One of the key tenets of account-based marketing (ABM) is the importance of identifying and pursuing “named accounts.” You’ve probably heard this term before, and perhaps you already use them for your lead generation. But like so many marketing buzzwords, the phrase “named account” can mean many different things to different people.
In order to enact a successful marketing strategy rooted in ABM tactics, your team needs to be on the same page not only about how to define what a named account is, but also about how to engage with them effectively.
What Are Named Accounts Exactly?
Account-based marketing is all about changing the focus of your lead generation efforts in order to make them more targeted, personalized, and therefore, more likely to succeed. Gone are the days of asking sales to chase down as many individual leads as possible. With ABM, instead of pursuing more leads, you narrow your focus to the right leads.
Within that approach, a named account is a single company assigned to an individual marketing or sales rep. Seems simple enough, no? There’s a bit more to it than that.
With ABM, your campaigns are designed to resonate with each individual influencer, decision maker, or champion at a target company. For example, if you’re trying to sell your perfect widget to We Need Widgets, Inc., you might want to pursue the CEO, the CFO, and the Director of Customer Experience. The CEO makes all final decisions, the CFO is the keeper of the purse, and the Director of Customer Experience’s team will be the ones actually utilizing and benefiting from your top-of-the-line widget.
All of this is to say, a single named account might contain several leads within it.
In this way, your named accounts—and the leads buried within them—become the building blocks of your marketing and sales efforts. Once you can identify a company’s needs as a whole, you can be more confident about the pain points and buying motivations of the individuals within that company.
The Importance of Data
Because you have decided to pursue account-based marketing, your named accounts must be carefully selected. Remember: you’re not looking for more leads. You’re looking for the right leads, who you’ll engage with in a highly-targeted way. You can’t simply collect the contact information of hundreds of accounts, divide them up among your sales reps, and ask them to throw your marketing message out into the world to see which pitches stick. That’s not ABM, and it’s not really even a strategy (or at least not a very good one).
This is where data comes in. Before you can reach out to any of your named accounts, you need to collect deep-level insights about the problems and issues each account is facing. This is the only way you’ll ultimately be able to provide any value to the leads within the account; you have to be able to tell the decision makers how you can solve their problems.
Named Accounts Align Marketing and Sales
With ABM, an organization defines a target set of accounts and then employs campaigns that will resonate with each prospect or account individually. Essentially, you agree to create an account-specific marketing plan and then integrate it with your sales strategy in order to reach those accounts with your message. Marketing and sales are part of the same team, integrated and aligned.
Focusing on named accounts aids this effort by streamlining the work (say goodbye to reps stepping on each other’s toes or accidentally doing the same work twice). This strategy also makes it much easier to keep track of your leads. Identify the named account; assign it to a sales rep; uncover the individual decision-makers within; research their problems; craft your marketing message accordingly.
How to Move to a Named Account Approach
If your team and CRM system have always been built around pursuing leads, moving to a named account approach may seem daunting. Don’t worry! It doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your efforts.
First, start with the data. Research shows that more than 50 percent of the data in the average company CRM system is out of date, so work with a data provider to clean up the leads you already have. From there, you’ll be able to quickly reorganize your leads into companies, industries, and more.
Secondly, work backward where you can! If one of your sales reps identifies a new hot lead, assign them that entire company as a named account. They can then work to figure out who the other decision makers are in the company to round out your insights for pursuit.
As account-based marketing increasingly becomes the topic du jour in lead generation, it can be easy to throw around ABM buzzwords without truly understanding what they mean and how they affect your business. Don’t let your sales and marketing teams fall into this trap! To achieve a successful account-based marketing approach, each and every stakeholder in the process must truly understand the concept of named accounts and buy into their own role within your ABM puzzle.
For tips on how to get started with account-based marketing, download the free Account-Based Marketing Guide for Modern Marketers.
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