Challenge: Identifying Personas Within Buying Centers is Difficult
I had a brainstorm last week that I believe will lead to more productive outbound programs by identifying a problem inherent in many Account Based Marketing (ABM) programs. In sum, we need to improve how we develop our target buyers at the early stage of program launch. Since this is a new insight for me, this post focuses more on diagnosing he problem rather than recommending solutions. Have you found a better way? Love to hear your thoughts.
We must address several layers of issues to accurately target prospects in a scalable way providing the foundation for outbound/ABM programs. These layers act like concentric circles to get to the ideal program target list. Here are a set of three ‘formulas’ or reasons that describe the top three challenges:
ABM ≠ Buying Center
Buying Center ≠ Persona
Contacts ≠ Updated
ABM ≠ $ROI Potential$
Let me explain.
First, we all love Account Based Marketing and understand that greater customization and effort focused on a limited set of accounts who represent your ideal customer will deliver higher conversion rates. However, when targeting enterprise accounts, there are different buying centers. More specifically, your offering may address the needs of and be purchased by multiple departments, so targeting a ‘company’ does not sufficiently address the buying center because there are actually multiple buying centers. For example, if you sell to developers, your target account many have many different groups of developers who will make different purchase decisions. And this raises further questions. Do these different departments (buying centers) have the same needs, pain points and interests? Do your value proposition, primary contacts and other key elements change across every buying center? If so, then many ABM programs may be missing the mark by not tailoring to a specific buying center within a target account. Factor #1: ABM ≠ Buying Center.
As we dig further into our outbound programs, the buyers are often not in the same department. The personas leading the purchase may be part of one department but in most cases there are personas from different departments involved in the buying decision. To accurately target an ‘Buying Center’, your programs need to consider all of the different contacts associated with the buying center (the collective group of people responsible for making the purchase decision). In many outbound/ABM programs, contacts are selected because they fit key personas but their position in the organization may not be identified in terms of how they fit within the buying center. Factor #2: Buying Center ≠ Persona.
Finally, the targets of our programs often shift jobs — up to 20% of contact details may change every year. While many organizations have deployed CRM account alignment solutions (DiscoverOrg, DataFox, D&B, …), few automatically update contact information. As contact take on new roles/responsibilities and as contacts change jobs, is your database staying current? Likely not. (Personal note — I would love to a cloud solution that automatically updated contact details as they change) Factor #3: frequently Contacts ≠ Updated.
While ABM provides a mechanism for better account and contact selection for outbound programs, there remains a huge gap between this method and how internal enterprise B2B purchase decisions are made. Therefore, your ABM may be delivering less revenue than it could if the programs were more carefully targeted. Clearly there are major gaps in our ability to map organizational buying decisions to a level where our systems can help us execute these programs at scale. That’s the bad news — but realizing this gap is the first step to designing better processes.
If we, as a marketing department, take our ABM efforts to the next level with tailored targeting processes, we will be more closely aligned with the actual purchase process. For now this starts with a careful examination of the purchase process, personas, target accounts and more, in order to develop a strategy with available tools. As we identify target accounts, we must identify all of the personas across the organization associated with the buying decision to increase success rates. We will need to lean harder on our tech stack providers to give us greater insights into these areas for better and easier segmentation at scale. In the end, this will be an optimization of outbound programs to have more precision and greater results.
Lesson: If we take the time to identify and target all of the contacts associated with organization buying centers, our outbound campaigns will be more productive and drive greater revenue.