Fishing on the beach

Fishing requires skill and patience. You need to be focused on what type of fish you’re going after, the best location to catch them, what bait they’ll go for, even the presentation of that bait. You have to take into consideration weather and water conditions and know how they affect the fish each day. 

Marketing requires the same levels of preparation, especially in today’s selling landscape. You must consider the individual buyer’s preferences, practices and interests, as well as the buying environment, your competitors, your messaging and more. Fishing for prospects with a broad net (and throwing back the ones you don’t want) just doesn’t cut it anymore. 

The Trick to One-to-One Interactions

Buyers are expecting a one-to-one level of personalization, which can be considered B2B marketing’s Holy Grail. B2C marketers seem to have this down: Brick-and-mortar stores serve push-messages to customers when they’re in certain proximities, Netflix and Hulu provide on-demand television, and sites like Amazon recommend products based on your search and order histories. 

It’s not as simple for B2B marketers, but certain technologies are breaking down the barrier. Marketing automation tools like Marketo and HubSpot help with segmenting and personalizing email correspondences to groups based on industry, role and other preferences. But it can be a huge challenge for B2B organizations to provide a completely personalized interaction with each call and email, while still remaining efficient and effective.

This is where “account-based marketing” comes in. The term was coined nearly 10 years ago by ITSMA to define a strategy that enables a marketer to hyper-focus on a single key sales account. When small teams of sales and marketing individuals work together on one account, they can dedicate concerted efforts to ensure that the customer’s needs and priorities are addressed through industry-specific messaging. This type of approach can be traced back to the Mad Men days of advertising, when teams of creative and strategic individuals would work together on the perfect pitch to a single client. 

Today, with the development and prevalence of technology in sales and marketing organizations, there are even more opportunities for companies to get personal. Teams are now able to quickly profile and research key accounts, communicate with clients digitally through campaigns and email, track and measure all correspondence, and create the materials needed for all sales conversations (both in-person and digital). This helps teams keep up with the customer’s expectation of a personalized sales interaction every time.

This trend of personalization is especially important considering 77 percent of executive buyers claim that sellers don’t understand their companies’ problems and how they can help them. Providing a one-on-one, personal experience throughout the entire sales cycle is imperative, and account-based marketing just might be the answer for some sales organizations.

Chasing the Holy Grail

When a marketer is dedicated to a smaller, more specific group of prospects or customers, the sky is really the limit when it comes to personalization. And when you have the capabilities to allow sales reps to customize and share marketing-approved materials with these customers, a stronger relationship develops, sales cycles shorten and win rates improve. When sales reps have easy access to only the content that is relevant to their specific opportunity, and can personalize it for each interaction, there is decreased risk of sharing inappropriate or irrelevant content with prospects. 

Personalized, one-to-one customer interactions are inevitably going to be the norm very soon. Account-based marketing is a way to provide that tailored experience to customers and may give B2B organizations the competitive advantage they are looking for. Combining this with automated, customized marketing materials, so sales reps can personalize every customer interaction, and you just might be on your way to marketing’s Holy Grail of personalization.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Podknox