Become an ABM Shark with Insights

With marketing budgets slashed in a post-pandemic world, focused marketing efforts like ABM rule the day. Organisations often jump on the ABM bandwagon without proper research and insights. They are, therefore, not getting the desired results from their ABM campaigns. Prajwal Gadtaula, Founder & CEO at Business Brainz and BBN Insights, shares how customised, in-depth desk research reports can help marketers get the best out of their ABM efforts.


You don’t chop wood with a blunt axe!

Most b2b marketers will agree that research is one of the vital components of a successful ABM initiative. But in reality, most avoid researching before jumping into an ABM campaign. Why is that? It’s most likely because they do not know where to start. After all, research or gathering insights is not their forte. Marketers tend to be biased towards getting into action, which usually means diving straight into campaign planning and creating graphic assets. In general, many marketers tend to miss out on ‘sharpening the axe’ and then, in retrospect, realise that they can’t chop the wood with a blunt axe. Sometimes agencies are also to blame because they have that gunslinger mentality of immediately getting into action. But to be fair, that’s because the client wants to see action and doesn’t have the patience to invest time in research that can ultimately help calibrate their campaigns and make them successful.


Knowing the right questions is a good start.

Regarding research, some marketers and agencies do not know the right questions to ask. In other words, what information does a marketer need before selecting a company or account to devise their marketing strategy? What are the right questions for Account Based Marketing Research?

Firstly you need to clarify what boxes need checking for an account to be selected or deselected for your campaign. Suppose the research determines that an account gets deselected from an ABM campaign. In that case, it avoids much-wasted effort, time and marketing dollars.

Part of the research should identify the core or significant strategic priorities that each account is facing. Whatever you’re selling has to enable their business at the end of the day, identify those priorities at the segment level or by geography; for example, for substantial global accounts, their North American Division might have different priorities than their APAC region.

As well as strategic priorities, what are their challenges? Suppose an account suffered a significant operating loss in the previous fiscal year. In that case, they probably do not have the necessary budget to make substantial purchases in the coming months. A marketer would deselect this account from the campaign based on this research. If overlooked, they would pour a ton of marketing dollars into an account that would not result in a sale.

We also use research to understand the decision-making groups, basically who the decision makers and influencers are and their relationship with the priorities and challenges of the business.

The research helps marketers determine what they should know depending on what they sell. For example, if you sell cloud services, you would want to understand different things versus if you want to sell a supply chain solution.

So to summarise this section, there are two stages of research. The first stage helps select the correct accounts to target. And the second stage takes a deep dive into learning about the executives making the decision and their relationship with the problem they’re trying to solve.


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So why would you want to outsource your research?

Most B2B marketing agencies are very good at building the campaign, coming up with the content and strategising around it, creating the graphics and building the assets and collaterals. Research is time intensive and, if done by someone who isn’t a research specialist, can become an expensive resource for the agency. With additional research done by outsourced specialists, agencies have the information they need to add that personalisation touch or create a campaign that resonates with the target audience. Without research, we base campaigns upon the intuition or assumptions made by the team. Being fact-based versus being intuitive increases the chances of campaign success.

Within a business enterprise, the sales and marketing people are not usually skilled or equipped to do research. Therefore using third-party researchers to produce ABM account insights is essential and can build strong links between the marketing and sales team by providing a common understanding of the account. And that’s super critical.

So, in conclusion, as a CEO, you don’t want your salesperson to be sitting doing research. It’s far more efficient and cost-effective to have someone skilled to conduct the research so that your salesperson can go and sell more. Even if, on average, your salesperson spends one day researching one or two accounts every week, that’s 52 days of a salesperson’s time. Imagine what you could achieve if they were spending that time on selling.


What types of insight are most common in ABM campaigns?

There are different levels of applying Account Based Marketing insights. Most businesses use it at an industry level when they want to understand a particular industry and target that industry by geography or sector.

Then there are account-level insights when businesses wish to learn about a specific target account. Then further still, at the persona level when they need to understand what’s happening in particular persona categories across the industry. Deep-dive executive insight is required if they know the exact identity of whom they must target.

So while starting with a broad level of research on a specific set of accounts is beneficial, the more granular and detailed the research, the more creative and relevant the content is for the target audience. So avoid cutting corners initially and employ thorough research to make the campaign more effective.


See Also: Personalising ABM at Scale: Here’s How to Do it!


What’s the research process? 

There is no secret formula, but it does take time and hard work. It is critical to understand the service or product the client is trying to market or sell to understand the ideal questions. Then based on years of experience in doing research, map the appropriate methods and skill sets to attain that information. The most critical ability would be to map what you’re selling with what’s happening and then identify the most appropriate action.


The bottom line

The bottom line is that you should never embark on an Account-based Marketing strategy if you don’t have the research to ensure a successful outcome. Otherwise, you could be wasting valuable time and money on accounts and people that just aren’t going to buy.


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About the author

Prajwal Gadtaula, is the founder & CEO of BusinessBrainz, who deliver bespoke insights about industries, companies and executives to sales and marketing teams engaged in B2B selling and marketing. Their insight reports are a key enabler for ABM (Account Based Marketing), Enterprise Sales and B2B Demand Generation.

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