Account-based marketing (ABM) is transforming the B2B marketing and sales world because of its effectiveness in reaching high-value target accounts — but it's a difficult strategy to manage.
ABM has a lot of moving parts that need to move as a synchronized whole to bring success to your organization.
Fortunately, like any aspect of marketing, ABM is made easier with strategic planning.
Starting with your goals and mapping out a targeted plan is key to building an effective ABM campaign.
Here, we'll break down the steps of how to put ABM mapping into practice within your organization and implement the right process to make it happen.
What is Account Mapping?
Account mapping involves selecting and organizing the accounts targeted within an ABM program.
After establishing goals, the next and arguably most critical step to ensuring a successful ABM campaign is selecting and mapping the accounts.
Once accounts have been selected and mapped, the sales and marketing team can build their engagement strategy and ensure both sides maximize their alignment.
How to Get Started With Account Mapping
Account mapping is an exercise in account research and documenting details that will be useful as you target an account on your journey to a successful close.
Here are the four main steps you'll need to take when account mapping:
1. Identify Key Decision Makers and Influencers
After identifying what accounts to target through account planning, the next step is digging into the account to understand the organizational structure and how decisions are made. Starting with the top person in a functional area is an excellent place to begin mapping the functions.
The larger the account, the tougher this task, as many large organizations operate in a matrix environment where influence comes from many directions.
Nonetheless, sourcing these contacts and documenting their Buyer Role using HubSpot or alternative system of record will allow you to track and manage information related to each contact. This will also improve your ability to create unique experiences as a part of your ABM program.
It's essential to consider buyer roles as it relates to the buying process, not a functional title.
Buyer roles to be considered include:
- Decision Maker
- Budget Holder
- Legal & Compliance
Depending on the goods/service sold and the operational impact it may have in the account, there may be a need to expand the roles to meet the specific needs of the account, so you can edit or add new roles as needed.
Using tools such as LinkedIn or ZoomInfo can be helpful when researching an account and the key contacts within the account. Using the Buying Role Property within HubSpot is a great way to align your account intelligence to the contacts within the account.
During your research, you may find that one contact has multiple roles, so you can assign them accordingly as well as assign multiple contacts to the same role.
2. Gather Intel and Align Content
Understanding an account's needs and pain points is an important input to your ABM engagement strategy. Whether it's for content alignment or sales outreach, align relevant communications to each stage of the buyer's journey.
While getting direct intelligence through discovery calls is an excellent way to explore account needs, you should use a wide range of sources to gather as much information as possible to fill any gaps.
Social listening, search intent, press releases, and Google Alerts are all great resources to leverage for information that can be used to gain insights into future account needs. Once well-documented, these insights can be used to map marketing content and sales playbooks to ensure each interaction with the account is meaningful.
3. Engage and Learn
Develop a plan for how and when you will engage the target account. Using a playbook for both sales and marketing engagement plans can help standardize the approach you take and identify points within the process that are working well or areas that need improvements.
Depending on where the account is within the sales cycle when you implement the ABM strategy, the engagement approach may vary. Targeting with account-based advertising may be an excellent first step to warm up the accounts if starting with cold accounts.
Many platforms can enable ABM advertising; however, using HubSpot's Company List and its LinkedIn Ads integration provides a seamless introduction into account-based advertising without leaving HubSpot.
4. Document How Decisions are Made
Throughout the research and documentation process, you've been collecting data that will be useful for both marketing and sales teams. As you seek to advance the engagement process, direct outreach to contacts within the account will be required. Be sure to add value and use best practices to improve the quality of this interaction so that it's a seamless and valuable experience for the prospect.
You have been gathering account intelligence through the planning process, so now it's time to put those activities to work. Before reaching out, utilize LinkedIn or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to research the contact. Using the outreach activities to fill data and intelligence gaps will help improve future interactions and engagements.
Of the things you need to learn, understanding who will influence the purchasing decision is high on the list. It's also helpful to know how the company makes a purchasing decision and their process of awarding a contract. Ensure that you're gathering these details effectively by recording information in your CRM under the deal, company, and contact records.
Account Mapping Software
There is a long list of software applications that can assist with the account mapping process. The good news is that a lot can be done with free tools, many of which are commonly used within both small and large sales and marketing organizations.
Below is a short list of free and premium tools, along with a brief description that will get you started with ABM Mapping.
HubSpot is the centralized marketing platform that helps sales and marketing leaders execute marketing campaigns. HubSpot provides a set of tools that helps keep an ABM-centric campaign, which enables greater transparency between sales and marketing teams when compared to disparate systems.
Cost: Freemium to Paid
The king of professional networking within a digital environment has become a dream tool for sales and marketing professionals. When targeting specific accounts, LinkedIn is a great free resource. In addition to general account research, LinkedIn also is a great integration partner for three of their paid services, which can be invaluable to ABM.
- LinkedIn Ads
- Sales Navigator
- LinkedIn InMail
Cost: Varies depending on tools/service used.
From prospecting to buyer intent, ZoomInfo is an excellent resource for finding and tracking companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). In addition to identifying the account, they provide a comprehensive set of products that offer deeper account insights, including organizational charts. ZoomInfo is also a HubSpot integration partner, which makes working with the tool seamless.
Cost: Free Trial to Premium
If you are seeking to take action on Buyer Intent, 6sense provides solutions that improve the transparency into the buyer's intent using AI. It captures signals across a wide variety of channels and connects it to prospect accounts.
When moving into the engagement stage of an ABM campaign, these tools provide the ultimate reach and scale.
Cost: Paid (Contact 6sense for pricing details)
ABM mapping can be an effective process to help sales and marketing teams navigate complex account structures. While there are great tools that provide helpful insights, the mapping process is robust and tends to be manual.
An important part of the planning process will be to gain buy in from your internal team and properly assign team members who will be part of the research and documentation process so that your organization will have access to centralized information about your target accounts and contacts within them.
The payoff can be well worth the work if you take the proper steps while developing a focused account-based marketing strategy.