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PHOTO: Jakkapant

If you work in the B2B world, you’ve almost certainly been the target of B2B marketing and sales. Most likely, many times per day. And it’s not pretty.

So while you know that such marketers and salespeople are smart and capable, you also know firsthand that the tactics they’re using are, all too often, stupid. Buyers absolutely hate that organizations continue to spam them with irrelevant content, ads and other communications that miss the mark — and they are showing us by opting out, tuning out and tossing out our messages.

Even if you’re not guilty of sending non-opt-in emails, that doesn’t mean your brand is in the clear. Every irrelevant interaction that isn’t helping or adding value to your buyers can be considered spam.

With all we know about buyer preferences and best practices, why is this still happening? Why are really smart marketers and salespeople still annoying the very people they want to reach?

The answer, it turns out, is what I call account blindness. When you don’t have a clear picture of your accounts, their behaviors, and what matters to them, it’s nearly impossible to hit that magic moment of engaging at the right time with the right message. Here’s how to know if you’re suffering from account blindness — and how to fix it. 

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series.

Your Systems Are Fragmented and Not Optimized 

Account blindness takes root when your data is fragmented. Many organizations experience this when they have data in a marketing automation system, a CRM, their website, and more. It’s great to have all this data, but it will fail to help you understand your buyer journey if it’s not connected.

Additionally, many of these systems aren’t account-based but are lead-based. In such a case, your data won’t roll up properly to an account. You can imagine how this can cause a host of problems in an account-based approach. For example, if someone at a target account is highly engaged on your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean the account is showing interest. Conversely, many people from an account may be engaging, but you can’t realize how hot an opportunity they are if you can't connect the dots. 

The original promise of marketing automation was that it would allow marketers to track the digital body language of their buyers. But, we’ve seen this promise broken. Marketing automation is a key part of account-based go-to-market, but by itself it provides a narrow view of what buyers are actually doing. Your data and your buyer journey cannot be optimized as long as your systems are fragmented. 

Related Article: 3 Ways Marketers Can Ease Account-Based Transition for Sales

Your Buyers Are Increasingly Anonymous

Another way to know that you’re falling prey to account blindness is if you’re frustrated by the anonymous nature of today’s buying journey. Gartner found that 27% of B2B buying groups’ time today is spent independently researching online, which means 27% less of their time poking around your website. And when they do come to your site, they may avoid filling out forms in an effort to stave off unwanted communications (a.k.a. spam). 

But as people conduct research more on third-party websites, they become harder to identify and track. Plus, individuals don't make purchase decisions in B2B; entire buying committees do (all of whom are conducting this aforementioned anonymous research). With a decided lack of available information about prospective buyers, how can you possibly get a clear picture of your target accounts and reach them? 

Related Article: How to Attract and Engage, Not Alienate, B2B Buyers

Account Intelligence: Augmenting Data With Intent

The only way to overcome account blindness is with account intelligence. This includes defragmenting your go-to-market (GTM), de-anonymizing your buyers and augmenting your data with intent, technographic and other third-party data. Not familiar with how to do that? Don’t worry; I’ll cover all of this in detail in the next article. 

Stay tuned for part two, which will offer a deep dive into understanding, harnessing and making the most of account intelligence — and help you put account blindness in the past.