What is your methodology for identifying the right company targets in an ABM strategy?
Work with your sales team!
You can use a lot of different tech and methods to identify target accounts, but if your sales team isn't bought in, you won't be successful.
I suggest using tools or conducting a TAM analysis to narrow down the list of potential accounts a tad small. Have the sales team participate in the account selection process. One of the most common mistakes I see people make is allowing their sales teams to pick companies like Verizon, ATT, Amazon etc. These companies are broken out into several lines of business and divisions. Sales should understand the account and where they'll break in.
If you are going to use digital channels, ensure you have a list large enough to meet audience size requirements on your preferred media partners.
Everything begins with “What are your business goals?” And I cannot emphasize this enough. If you have a marketing problem and don’t know where to start, ask yourself this question “What are the business objectives?” and go from there. You won’t go wrong.
Depending on whether the business wants to acquire new logos or expand into existing accounts, or focusing on competitive wins, you know where your ABM accounts are coming from.
Once the focus is clear, you can identify accounts based on size, vertical focus, existing tech stack (e.g. if already using a competitive product and your current focus is not on competitive wins, then drop) ICP, and even geo focus if your sales teams are aligned that way, to identify the right set of accounts.
There are so many ways to answer this question, depending on your GTM strategy and organization! The key, no matter the differences, it to be selective and targeted. There are likely many people you WANT to sell to, but who is most likely to actually become a Closed Won deal? That is where you need to focus. Focus is the key to success in ABM.
The best place to start is to have a clear understanding of your target market and its size. Are you a horizontal SaaS company that can sell to any IT Director at any company over $100M in revenue? Are you a vertical company with a finite market of only 20,000 accounts? Are you selling to developers at any size company for a very small dollar value? First, you have to understand your target market and use this as your total addressable market.
Once you have a TAM, you need to tier the accounts somehow. Are certain accounts, based on size, location, or other factors, more likely to have success with your product? Do you have data you can look at from past sales efforts that shows companies in a particular segment are closing at a higher rate than others? Focus here.
Then, build your scoring model. This is easiest to do with an ABM tool. Identify which accounts are showing intent, which have been on your website, which have engaged with marketing. Work with sales to build a model that makes sense to both of you, and tiers down. The biggest bucket should be at the top, and the smallest bucket of accounts should be at the bottom. Again, working with sales, identify at what point the accounts move from marketing to sales and should be targeted by different types of outreach and messaging.
Leveraging intent data, like what companies such as 6Sense, Qualified, and Demandbase offer, provides several key advantages to identifying the right company targets and more.
It allows your marketing and sales teams to proactively reach out to accounts showing purchase intent or exploring competitors, giving you a competitive edge. This is a no-brainer for today’s landscape. If you’re running paid ads without intent data, if you’re doing outbound without intent data, stop. Now. Call your CFO, CRO. Get the budget to get intent. It’s worth the pause to get it right. You’ll go faster in the end.
You can pinpoint your most effective activities and invest more in them to boost engagement. No more guesswork; you'll have concrete insights that drive action, especially with the help of AI.
It enables you to create highly personalized campaigns tailored to your buyers' specific needs and experiences, adding that extra personal touch to your marketing efforts.
I like to build target accounts lists WITH sales. It's a shared activity. I've used this framework often as a starting point.
Figure out your data sources
Develop your ICP
Scrub the data
Segment the list
Depending on the size of your TAM, you may want to establish a hierarchy of accounts. Something like this:
Account universe: every account in your TAM
Target account list: every account in your SAM
Segmented account lists (usually many): the accounts that receive your marketing
If this is asking how to identify the right target accounts, that is a collaboration between marketing and sales. This is a critical, foundational step when crafting a GTM ABM strategy.
The two biggest ABM missteps I see are -
marketing working in a silo on their own target account list
marketing just taking sales target account list and running with it
There should be a collaborative conversation between marketing and sales where sales brings their target account list and marketing brings intent data. While there will always be target accounts sales must breakthrough with to to make or break their quarter, marketing can bring other accounts to the table based off intent data. 6Sense recently shared that 78% of high-intent accounts they surface aren't in their client's CRM. Not even on their radar! That shows just how much potential revenue is missed if we go solely on sale's target accounts.
Intent data brought from marketing will also inform how we decide to prioritize the accounts within ABM tiers - 1:1, 1:Few and 1:Many.
Defining target accounts is a collaborative effort, especially with your sales and RevOps teams. This needs to be approached from the perspective that you are there to support the sales team. It isn’t an “us against them” scenario. Getting buy-in early is critical for a successful partnership and long-term success.
Know your total addressable market (TAM). It’s also critical that you give your ABM strategy enough time before evaluating results. This isn’t a strategy that you can test for a couple of weeks and come to a conclusion. You need to give this strategy enough time to run which at a minimum is one quarter.
Leverage intelligence tools such as Clearbit or 6sense to better identify target accounts who are visiting your website. This will allow you to further personalize the experience and speak to customers in a way that is meaningful to them.