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Demand generation powered by people: the future of effective account based marketing (Part 3)

Paul Stacy

In the third and final instalment of his assessment of Account Based Marketing (ABM), Paul Stacey, Head of BNZSA UK, considers the necessity for quality data and appropriate human intervention in successful ABM.

Let’s not kid ourselves, ABM is difficult

A truism is that not all ABM campaigns are created – or executed – equally. Indeed, some are definitely more equal than others. Don’t be confused by having a TAL. That’s not really Account Based Marketing. ABM is personalising tactics to the account and targeting only those accounts that matter. 

Very often organisations do the targeting but not the personalisation. Relying on flooding the internet and social platforms with ads or hiding behind unsolicited email is a sure way to fail.

You can have all the delivery tools in the world, but ABM is utterly dependent on data – and the quality of that data.

You need quality data to select the right account, and quality data to personalise to that account. You can’t personalise if you don’t know who you’re communicating with. Online and offline, ABM requires data to be able to personalise.

Your data needs to be both demographic and behavioural. Who are your prospects and what are they doing? Can you understand what they care about and what problems they are trying to solve? Get this right and deliver valuable insights and solutions, and you’re getting there.

The smartest companies are able to combine every piece of first-party data gleaned from multiple channels – online, social, webinar, events, media etc. When combined with strong third-party data, an organisation can establish a single view of what every account and every known individual within that account is doing.

In my opinion, very few organisations can do this. Some claim to. Others want to. But only few can.

Smart companies also use data to re-target within and across multiple channels. They also use smart scoring models to track engagement and convert leads from MAL to MQL at just the right time. But be wary of self-fulfilling prophecies. If you re-target a small audience, they will over index on engagement and you’ll get false positive leads.

Demand generation powered by people

So, you’re a smart company. You have your well-oiled multi-channel market plan in place.  You’ve nailed your scoring. Congratulations! How are you converting leads? 

Ultimately, unless you’re selling a solution with very low consideration and a short sales cycle someone actually has to speak to the client or prospect at varying points during the cycle. I wholeheartedly believe in the principle of Demand Generation Powered by People.

As mentioned in the first article in this series, traditional ways of meeting prospects and nurturing relationships is out the window. But that doesn’t mean conversations can’t be had. They just need to be by phone or video conference. Indeed, the very nature of how we work today may offer greater opportunities for the personal touch. People are more captive at their desk at home today than ever before. And with a greater sense of physical isolation, staying connected with the outside world is particularly appealing to many of us – your clients included.

But this requires intelligence and a relational approach. It also raises a number of questions:

  • When do you speak to the prospect in their journey?
  • Who speaks to the prospect?
  • How do you know what to speak to prospect about?
  • How engaged does someone have to be before they get a call?
  • Is it right for phone calls only to be at the end of the customer journey? 
  • Should it be “we notice that you are interested in,” or “is there anything we can help with?”

There’s no hard and fast rule here. It truly depends on the campaign you’re running and your relationship with the client – but the personal touch is essential for successful Account Based Marketing.

The simple fact is that personalisation through digital alone is hard. Even with the best DCO solution it’s hard and expensive.

Good agents beat bad digital; good agents complement good digital. In short, every ABM campaign should involve humans.

So, can an organisation scale and engage at the right point in the customer journey? Yes, but to do so you need the right data to determine when to engage at the right time, coupled with the human capital to support the outbound calls. Humans can identify bad data, rescue poor leads and convert good leads in a way that machines can’t.

Lead qualification is a good example of using people early in an ABM journey, while BDRs are good example of using them at the end.

I’ll say it again, my mantra is Demand Generation Powered by People because I believe that the best demand generation campaigns are personal.  

ABM is no longer an alternative B2B strategy. It feels like it’s the only one that matters.

To summarise

  • Account Based Marketing is the only true approach to B2B marketing today – especially for complex solution selling for IT companies operating at significant scale.
  • The key is to marry the right software to your data and to your people. But don’t be sold on the notion that tech alone can deliver your ABM for you.
  • It’s essential that people are involved at the appropriate point – or points – in your customer’s journey with you.
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