With so much coverage now, writing an article on Account Based Marketing (ABM) felt akin to asking your grandmother to suck eggs (She doesn’t? Well she should. Run an ABM programme on her…).
Everyone’s ABM’ing it, we have Heads of ABM, ABM specialists, ABM Teams, ABM agencies (yup, guilty as charged). Supposedly ABM – or Key Account Marketing in its previous guise – was invented back in the early 2000’s to bring Sales & Marketing closer, but I’d argue the first caveman was ABM’ing it. Nurturing and ‘pre-suading’ his cave-neighbour to swap some freshly killed mammoth meat for some fish. The closing sales’ tactic may have been a club to the head; just a very direct influencer technique.
ABM is simply clever, strategic selling. Back in the 1980’s an old (retired) sales professional recounted to me how he would carefully research new prospects to dig out not just their professional motivations, but also their personal passion – so for example a cricket fan – before going into meet them. Within 5 minutes of meeting the prospect he’d apologise that his shoulder was hurting from bowling on Saturday… and boom, their relationship started. ABM in poetic 1980’s motion. Cue Axel F.
A Beautiful Mess (nearly)
ABM is a brilliant sales methodology for sellers. And also for recipients; the timely provision of relevant information and insight fed into tools, features, benefits, solutions, points of view they may have a need for, exactly when they need it, is hugely helpful and time-saving.
However during a recent campaign of our own, I stumbled across THE ultimate cardinal sin of ABM!
I was on a (requested) call when I let the laser-targeted prospect know that he had been part of JPC’s own ABM focus. ‘Proof is always in the pudding’ being my point.
Rather than respond ‘wow, that is amazing let me buy everything you have in your ABM shop’ there was a brief 3-second silence before we continued.
And it suddenly dawned on me; we may be happy to use ABM as our own clever sales strategy, but not many people want to actually know they have been ‘caught’ or ‘influenced’ by it as we like to think we are still the ones ultimately in control. Perhaps we still have a deep-rooted Caveman fear of not being snared or crept up on. And whilst ABM removes the needs for many other more dubious sales approaches, it must be handled with caution. Or you never know, your prospects may revert to the club approach.
Footnote: the prospect is now a happy client but rather like online dating, we tend to not mention where we first met…
JPC are a strategic communications agency who ‘Make the complex, compellingly simple.’ We specialise in Building Brands, ABM, Sales Enablement, Winning Bids and Creating Customer Experiences. Please contact Nick Pearce for more information; firstname.lastname@example.org