if you practiced any outbound in the past decade, you were seen as behind the times. However, I have always struggled with the all or nothing approach marketers took, as the key to success is an integrated plan of outbound and inbound strategies.
What is powerful about ABM is that marketing embraces the challenges that sales face—with the number one challenge being the pressure to hit their quotas. Sales reps often feel like marketing doesn’t understand the pressure they are under when all marketing is willing to focus on is inbound leads.
Net vs. Spear
Jon Miller of Engagio describes it well. He shares that traditional demand generation is like fishing with a net. He says, “You put your content out there and start catching fish. You don’t care what fish you catch, as long as you pull in enough of them every month. You then nurture them and score them until opportunities come out the other end.” But he says Account-Based Marketing is fishing with a spear. You don’t wait for a targeted account buyer to wander into your net. You reach out to target accounts directly—going after the big fish only.
We believe the magic happens when you divide your prospect list into both a spear approach and a net approach.
The Spear Approach
Marketing and sales work together to determine who the top 25-100 companies they believe are the best fit for them. This approach requires extensive research to understand the companies’ needs and why your company is a good solution for them. These prospects are the “whales” and will have the attention of your executive team. And to execute requires marketing, inside sales and outside sales all working together.
- Clear ROI
- Highly personalized
- Sales alignment
- Goals and measurement tracked clearly
The Net Approach
There are another group of prospects who you believe could be a good fit and you are willing to invest in nurturing them to see who rises to the top. This approach is usually for thousands of prospects. It is important to provide content that speaks to the industry trends, overall pain points of your targets and ideally would have persona level personalization. Marketing is driving the majority of effort for this approach with support from inside sales. Only getting outside sales involved when there is a lead that is “leaning forward.”
- Grows pipeline; ability to reach new markets
- Nurtures leads
- Builds brand awareness
- Positions company as a thought leader