Refining ABM: Why it’s time to bridge the global regional divide

A core tenet of successful Account Based Marketing is the seamless alignment between sales and marketing, creating an attractive, integrated buying experience for target  customers.

Despite their best efforts however, many organisations still  find customers ‘falling through the cracks’ on their way down the funnel. But how does this happen? Especially if the ABM programme has been meticulously planned to optimise every  step of the customer’s entire journey?

Seeblue Managing Partner Orla Murphy believes this is caused, not by a lack of cooperation across sales and marketing functions, but by a disconnect between global and regional marketers. Read on for her own expert insights.

ABM strategy

Focussing on the current state of ABM, a recent Terminus survey revealed that 92% of respondents found internal sales and marketing alignment vital  in activating a successful go-to-market strategy.

In some of the larger organisations however, marketing teams are going further with their ABM efforts by aligning with all customer-facing touchpoints.

Account Based Experience, or ‘ABX’, is a customer-value led approach to demand creation and acquisition. This approach spans marketing, business development, sales, and customer success, with a smattering of the right marketing technology to aid account segmentation, targeting and execution.

This is the goal for many businesses, but in my own experience, it’s not what I see playing out in real life.

Centralised decision-making

In the majority of businesses I’ve worked for and with, any decisions on large strategic programmes or technology investment decisions are generally made at a global level. This making complete sense for commercial economies of scale, operational efficiencies and management.

Consequently, with budgets being held centrally, MarTech vendors of course will have a laser focus on CMOs and global marketing leaders – after all, they hold the purse strings and sign off on such purchases.

Agencies and consultancies are brought in to define the global ABM strategy, implement the technology and get programmes running – and global marketing leaders want to see a strong ROI on their investment.

But, with the exception of huge global accounts, real marketing and sales engagement with target accounts doesn’t actually  happen at a global level.

Instead, it takes place within local markets and regions.

ABM – overlooked at the regional level

Despite the obvious benefits of having ‘on-the-ground’ marketers to execute personalised account engagement activities, tailor account and regional specific content and support sales enablement, regional marketers can often instead find themselves disconnected from ABM and relegated to event management.

Because of this, disconnected from where the ‘rubber meets the road’, Global ABM owners can unintentionally end up using expensive ABM platforms for account selection and top of funnel ad management.

With 36% of companies in 2020 highlighting that a lack of internal resources hindered their ABM strategies, it’s clear that there’s a disconnect in the implementation process.

In these cases, working in partnership  with regional and field marketing counterparts is as important as partnering across functions.

Common themes in global vs. regional ABM execution

Having spoken to many EMEA and regional marketing leaders – and indeed several in global roles too – about ABM, these are the common themes emerging from nearly every conversation:

  • Account-Based Marketing is often considered to be a global programme, with regional teams somewhat disconnected from the development and execution of the ABM strategy.
  • Decisions about how to run ABM and the implementation of ABM platforms and marketing technology are taken centrally and, beyond initial consultation, many regional marketers don’t have much input or influence into how these programmes are supporting their regional objectives and priorities.
  • Regional teams input to the initial scoping phase but then become the recipients of a global campaign output, and can feel quickly disconnected from the global strategy, prioritisation and activation plan.
  • Global execution struggles to reflect the wider strategic or business priorities within an account or indeed the macro-economic conditions within their core markets.

Whilst organisations have adapted their digital ABM strategy with accuracy and speed on a global level following the pandemic, it’s simply not enough without sufficient regional  marketing input.

Usually, this  is what’s leading to below-par conversion of key accounts. This is because customer touch-points are not optimised for a regional or ‘local’ experience, meaning engagement isn’t lasting – and therefore, destined to fail.

ABM platforms & funnel stages

When it comes to ABM platforms, most can be broadly categorised into two camps:

1. those enhancing sales intelligence e.g. account prioritisation and propensity scoring.
2. those enhancing personalised marketing execution at scale.

In my view, whatever camp you’re in, these ABM platforms are most effective at top and mid-funnel account activation.

That however leaves a gap at the bottom of funnel – often meaning there’s no clear activation plan for regional execution. So, when Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs ) are handed to Business Development Reps (BDRs), what happens then? And how different is this to the days of showering Sales with poor quality MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and demanding why they haven’t been followed up?

That disconnect and lack of a clear activation plan can result in the momentum being lost within the account. And, unfortunately, in the minds of the sales team, this can result in ABM being ‘pigeon holed’ as just the latest (failed) marketing campaign or tactic.

How to bridge the divide

Bridging that global regional ABM divide is imperative in order to achieve the full potential of an account-based strategy.

So, what can you do to build and maintain that bridge?

Firstly, if you align with the very notion of ABM being about collaboration, then ensure that collaboration is consistent and structured within functions, as well as across functional units.

Agree priorities, activation plans, channels and budgets for both global and regional execution.

Remember to review KPIs, performance and qualitative insights together  monthly and leave these reviews with clear actions and owners.

Analyse all of your data sources (owned, managed and 3rd party) and make sure to convert it into actionable insight!

Where 3rd party intent data solutions are utilised, there’s a knowledge gap the intent data doesn’t fill – this is knowledge about the account’s business, strategic and technology priorities, the language and terminology they use, and their tone of voice. Taking the time to connect that keyword intent with these insights to craft a clear value proposition and solutions alignment will help deliver high relevancy and engagement.

Lastly, as probably one of the most important points in ensuring a successful ABM strategy at all levels:

Have sales activation or enablement high on your list of focus areas. Equip sales with the right messages and content to keep the conversation going with decision makers, internal champions and technical users – in the case of enterprise sales cycles, this can be over six months, even with intent showing.

Conclusion

Whether on a global or regional level, it’s important to remember that ABM simply does not work if internal teams across the board are unaligned and unsupportive.

By integrating regional teams’ input when it comes to global ABM strategy creation, organisations can better optimise every step of the customer’s entire journey.

Need help creating a winning ABM strategy? Get in touch.

About Seeblue

Seeblue Marketing is a specialist marketing consultancy for tech sector businesses. We are a team of specialists with over 40 years of direct experience driving growth in world-class blue-chip companies. We now apply our knowledge and deep understanding of B2B marketing to working with SME’s and scaling technology businesses.

2560 1592 Orla Murphy
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