Account Based Marketing (ABM) is no longer an emerging category. At the 2017 SiriusDecisions Summit it became clear that ABM is now a foundational part of how B-to-B companies go to market. It’s not just that every ABM session was packed to the gills, nor the existence of the many vendors who play a role in the ABM process. What really convinced me that ABM was here to stay was the new Demand Waterfall that SiriusDecisions rolled out.

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There are two major changes that can directly be attributed to ABM. The first major change is the addition of two new layers at the top.

Stage 1 = Target Demand: This is your total addressable market. TAM is defined by filtering down to target account attributes which include industry, company size and buying center. Lots of data vendors now sport ABM messaging to help you identify this target.

Stage 2 = Active Demand: This is a further filtering of your TAM to determine buying intent. In fact, SiriusDecisions has a new category for vendors in this space called “Intent Marketing”. This is understanding the behavior of your targets relative to online researching or experiencing an event that would cause a need for your product or service. This further refines your TAM to who might be ready to buy.

Stage 3 = Engaged Demand: This is where the old Demand Waterfall began; with inquiries. But now there is a need to map these inquiries to who they are, what they are interested in and to a buying center within your Active Demand. All individual hand raisers for a buying center are mapped together.

The benefits of the new Demand Waterfall with ABM

The remainder of the waterfall hasn’t changed much, but the top three stages alone mean a fundamental pivot for many organizations. The benefits are easy to see if you can pull it off. With this model you’ll get:

  • More focused marketing spend and better marketing ROI.
  • Tighter alignment between sales and marketing.
  • Higher conversion from lead to opportunity because business development will have more than one lead to call on within an account to convert them into an opportunity.
  • More high quality pipeline with a higher close rate.

Outbound marketing and prospecting can no longer be a volume game. It just doesn’t work anymore. And the new Demand Unit Waterfall is clear evidence of this. In fact, SiriusDecisions has eliminated the term “lead” from their vocabulary. It isn’t about individual leads anymore. It is about engaging with target accounts (or demand units) and stimulating interest. And ABM is the process to help you do that.

Since many of our blog subscribers are running referral programs, you may wonder how this applies to you. The answer is that with an ABM strategy, your high quality referral leads will sky rocket. Why? If your salespeople have a list of target accounts and you are enabling your sales team to ask customers and partners for referrals, the ask just got much more specific.

Asking if that partner or customer has ties to a specific list of companies will result in triggering an extended thought process on the part of that advocate. You might hear “I don’t have ties to ACME, but I’m pretty sure that Joe used to work there. Let me introduce you and I’m sure Joe can direct you to the right person there.” That’s more personal than LinkedIn and faster too!

ABM is good for demand generation. Period. Whether you are focusing on inbound, outbound or referrals, your efforts just got much more focused. And that will improve your pipeline.

No matter what your marketing role, it’s time to embrace ABM!

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