There are many possible ways of looking for new customers in order to boost client portfolio. However, the most critical aspect is the identification of a method that allows an investment truly able to generate a return in commercial terms.
Sales and marketing professionals can indeed rely on a great number of tools and techniques to achieve their company growth goals. Nevertheless, sometimes their efforts do not bear fruits despite the dedication and the passion they have put in place.
As a matter of fact, customer acquisition process is extremely complex but, in each field, especially concerning innovative products, it is necessary to implement a marketing or business development strategy able to create the right conditions to generate commercial value. If you are interested in this topic, here is an interesting article by Denise Lee Yohn published in HBR: Why Great Innovation Needs Great Marketing.
In the following post we will describe the process that here in Vehnta we suggest to our B2B customers that aim at increasing their client portfolio. Clearly, it is not a schema to apply with a simple “copy and paste” for every business, but it is instead a recipe that suggests some guidelines that, if used as part of a wider and custom strategy, can result in important commercial satisfactions.
As usual, it is the collaboration between us and our customer, on a shared path, that can really make the difference on the market.
The starting point for a customer acquisition strategy is the confirmation of the profitability of the proposed business idea. Business will have to face two levels of analysis: the first is the emotional one, while the second is the rational one. For the first level of the analysis we will have to cope with the profound reason that is at the basis of the business existence. During the second step we will then examine the rational aspects that will help the potential customer to rationalize its offer. For further information click here: From strategy to customer acquisition
Once the offer has been validated at strategic level, before starting with commercial action, we will have to analyze current performance of the selling company to understand in detail the starting situation. In Vehnta we suggest an approach based on the sales funnel: starting from all the potential customers and reaching the closing of the deal with the most qualified opportunities, we intend to improve the performance of key steps thus optimizing the whole final performance. To know more click here: Sales funnel: how to generate commercial value.
Once the profitability of the proposed business idea has been defined and the sales funnel has been analyzed, it is then time for action. At this point we indeed help the customer to develop the strategic approach we have suggested for our B2B clients: Account-based marketing (ABM).
What Account-based marketing (ABM) is
Account-based marketing (ABM) refers to a strategy oriented to directly strike the potential target that is interested in the offered product or service. It is a strategy characteristic of B2B market, used by the most dynamic companies to increase their client portfolio. This strategy implies that all marketing actions aim to draw attention and engage the main target of the campaign or the target account (that’s why it is called ABM).
The main target could be the buyer or purchasing manager, for major companies, or the entrepreneur or a player close to decision makers in the case of smaller businesses. Either way it is necessary to highlight that we are focusing on targeted campaigns, which are maybe managed with massive tools in an initial stage, but always with clear and defined objectives in mind.
How an ABM strategy works
With a view to increasing client portfolio, implementing an ABM strategy, maybe assisted by the right company, can really make the difference. The process of implementation of this strategy is standardized in its phases but, for each phase, it implies a great customization that takes into account business, sector and company. Below we describe in detail the steps that characterize an ABM strategy.
- Identifying target accounts – The first step is the choice of the targets. It is a fundamental activity that will have to involve both sales and marketing. Starting from a blank sheet we will define the interesting companies and, if possible, also the target interlocutors or roles. It is an activity that starts from the expectations of sales and potentially of the board to which marketing, with its tools, could add more lateral targets, which are not yet in the sales radar, or borderline to one’s own sector with a view to Blue Ocean strategy. To deepen your knowledge of the concept of Blue Ocean click on the following link and focus on the paragraph “Choosing the right target” of our post From strategy to customer acquisition.
- Analyzing purchasing system – Once potential customers have been defined as described in the previous point, it is time to widen the starting cluster inside the target companies. In B2B world decisions are hardly made by a single interlocutor. Usually it is indeed necessary to find the players that constitute the purchasing system, the so-called decision making unit – DMU, to understand how to proceed. For each of the players involved it could be necessary, beyond their identification and the creation of contact, to think about a custom message. Something that could directly create energy and movement.
- Choosing the contact channels – Usually, players belonging to the purchasing system are different people, with different roles and objectives and, normally, different interests. For this reason we can not take for granted that the contact channel we have chosen for one of these players is right also for another one. In a specific case the right contact channel might be the email, in some cases it will be online advertising to motivate the target, while in some other cases it is a call or a face-to-face meeting. There is not one fixed rule for everyone. However, it is certainly true that for each contact we have to define the right communication channel.
- Creating contents – Once we have chosen the target, analyzed the purchasing system and defined the channels through which contacting the selected people, it is time to create the contents that we will use at the distribution stage. These contents can be texts for the emails, maybe for a marketing automation strategy, texts for the blog with a view to content strategy, pictures or videos. The important thing is to choose the right tone of voice and the right topics to deliver.
- Launching the campaign – Now that we have defined all the previous points we can launch the campaign. This phase, the real execution of the process, is certainly the most delicate one. Indeed, we have to align all the information and contents that we have previously prepared in order to channel the targets into the projected funnel by ensuring that they can interact with all the touch points of the customer journey. It is a matter of implementation of what we have planned, where perseverance and attention to details really make the difference. Here in Vehnta we have our strategy for the implementation of the campaign. For further information, contact us by filling in the form at the end of the page.
- Constantly monitoring the campaign – This stage is crucial during the implementation of the campaign because, through the first available data, it is possible to refute or to confirm the previously made choices. Given that it is a very complicated activity, sometimes we have to change some parameters that we had previously set. It is a normal optimization process that, however, includes constant data monitoring.
- Analyzing the results – At the end of the campaign it is necessary to analyze all the available data. This activity is useful to calculate the campaign ROI (Return On Investment) and to learn from the last experience. This is the last step for an ABM strategy that will become the first step to implement a new cycle, considering customer acquisition as a cyclical process.
The advantages of choosing an ABM strategy
The advantages of an ABM strategy can be summarized in an improvement of ROI compared to the one that we can obtain with other customer acquisition campaigns. Investment reduction, given by more selected costs considering the restricted target, added to better selling performance, so a better return, will indeed lead to an outcome that is certainly more positive than the one of other campaigns.
An ABM strategy, by its very definition, aims at the right target with which it is possible to establish a relationship that can bear fruits over time and potentially also to directly close the first deal. We are therefore talking about tailor made campaigns: conceived and realized specifically for the person or for the department that we are interested in inside the target company.
The different types of ABM strategy
Now that we have defined Account-based marketing, the steps to take in order to implement this strategy and its advantages, we can describe the different kinds of approach in the strategy:
- Strategic ABM
- ABM Lite
- Programmatic ABM
Strategic ABM – It is an approach to ABM carried out on highly strategic accounts. Usually it is a strategy applied on very few targets, even on a very important single target. Certainly it is the approach that guarantees more verticality.
ABM Lite – It is an approach to ABM carried out on little clusters that present similar aspects. Usually they are clusters of players of the same sector, who have the same goals and face the same challenges.
Programmatic ABM – It is an approach to ABM carried out on large scale. It is a more complicated process because it requires a greater amount of data and more innovative tools to be implemented. It is certainly the approach that, in less time, guarantees the greatest number of opportunities.
Some argue that, even in light of the previous definitions that are widely confirmed by professionals, ABM Lite and Programmatic ABM are not actual Account-based marketing strategies. According to us in Vehnta, with a view to client portfolio boost, they are instead absolutely efficient strategies. As always, however, it is necessary to define with the customer its commercial objectives, in order to use the most appropriate tools and strategies to reach the targets.
Is ABM the best choice to increase client portfolio?
As previously stated, the advantages of an ABM strategy are manifold. Together with the customer here in Vehnta we immediately define which ABM approach can be the most interesting one for its goals. The activities to implement could be to contact a very limited number of buyers, to reconstruct the purchasing systems of the most important targets, or to implement a campaign targeted at a cluster of companies in order to maximize the efforts.
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