Perspectives from ISB

Panelist: Prof. Piyush Kumar, Associate Professor of Marketing at Terry College of Business, University of Georgia
Prof. D.V.R. Seshadri, Clinical Professor of Marketing at Indian School of Business and Shivina Kumar, Senior Brand & Communications Manager at
Date: October 22, 2020
Time: 6 – 7 PM
Compiled by Minal Agarwal, Manager ISB-CBM

Technological innovation and social media have paved a new way for marketing. There is a plethora of data available with the companies to trace and track the thought process of customers who may be individuals and organisations. Based on the historical behavior of customers it has become possible for companies to predict the future course of action as well as to take corrective measures on a real-time basis.

Companies have, however, indiscriminately started bombarding their buyers with information that many customers do not appreciate. They, therefore, end up spending a huge amount on marketing, without obtaining commensurate results.

Traditionally, marketing focuses on generating a large number of leads through various marketing campaigns, hoping that some of those leads will get converted eventually into customers and profitable customer accounts. The leads that show interest are then passed on to the sales team to take the process forward towards the goal of converting them into customers. Indeed, some of these leads are converted into customers, while a significant proportion is not converted into customers. This approach is called funnel-based marketing where the focus is to fill up the funnel with as many leads as possible.

ABM on the other hand is a strategy where the funnel is flipped. This allows companies to weed out potentially inconsequential and unpromising accounts at an early stage and concentrate resources on specific accounts that align with the supplier firm’s strengths. ABM makes sure that resources are not wasted on potentially unproductive accounts.

ABM allows companies to focus on their high-value accounts with personalized communication, campaign, and content at every stage of their journey, leveraging the power of current digital technologies. These converted customer accounts help in acquiring more customer accounts through referrals.

The following are the steps for implementing ABMin organisations:
1. Identify the companies which are the best fit for the supplier firm’s products and offerings
2. Conduct research for the supplier firm’s targeted customer needs, pain points, and the stage that they are in their customer journey
3. Create an account scoring model in a quantitative way to prioritize the target companies by putting a set of criteria in place
4. Based on the above understanding, design a customized marketing campaign that resonates with the targeted account
5. Deliver consistent customer experience to build long-term relationships
6. Measure and analyse the performance of the marketing campaigns

It is, however, not easy to just flip the funnel and start doing ABM. Inbound marketing and ABM should run simultaneously to ensure ABM efforts and investments are successful. Inbound marketing lays the foundation for ABM by identifying the target account and then ABM can build on it. It is therefore not an ‘either/or’ choice.

Companies need to ensure following measures for implementation of ABM successfully:
• It is important that all the departments in an organisation work in tandem and have a buy-in for rolling out ABM in the organisation.
• There should be good alignment between Marketing and Sales department for success of ABM. There should be openness to share data and research findings between various departments.
• Companies need to invest in the right tools and technology for implementing ABM successfully.
• All the team members must be prepared to work as part of a new organizational structure.
• They should be familiarized and trained for using new tools
• Teams need to set realistic targets relating to implementation of ABM

ABM helps improve all three financial parameters: better Return on Investment (ROI), low cost of customer acquisition and increase in profitability.

ABM helps organisations in reducing 50% of their sales spend by improving conversion rate. Studies have shown that there is a 67% more likelihood of leads getting converted and 35% higher retention of customers by implementing ABM.

ABM has become vital and every supplier firm that seeks to win in today’s world must attempt to understand and implement it.