We know that Account-Based Sales is the next big thing in B2B, but only with the right strategic plan can we successfully implement an Account-Based Aligned team to drive growth.
Ideally, any target account is that company you want to turn into your customer, account-based marketing is about you treating each account as a market of one with everything customized and having dedicated resources to serve that account.
There has been a lot of debate on how scalable ABM can be when there are thousands of accounts to target.
In the last few years, a new style of ABM has emerged, where you prioritize your accounts based upon your business objectives so that you don’t funnel all your resources to the wrong accounts.
Chances are, you won’t engage all the target accounts in the same campaign, the account-based marketing strategy can actually range from going intensive with mega accounts to having scalable efforts on thousands of accounts you might also want to target.
Using technology, data, and research you can prioritize, segment your dream accounts, simply referred to as tiering up your accounts.
That’s tiering your accounts into your Tier 1 (high priority), Tier 2 (medium priority) and Tier 3 (low priority) accounts. When you’re able to do this effectively, you begin to scale your ABM implementation, which is where the real magic rests.
By choosing a pyramid to visualize the types of Tiers, you immediately get a feel for the number of accounts that can be supported at each level. The closer to the top of the pyramid, the higher the touch and customization requirements. This means your investment will be higher and must offset with appropriate goals – by account.
Before we jump in, Segmenting your accounts into Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 comes down to your specific interest or your business interests.
You can segment according to priorities like revenue to be generated, the number of employees, Industry, growth etc. Depending on what qualities you choose, you can then place your accounts in tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3.
For example, if revenue is your priority, place the accounts in your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) with the highest revenue in tier 1, with medium revenue in tier 2 and so on. Here the highest revenue can be 1 billion or 1 million that totally depends on your company’s ICP.
Tier 1 (High priority)
These accounts get the “full” Account-Based Marketing treatment – meaning each one gets deep research, a customized plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and a lot of 1:1 attention.
You map out each buying centre, understand where there may be revenue potential, build out the organization chart and see which contacts you know and which you need to know, research key business priorities and individual motivations, and identify relationships and connections to the account. You publish detailed account dossiers, maintain them quarterly, and even have internal chat groups or forums dedicated to each account.
You put together marketing plays that are designed for that account specifically, and you involve your entire organization, from the CEO down, to land and expand these accounts.
This style of ABM works great and here are some generalized traits of tier 1 accounts.
Number of accounts: 10-20
- Focus on Account plans
- Deep research and 1:1 Personalisation
- It involves Sales+SDR+Marketing+Executive support
Timeline: Last’s months to a year
Tier 2 (Medium priority)
While you can probably count the accounts getting Style 1 (TIER 1) on your fingers and toes, Style 2 lets you apply much of the focus and benefits of account-based marketing to a broader list – usually measured in the low hundreds of accounts. Some folks call this “ABM Lite”.
Tier 2 accounts segmented also get individual research, but perhaps it’s limited to a few key talking points for each account (e.g. spending three minutes to find three key selling points).
Since these accounts are often smaller, mapping out individual buying centres may not be as challenging. But no matter what, you still want to spend time making sure you have quality data at the account level, as well as for each of the key people in each persona in the organization – and you’ll want a process to keep those insights fresh, at least annually.
These accounts may not get completely customized marketing plays and content, but they should still get highly relevant touches based on their industry and persona.
Instead of 1:1 campaign, these accounts get 1: Few campaigns.
Instead of fully bespoke content, perhaps you take content written for their industry and customize it with their logo on the cover and a personalized first and last paragraph.
However, here are the key characteristics of Tier 2 accounts in general.
Number of accounts: 100-500
- Focus on Segment plans
- Industry/solution level Personalisation
- It involves SDR+Marketing
Timeline: Multi-touch over weeks
Tier 3 (Low priority)
This style covers all the accounts that you want to target but doesn’t have the resources for personalization and customization. These will often be smaller accounts and can be counted in thousands.
You may target these accounts with specific outbound tactics, sometimes account segmentation by industry or solution, but the rest of the time you’ll simply use broad demand gen tactics but target specific accounts, including ABM advertising, content syndication, and events.
Programmatic account-based marketing is basically traditional marketing with account-level targeting. The key difference from demand generation is that instead of scoring leads, you track account-level engagement and wait until the account hits a sufficient threshold to label them a Marketing Qualified Account.
Importance of Account Segmentation
No one style is better than another and all three tiers of account based marketing play a role in your business. Most important is that you answer these three questions…
- Which accounts go to which tier?
- How many sales and marketing effort goes into each tier of accounts?
- How much revenue and pipeline you expect to drive from each tier?
Now that you have high-level insights on account segmentation, and prioritizing the list of target accounts, make sure everyone in your organization is aligned to personalization and resources applied to each tier.
Feel free to check out our own complete Account-Based Alignment tool Intandemly.