What’s Trending in B2B Account Based Marketing

This spring was packed with big events in B2B sales and marketing, from TOPO Summit to Gartner Marketing Symposium, to SiriusDecisions Summit. There were a lot of valuable insights shared between experts, panelists, customers, and peers. So what did the leaders in today’s B2B world have to say about ABM, sales, marketing and the technologies that get your ABM to scale? Let’s break down each event and what the analysts point out as the big trends in 2019.

TOPO Summit

TOPO focuses on studying the best in class – companies who are leaders in the world of B2B. At this years summit, these leaders spoke about the most important topics in revenue, how to successfully scale your ABM efforts, and which technologies will help get you there.

An especially hot topic was Metrics – how to measure your ABM efforts by going beyond MQL’s. As the TOPO 2019 Account Based Benchmark Report explains, an account based measurement model focuses on tracking engagement across an entire account, not just on engaging individual leads. And this account based funnel is extremely efficient, vs the traditional funnel which often includes a high volume of unqualified prospects, allowing organizations to focus resources on just a portion of their addressable market so they can deliver significant pipeline and revenue impact.

There was also a lot of talk about how there is not a One Size Fits All approach to ABM. There will be varying levels of investment and personalization from 1:1 focus to ABM segments of thousands of accounts based on industry. Each organization has to look at their goals and come up with the right account based strategy for the entire GTM along with implementing the martech that fits your organization’s needs, enabling success.

And finally, TOPO Summit was abuzz with Making Brand Cool Again. In today’s world where everyone can create software, and there is always “an app for that”, companies are refocusing on more than just features. To excel in customer marketing, your brand has to connect with people. Values, leadership, customer community, roadmaps – those are the kinds of things that will make your brand resonate and truly create an experience that your customers and prospects want to be a part of.

Gartner Symposium

Distinguished Vice President of Gartner, Brent Adamson, stole this year’s show when he presented some very compelling research on marketing budgets, customer sentiment, and how buyers buy today.

It is probably not a shock that organizations are trying to do more with less. But what is interesting is how organizations are spending. When looking at Marketing Budgets, organizations are spending less on people, paid media, and agencies and significantly more on Martech. In fact, spending on marketing technologies was up 7% in 2018 vs 2017 and is still increasing. Brent laid out the top three marketing investment priorities over the next 18 months – Marketing and Customer Analytics takes the lead at 40%, followed by Marketing Technology Aquisition and Use at 34%, and last but not least Customer Experience at 30%.

With the implementation of marketing technology, it has become easier to personalize. But Personalization isn’t just about pop-ups that target a particular industry or persona, which can come off creepy. Instead, personalization is about providing help through the buying journey  getting the right information to the right person at the right time to help them make the right purchase decision for their organization. Helpful personalization includes things that teach your buyer, makes it easy for them to understand your product and service, and reassures your buyer with direct, no fluff content that they can take back to their buying team. By using predictive analytics and intent signals marketers know when to engage (timing) and, more importantly, how to engage using details on all previous interactions (content consumption, website visits, 3rd party research, keyword searches, etc.) which can help drive meaningful conversations with any member of the buying committee.

But even with all that personalized information available at the buyer’s fingertips, B2B buying is still really hard. Instead of one individual being responsible for the purchasing decision, there are now buying teams made up of 6-10 people who all work in parallel to find the right solution for their organization. And with this buying team comes an average of 4.5 information sources per stakeholder leading to 15% of the buying teams time spent on “de-conflicting” information. Because of this, 77% of buyers report high purchase difficulty.

So how can we help? By focusing on each persona’s buying job and providing the right content to help them complete that buying job, making the buyer’s journey easier and less frustrating. For example, if your buyer’s job is Problem Identification, you will want to give them tools such as industry benchmark reports, surveys, a cost/benefit calculator, and content that focuses on what other buyers are asking and looking to the industry to answer.

SiriusDecisions Summit

This year at SiriusDecisions Summit, the analysts were focused on revenue operations – the strategic integration of sales, marketing, and service departments to provide a better end-to-end view to administration and management, while leaving day-to-day processes within the departments. This holistic approach is designed to break down silos between departments and create a more unified organization.

With only 13% of marketing organizations having confidence in their data, Revenue Ops leaders are looking to invest in things like B2B analytics. With the right vendor and the right data, B2B insights pros, marketers, sales, and customer success teams can gain more visibility into customer journeys. The Forrester Wave: B2B Customer Analytics, Q1 2019 report names the top vendors who arm revenue teams with the guidance and automation required to make significant strides toward personalized experiences at scale, with analytics and insights being key drivers of success. It is important that revenue teams are aligned with data they can trust so that they can generate more opportunities, increase deal size, get into opportunities sooner and win more often.

While it is too soon to tell if revenue ops will become mainstream, we at 6sense love this approach and have taken it with our own organization.

ABM – It’s Just Good Marketing. In the opening slide of the Future Vision Session at SD Summit, it was stated that “In 5 years the term ABM will no longer be used; it will just be the way leading b2b organizations identify, manage, and measure buying and post-sale motions.” The slide went on to say “the connection of data insights and AI to deliver relevant hyper-personalized messages ethically and with a purpose establishes an account-based approach as the de-facto go forward marketing and sales aligned approach.”

That’s right – SiriusDecisions said it and here at 6sense we are behind it. With challenges such as buyers no longer taking calls from sellers and B2B email open rates continuing to decline, ABM is becoming table stakes. Organizations need to look beyond ABM and start thinking about Account Based Orchestration, powered by AI so revenue teams can uncover anonymous buying behavior, prioritize actions to focus on accounts in market, and engage resistant buying teams with personalized, omni-channel, multi-touch campaigns.

With all of this big data uncovering demand, targeting, and personalization, Data Collection, Privacy, and Security is at the top of everyone’s mind. It seems like breaches happen every day and new laws are being passed to limit the use of data, making it a confusing time. Trust is critical currency and buyers want to know that vendors are doing everything they can to protect their data and rights to privacy. The session on GDPR and Security at SiriusDecisions summit was sold out, proving what a hot topic this is and that your organization should be doing what they can to reassure customers and prospects that their data is safe in your hands.

It is critical to know and understand the trends in B2B ABM for your organization to be successful. Leading analysts are doing the research and presenting their findings, making it easier for you to align your ABM strategy to the buyer journey. And with one platform that can address each trend, revenue teams are unified, enabling them to know everything they need to know so they can do anything they need to do to complete and win in the age of account based buying.


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