Three Areas Where Tech Companies Are Making Mistakes in Account Based Marketing Strategy

Published on

Last year was tough for almost everyone. Economically, the U.S.—and the rest of the world—certainly faltered. And while many companies’ financial situations have improved in 2021, no one truly knows what next year will bring. Though the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, has predicted that real GDP in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of this year will be 7.4 percent higher than Q4 2020, other economists aren’t so upbeat. Some, in fact—including those at Goldman Sachs Group Inc—expect a lagging recovery in consumer spending, coupled with continued supply chain challenges, to slow the nation’s economic growth well into 2022.

Recessions and other disruptions can make landing new business harder for technology companies as their target markets tighten organizational budgets. Fortunately, account-based marketing, or ABM, is a focused approach to business-to-business sales that technology leaders can still use to gain an edge against their competition even in uncertain pandemic times. If, that is, they don’t make one of these three mistakes.

Mistake 1: Targeting Accounts Based on Past Market Potential

Many companies changed the way they do business dramatically in 2020 and 2021—and technology enabled a lot of those changes. In fact, a McKinsey Global Survey of executives found that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitization of customer interactions by three years in North America and Europe. It also forced organizations to make structural and internal changes, moving some employees to remote work and, in some cases, doing away with physical workspaces entirely.

The aforementioned McKinsey report revealed that 93 percent of companies surveyed experienced an increase in remote work and collaboration. Fifty-four percent of those organizations expect this change to remain long-term. Advanced technologies were increasingly adopted by 37 percent of surveyed businesses, with 50 percent expecting the trend to continue. Another 37 percent reported increased spending on data security during the pandemic, and 53 percent expect to dedicate a larger percentage of their budgets to this need long-term.

Additionally, industries that were previously less tech-reliant were forced to embrace technology in order to meet changing consumer needs and satisfy government stay-at-home orders and pandemic restrictions. According to analysts, these industries include healthcare, education, manufacturing, retail, and even food service.

Emissary, a human intelligence network for enterprise sellers and marketers, suggests that tech companies should not make the mistake of choosing targets until they refresh their prospect lists accordingly. This may mean approaching organizations in industries you’ve never had success with before as well as looking for verticals and clusters who are now likely to need your solutions even if they weren’t ready a few years ago.

Allen Mueller, CEO of Emissary, explains, “Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to ABM. Identifying the key messaging that appeals to your prospect organization is an important first step in developing a successful one-to-one ABM campaign. You need to know who to target, and more importantly, what to target them with to be successful.”

Mistake 2: Ignoring Recent Changes to Buyer Roles When Choosing Executives to Engage With

Since the government mandated shutdowns of early 2020, many companies are doing more with less due to layoffs and employees who chose to leave the workforce until the pandemic is over. The executives who used to make decisions about tech purchases at their organizations may no longer be employed there. In fact, according to a report by The Conference Board, a nonpartisan nonprofit think tank, the average rate of CEO succession alone was 11.6 percent in the second half of 2020.

It’s also possible that the executives your team used to approach have experienced a change in their role or have been absorbed by cross-functional buying committees. Either way, the experts at Emissary suggest that tech sellers consider these alterations when structuring their ABM strategy. This may mean updating persona definitions to reflect new responsibilities and pain points as well as decision-making hierarchies.

It may also mean expanding the list of targets your sellers pursue at any particular company to better engage all likely buying influencers. This should include non-technical contacts as well. According to Emissary, their research has shown that 85 percent of recent technology decisions included a non-tech buyer playing a significant role.

Mistake 3: Focusing Solely on Your Targets’ Immediate Needs

In 2020, many organizations were just trying to survive, and for some 2021 hasn’t been much better. The coming year, however, should be one in which these companies are finally able to focus less on putting out immediate fires and more on taking strides towards their long-term goals once again.

While current needs will still be important, Emissary, with its network of more than 10,000 advisors at director-level or higher, suggests that positioning your sales team as long-term partners and long-term guides may really pay off for your ABM strategy. This is especially true if you’re selling solutions that are similar to that of your competition. In one survey Emissary conducted of executives in their network, 78 percent said features such as “willingness to partner” drove their selection of technology options.