Great ABM programs are slick, efficient, and high-value. They deliver a lot of bang for a relatively small amount of buck.


But you don’t get to this point without a lot of planning. You need to do the hard work upfront to make your life easier during execution.


Here are our three must-dos when planning an ABM campaign.


1. Involve sales upfront

ABM only succeeds with sales and marketing work in tandem and the sooner you start collaborating the better. Some marketers ignore sales in the early stages of their program but this is a mistake. You risk duplicating effort, or worse duplicating messages, which frustrates potential customers.


There are also a lot of major decisions to make before you start your program that require input from sales.


The first thing to consider are the goals of your initiative. Do you and your sales chief agree on what good looks like? Are you going to measure results in the same way? Do you agree on who you should be targeting?


The next big thing to consider is the process. The whole point of ABM is to close deals quickly through focused and efficient campaigns. This demands slick processes that unite sales and marketing and support a frictionless buyer journey. Communication is critical to keeping things on track. If sales and marketing aren’t constantly sharing data on challenges and opportunities then progress will stall and productivity will dip.


How Upsales gets everyone aligned:

  • We clearly defined the parameters of a marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead and conversion and share these definitions across our unified sales and marketing team.
  • To keep things on track, we hold short daily feedback check-ins on performance and lead quality to ensure we’re targeting the right accounts and optimizing every prospect’s path to purchase.


2. Know your ideal accounts

The basis of any good ABM campaign is a crystal clear understanding of target accounts. You may have your list already so feel free to skip this section but if not, then it’s time to get introspective. Ask yourself, what businesses do you want to work with above all others?


Often this isn’t just a case of homing in on the largest contracts. There are loads of factors to consider – your businesses long-term goals, your ideal customer profile, sales cycles, emerging markets, the list goes on and on.


Whatever your goal, it’s worth investing time in research at this stage in the ABM process. The more questions you answer now, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter down the line.


The next step is identifying the individuals you want to target. You may want to use personas here or job titles may suffice. It’s likely you’ll be targeting more than one person per account due to the nature of the typical B2B buying process and it’s worth looking beyond the buying team. The last thing you want is to lose a deal at the last minute because you completely ignored a key influencer.


Next, start pulling together contact data. This may be as simple as trawling your CRM but you’ll almost certainly have to look further afield. There’s no substitute for first-party data and it’s worth conducting manual desk research in-house, especially if you’re targeting a relatively small group of people.


If you do have to turn to a provider then make sure they’re trusted and reliable. ABM tends to deliver a high ROI so it’s worth investing in the very best data, providing you can afford it.


One final thing to consider is LinkedIn. You’ll almost certainly be able to reach all of the people you want to target through this channel and paid InMail can be a great way to capture their attention.


Once you’ve built out this list, you’ll want to make sure sales and marketing have the same deep understanding of each account and are aware of the plan of action – that way, regardless of when and where an individual interacts with your business, they’ll enjoy the same seamless experience.


How Upsales identifies its perfect prospects:

To separate our ideal accounts from other prospects we’ve narrowed down our targets to five specific attributes:

  • Sales velocity
  • Seniority of decision-makers
  • Deal size
  • Sweet spot
  • Organizational structure

– that way, we’re only targeting the accounts with the highest chances of success.

3. Hone your message

Now comes the tricky part – creating messages that will resonate with your target prospects.


The first step is learning more about your target businesses. Ideally, you want to understand their goals, their position within the market and their strengths and weaknesses.


The obvious starting point is their website, but this won’t tell you the full story. Analyst reports from the likes of Forrester and Gartner will provide greater insight and it’s worth reading financial reports if they’re public and available.


But the best way to get to the truth is to speak to people in their market – both their competitors and customers. It’s likely you already have some of these people in your network so consider getting in touch for a quick Q&A.


We can’t tell you what to include in your messages but in our experience, good ABM mailers tend to be short, informal and relevant. They demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to learn about their business and include a strong CTA, such a link to a relevant case study or customized offer.


How Upsales hones its message:

At Upsales we research our clients and really know what will resonate with them, then we craft messages around that research.


So there you have it – three ‘must dos’ when building an ABM campaign:


  • Get sales involved as early as possible
  • Know your target list inside out
  • Customize your message for each account

Get these foundational steps right and you’ll be primed for launch. Marketing and sales will be aligned, making it much easier to deliver a smooth and seamless buyer journey. You’ll be targeting businesses that are bang in your sweet spot, making it much easier to convert leads. And you’ll have the data you need to create customized messages that resonate with your audience.


Best of luck.


Looking to turn marketing into a revenue-generating machine? Read our eBook, ‘Five imperatives for revenue-focused marketers’, for tips on:


  • Choosing KPIs
  • Developing personas
  • Working with sales
  • Improving agility
  • Building the right martech architecture