The 5/57 Problem

Is 98% of Your Marketing Wasted?

What the heck is the 5/57 Problem?

Let’s start with this old  John Wanamaker quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,”.

This is wrong if you are a B2B marketer.

If you operate in a market with long, complex sales cycles and high-value sales, 98% of your marketing may be wasted.

I call this the 5/57 problem

Let me explain.

95% of Your Target Market May Not Be in-market

How often do your prospects replace their software solutions or services firms? A good rule of thumb is every five years. It may be even less often in many markets. So in any given year, only 20% of your target accounts may be considering a switch or a new approach. And in any given quarter, only 5% (a quarter of the 20%) may be in-market.

In the words of Professor John Dawes, at Ehrenberg-Bass, in an article for the LinkedIn B2B Institute called 95:5 rule::

“It might surprise you to learn that up to 95% of business clients are not in the market for many goods and services at any one time. This is a deceptively simple fact, but it has a profound implication for advertising. It means that advertising mostly hits B2B buyers who aren’t going to buy any time soon.”

57% of Buyers Have Already Decided By the Time They Reach Out

In my favorite B2B sales and marketing book, the Challenger Customer, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now part of Gartner, surveyed 3000 B2B Buyers. One of their findings is that 57% of buyers have already decided on who they are going with by the time they reach out to any vendor.

If you had not got these buyers’ attention early enough in their process, when they were thinking about the problem and how to solve it, your marketing won’t have had any effect.

This means that 57% of the 5% are not open to hearing from you.


Only 2% of your ICP may be willing to pay attention to your marketing.

Are You a Mindreader Yet?

Companies that have fully embraced ABM can feel smug about this problem.

They have become marketing mindreaders who can pinpoint who is in-market before their competitors and get to buyers early enough in the buyer journey to make an impact.

They use Intent Data. This is like magic when it works well. Intent data used well provides signals on who may be in-market and where they are in the process.

They focus the lion’s share of their marketing on getting the attention of the 5% who are in-market and engaging them with content that helps them in their buying process.

Yeah, But Does it Really Work?


We helped a client get started with intent data, and in the first week, the SDRs identified that a large prospect was in-market for their solution. They reached the person in charge of the buyer collective through an existing relationship. They were unaware of our client, but after hearing their pitch, they included them in their shortlist.

The same company then closed a $2.5 million deal with a large customer thanks partly to identifying high intent early in the process, targeting them with advertising, and then transitioning the opportunity to sales.

This client has started down the road to solving the 5/57 Problem.

We are a little bit obsessed with ABM. Our mission is to help clients deliver better results through more efficient marketing. We want all our clients to become mind readers.

If you are interested in solving the 5/57 Problem and becoming an ABM mind reader, please DM me or email me at

Alternatively, check out the Healthtech Marketing Learning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.

And if you want to work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in B2B marketing.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: You Can’t Annoy Prospects into Buying from You

One of the biggest frustrations in B2B marketing is that lead generation doesn’t work as well as it used to. 

We’re all kinda to blame for this.

There is a history in B2B marketing where someone figures out a new, better way of generating leads. It works well for them. They perfect it. Prospects take the bait, and they generate better and more leads than everyone else.

Competitors copy them. Marketers in other market categories copy them. Suddenly everyone is doing it. Technology startups figure out a way to automate and scale this approach. Someone writes a book on it. A whole cottage industry is formed around this new way of generating leads.

But prospects get wise and stop responding.

This happened with gated content, cold-calling, automated email sequences, and the latest tactic that’s being ruined for everyone, social selling.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many cold emails do you ignore per day?
  • How many unsolicited phone calls do you block per week?
  • How many InMails are unread in your LinkedIn inbox?
  • How many follow-up emails do you have to ignore after registering for a webinar or filling out a form on a website?

Annoying, isn’t it? 

I have over 37,000 unopened emails. The vast majority are marketing emails or prospecting emails trying to sell me something that has nothing to do with what I do.

“No, I don’t need software testing. We don’t make software. That was my last company. Gaaaaaaaah!”

If you find it annoying, why would your prospects feel any different?

I am not saying we should all stop all lead-generation tactics. On the contrary, lead generation has its place as part of a bigger play that includes demand generation and demand capture.

To be clear, lead generation, demand generation, and demand capture are three different things and they can work together really well, but, as marketers, we sometimes get them mixed up.

OK, Mr. Smartypants, what is the difference?

Hey ChatGPT, what’s the difference between lead generation, demand generation, and demand capture?

Lead generation, demand generation, and demand capture are all related to the process of generating sales, but they differ in their approach and the stage of the customer journey that they target.

Lead generation is the process of identifying and collecting contact information from potential customers who have shown interest in a product or service. The goal of lead generation is to gather leads that can be nurtured and eventually converted into paying customers. Lead generation often involves tactics such as email marketing, social media advertising, and content marketing.

Demand generation is the process of creating interest and awareness in a product or service among a target audience. The goal of demand generation is to generate demand for a product or service, even among those who may not be actively looking to make a purchase. Demand generation often involves tactics such as social media marketing, content marketing, and events.

Demand capture is the process of capturing potential customers who are actively searching for a product or service. The goal of demand capture is to capture those customers who are already in the market for a product or service and looking to make a purchase. Demand capture typically involves tactics such as search engine marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and other forms of online advertising that target potential customers who are already searching for specific products or services.

In summary, lead generation focuses on identifying and collecting contact information from potential customers, demand generation focuses on creating interest and awareness in a product or service, and demand capture focuses on capturing existing demand from potential customers who are already looking for a product or service. All three strategies are important for a successful sales and marketing approach, and companies may use a combination of all three to maximize their sales and revenue.

The Silo Problem

Companies that understand the differences and do all three still need help executing this approach effectively.

They typically have one big obstacle: Demand generation, lead generation, and demand capture are treated as siloed activities.

In many firms, Marketing views brand building as their primary job, and lead generation is a separate activity to keep sales happy.  And to many, demand generation and lead generation mean the same thing. To be clear, they are not the same.

Lead generation is often used as “Spray and Pray,” e.g., send out a ton of cold prospecting emails, run a webinar, and bombard the registrants with email sequences. Maybe they syndicate some content to get a bunch of leads.

Guess what? That doesn’t work. I know. I tried when I ran my own software company. Eventually, we figured it out.

The other silo problem is that demand capture is primarily left to the SDR/BDRs. And as the SDR/BDRs most often report to sales, they could be better connected to what marketing is doing. And cold outbound prospecting is their number 1 job (back to trying to annoy people into becoming customers).

What Does Good Look Like?

The demand gen/lead gen/demand capture model works well Sales and Marketing understand two things: 1) The differences between demand generation, lead generation, and demand capture; 2) They work together to create a tightly integrated program.


When this model is working effectively, Marketing and Sales are closely aligned and focused on generating demand through various awareness-building tactics to identify in-market prospects. This includes awareness advertising, ungated content, and using intent data to pinpoint accounts most likely to become prospects.

They can see who is engaging. They can see who is showing intent.

They use different types of content and tactics to move prospects along their journey. This might include an invitation to a small exclusive event or a personalized ad to view a demo that addresses their specific needs.

The SDRs focus on in-market prospects and target them with lead-generation tactics to get them to put their hand up.  They might use a personalized landing page with content and offers curated to their needs.

(By the way, is Account-based marketing).

Creating ABM Motion

My friend Ben Person, a Martech entrepreneur and former CMO of the enterprise software firm Nuvolo gave me a great example of this working well at his former company.

In his past life at Nuvolo, this was the model they used for some of their product lines:

  • Start with a clearly defined target account list and a well-understood buyer collective.
  • Use intent data to determine which accounts might be in-market for their solution.
  • Target the buyer collectives at these in-market accounts with awareness ads that address specific problems these buyers face.
  • When accounts engaged with the ads, they were added to a campaign to capture demand. This included harder selling messages designed to get them interested in the Nuvolo solution.
  • Their demand capture strategy included a 30-minute demo. Yes, 30 minutes. And this was the only gated content in the whole process.
  • Throughout this process, marketing, SDRs, and sales would observe accounts moving through the buyer journey. And only when someone registered and watched most of the 30-minute demo would the SDR reach out to schedule a meeting.
  • And when the SDRs reached out, the prospect was much more likely to take the appointment. Moreover, the prospect was more engaged and ready to be sold to.

This model had a very high sales conversion rate, and doesn’t this sound less annoying?

If you’d like to chat about how to do this, DM me, or let’s schedule a call.

I promise not to be annoying.

How Useful are Personas For Complex Sales?

There is a debate in some B2B circles about the value of personas. So, are they useful in complex sales?

It depends.

(And I apologize for giving the ultimate consulting firm answer here)

Problems with Personas in B2B Complex Sales

I have been using personas for twenty years. In my B2C experience, personas were very useful in helping align the team about whom we were selling to and how to change their behavior. As the persona is the buyer in most cases, you may only need three or four personas, tops in B2C.

In B2B sales, creating useful personas is more challenging.

In complex sales, you most likely sell to multiple market segments (Ideal Customer Profiles or ICPs). Each segment has a buyer collective with multiple stakeholders, including champions, influencers, and decision-makers. The average number of stakeholders is 5.4, according to the book the Challenger Customer. In healthcare, it’s an even larger group.

And then the champion is not always in the same role from one prospect account to another. In the last article about buyer collectives, I described four buyer collectives that we sold to when I ran a software company. Each had a different champion, set of influencers, and decision-makers.

You can go wrong with B2B personas by oversimplifying how your customers buy. There’s a reason why they are called Complex Sales.

It’s All About the Buyer Journey

In our work with clients to develop ABM strategies, we focus on creating buyer journeys that reflect what the buyer collective goes through to decide on a new solution. We try to understand how the buyer collective thinks and acts as a group.

This Slide Share explains the process we use to create buyer journeys. And as you will see, we start with personas, focusing on the champions. This is just the start. We spend 90% of the time on how the buyer collective buys.

Also, note that we don’t use the traditional Awareness/Interest/Decision/Model model. We feel that this does not reflect how buyer collectives think. We believe that it is better to translate this into Problem Definition, Solution Definition, Vendor Evaluation, and Decision-making. This is more reflective of a Buyer Collective’s process.

Start with The Problem That Triggers The Buyer Collective

We spend the most time analyzing the problems that the buyers are trying to solve. Early on, buyers spend more time thinking about problems and very little time thinking about who can help them. We want to know what questions they are discussing, how they define their problems, and what issues contribute to that problems.

And most important of all, what triggers a buying process.

We also analyze what they might search for online and what intent topics might help identify in-market prospects.

Lastly, we consider the sources they trust for information and the types of information they seek.

Next, What Solution Will the Buyer Collective Consider

When Buyer Collectives form, they will spend much time discussing the problems. Once aligned on the problem, they get hung up on how they will solve it. Research shows that the solution definition stage is usually the hardest for them to align. It’s where they can most use your help. The problem is that they aren’t ready to speak with you yet.

Here again, we focus on what questions the buyers wrestle with at this stage, what areas they will investigate, and what options they will consider.

Then the Buyer Collective Evaluate Vendors and Decide

Once the buyer decides what solution approach to take, they will start evaluating vendors. According to the research referenced above, this is the most straightforward issue for the buyer collective to resolve.

Eventually, they will go through a decision-making process to pick their vendor.

The output of this work is a detailed document that includes the Buyer Collective, high-level personas of the champions, what questions the buyer collective at every stage in the journey, what triggers the decision to start looking for solutions, their trusted sources, intent topics and search terms they might use.

We use these to create content plans and engagement strategies. These are the basis of the marketing plan. We reviewed this in a post last year on creating a buyer-driven marketing plan.

In a future post, I will go into the types of research you can use to get this insight.

Everything ABM Everywhere All At Once (an interview with Terminus CMO, Natalie Cunningham)

So today’s post has nothing to do with the Oscars, a woman trying to do her taxes, or the multiverse, but it has everything to do with ABM. Actually, it has to do with everything about how a really smart person views ABM. That really smart person is Natalie Cunningham, CMO of Terminus, a leading ABM platform.

I sat down with Natalie last week to talk about all things ABM. You can view the whole interview at the bottom, but to save you some time, here are some super sharp insights from Natalie.

ABM Is About Efficient Growth

In this excerpt, Natalie explains that one of the reasons ABM is booming is that it both delivers better results and is a more efficient model than traditional B2B Marketing. In Natalie’s view, as the business world shifts from growth at all costs to predictable and profitable growth, ABM is a must-do.

What Does a Typical ABM Journey Look Like

While every firm’s journey is different, a recurring pattern exists in how firms adopt ABM. Here Natalie describes the adoption journey, from proving the value and educating the team. Then expand into the whole sales and marketing team, and, eventually, to how you use ABM to retain and grow existing customers.


One of the hardest things for non-ABM users to picture is how it’s possible to personalize how you can market in a more personalized way. In this excerpt, Natalie explains how firms can execute more personalized marketing, starting with account insights based on intent data.

Marketing to your Current Customers

Almost half of all ABM marketing is targeted at current customers. The misperception is that it’s mostly about more targeted marketing to acquire new customers. In this segment, Natalie explains how to use ABM principles to retain and grow your customers.

What the Heck is GTM?

GTM is all the rage these days. (Personally, I think it’s overused and misused). Natalie provides one of the best definitions of GTM I have heard.

Here is the Full Episode

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

11 Content Marketing Idea Slideshow

Great content is a fundamental part of any B2B marketing plan. Creating content is a make-or-break component, but it’s not the whole story. Getting that content in front of your target audience is as essential. Many marketers fall short on this.

Here are 11 strategies and ideas to market your content.

Let me know if I missed any.

(Actually, I just realized that I didn’t include document carousels like this and video marketing via LinkedIn so that’s 13 ideas! 🤦‍♂️ )

What It Will Take for Digital Health Adoption To Happen, Dr Nick Patel, Digital Health Transformation Health Expert

Dr. Nick Patel is a highly accomplished physician, healthcare executive, and a well-known expert on digital transformation. In 2021 and 2022, he was recognized by Beckers Hospital Review as one of the 50 innovative chief digital officers to know.  
In this episode of the Healthtech Marketing Podcast, we cover: 
  • The changing role of Chief Digital Officers
  • The state of healthcare digital transformation
  • Best practice in digital transformation for healthcare organizations
  • What will it take for digital health to succeed
  • Top challenges in digital health
  • Technology that he is excited about

The State of Digital Health

In this short excerpt, Nick explains how digital health accelerated during the pandemic and why it’s currently hitting roadblocks.

What it Will Take for US Healthcare to Adopt Digital Health

In this except, Nick explains why digital health is slowing down, why it’s a missed opportunity and what will need to happen for healthcare systems to embrace digital health at scale. Nick is optimistic but extremely pragmatic about the obstacles and how to overcome them, as you will see in this short excerpt.


How to Get Physicians On Board with Digital Health

One of the biggest barriers to the mass adoption of digital health is that physicians have not gotten on board. Nick explains why this is and how to get physicians to embrace this, what it makes it seem beneficial to them.


The Full Episode

Nick is truly one of the top thought leaders in how digital technologies can transform healthcare. If you care about digital health adoption, you will want to watch the whole thing.

What Flavor is Your Buyer Collective?

The atomic unit of ABM and B2B Marketing is the target account. The sub-atomic unit is the Buyer Collective, the group of stakeholders at a prospective account involved in the buying process.

The Buyer Collective includes a champion who often leads the buying process and typically initiates the need. Multiple influencers can shape the purchase decision. And a decision-maker who is responsible for approving the recommendation. There may even be multiple of these.

As we plan marketing strategies, we all tend to think of a typical buyer collective with a champion person, a small group of influencers, and a clear decision-maker.

The reality is something else.

Typical Buyer Collectives Are Rarely Typical

In 2012, I founded a healthtech firm. We sold a clinical communications solution that improved provider-to-provider communication. This solution was adopted across 50+ hospitals and used by over 50,000 clinicians.

The sale was incredibly complex as our customers wanted to minimize the number of communication solutions they used. It had to meet the needs of physicians and nurses across all facilities, and IT had to feel confident that we could meet their security and integration requirements.

Sales cycles averaged nine months. Some deals lasted more than 18 months. And while the buyer collectives included the same cast of characters (IT leadership, nursing executive, physician executive, CMIO, innovation lead), the cast of influencers varied.

The biggest challenge was that the Buyer Collective was not predictable. There was variability in who the champion would be and who the influencers were. Moreover, there were often cases where the roles shifted through the process.

Here are some examples.

Four Buyer Collective Examples

Large Regional Healthcare System (16 Hospitals)

Large healtyhcare system Buyer Collective

This was the biggest deal we sold. We were introduced to the Chief Innovation Officer of the newly merged organization. He was a physician and a leading light in the Oncology world. He looked at everything through a clinical lens. He handed us off to the VP of innovation. She was a fantastic champion. She coached and navigated us through the newly merged organization so that we met the right people at the right time, leading to a pilot.

IT leaders, the Chief Medical Officer, and nursing leadership were influencers but not decision-makers.

Her timing was impeccable. At the end of the process, a new CIO and new head of digital experience joined the organization just as the deal was about to be converted. They were not fans and wanted an Epic solution rather than ours. Despite their resistance, our champion got us over this last hurdle by getting the highly influential Chief Innovation Officer to push the deal through. He had bought into the improvements we could make from a clinical operations perspective, which tipped the deal over the edge. This converted to a seven-figure contract.

Large Tertiary Hospital (600 Beds)

Large tertiary hospital buyer collectiveThis was an early opportunity for us. My partner had worked for the Chief Medical officer. This CMO loved our application and got us in front of the hospital leadership. Nearly all were on board.

There was one holdout, the CIO. He wanted to bring another solution he had used at a different organization. He took control of the process and handed this over to the Application Director to run the process. The Application Director became our quiet champion. He was trusted by the whole organization and ran a disciplined vetting process that involved meeting with influencers, including the Medical Executive Committee, Nursing Leadership, and other IT team members. Through this process, he became a fan of our solution, and he persuaded the CIO to get on board.

They became a longstanding customer who still uses the app today.

Small Regional Healthcare System (Three hospitals)

Small healthcare system Buyer CollectiveThis was the closest to a “typical” Buyer Collective that I believe we ever experienced. The IT executive was the champion, and the influencers were managed through a structured process.

We met the CIO and his team, who liked our solution. They vetted us against the competition. He then had us present it to the Medical Executives, and once they endorsed our app, we presented it to the CEO and his Leadership team, who gave the green light.

Regional Healthcare System and Academic Medical Center (2 Hospitals)

Academic MC Buyer CollectiveMy last story is about a loss. In this case, we were introduced to the CEO by our chairman, who was his trusted advisor. The CEO spent much time with us to ensure we could help him make a solid business case before recommending us to the rest of the organization.

The CIO then took over the process. He ran a highly structured process where several options were evaluated. Despite strong support from the CEO and many physicians, the nursing staff wanted a different solution. We were unable to sway the nursing executives. They convinced several key physician influencers why they should go with the competitor. In the end, they opted for the competitor. The CIO made the recommendation to the CEO, who accepted the proposal.

Two Flavors of Buyer Collective

After a couple of years of selling our solution, we started to see a pattern of two Buyer Collective Archetypes, two flavors, if you will.:

  1. Clinically-led – The initial champion was a clinician, typically a physician, and IT was an influencer. They would often hand off to IT to manage the process, but the decision was based on the impact on clinical operations. We would win most deals if we could check all of the IT requirement boxes.
  2. IT-led – The champion was the CIO or VP of Applications. Typically, the primary requirement was technical (e.g., HIPAA-compliant texting), and the process was structured. Clinicians were involved and highly influential, but IT was in charge throughout.

Implication for Marketers

Revisiting these stories was interesting for me. Several things stand out to me as I look at them through the lens of account-based marketing.

  1. Different Buyer Collectives = Different Playbooks: It took time for us to figure it out, but when we realized there was a pattern to the Buyer Collectives, we developed different strategies. We adapted to this by creating different playbooks for each. My partner, a physician (and an amazingly great sales guy) would manage the clinically-led deal, and I took the IT-led deals.
  2. Champions are not always whom you expect: As you can see, someone in IT was typically the champion, but not always. In some cases, the champion changes. As a marketer, you have to market to a larger group of stakeholders than you expect. If you use personas, it’s essential to have personas for each possible champion and a few influencers who may also be champions.
  3. Buying processes are not always structured and logical: The process can be amorphous and unpredictable, which can work to your advantage. When you are early into the buying process with a target account, the buying process will be much less likely to be well organized. Using ABM and intent data can help you get in early, but at that point, the buyers will still be figuring out what they want. You can get an inside track by educating them on what they should be looking for.
  4. You must build a fan base for your solution:  Brand awareness and reputation matter. The most significant resistance we faced was that we were not Epic or one of a handful of well-known competitors. We were told that we had the better solution by our champions, but many influencers were predisposed toward other solutions, and they had yet to hear of us.
  5. Go narrow and then broad in generating demand: One of the key principles of ABM is to focus on a defined Target Account List. Ideally, you’ll want to focus on a narrow list of best-fit accounts. Within each account, you need to market more widely to a large group of stakeholders, possibly fifty or more in larger accounts. You have to do this to build awareness across all the stakeholders who may be involved later in the buyer collective. You need to blitz the Buyer Collective.  Again this is about building fan bases across the buyer collective before the buying process begins.
  6. Keep marketing to the buyer collective throughout the sale cycle: Once you have a deal in the process, double down on marketing to the organization. This may sound counterintuitive when a deal is already in play, but there is good reason to do this. Firstly, sales processes last a long time. Competitors may come into play. In addition, the buyer collective changes over time, and new influencers get involved late in the process. In some cases, the champion changes. You improve your chances of winning the deal by ensuring that anyone involved in the long period you are being evaluated knows who you are and what you do for them.

By the way, a fantastic book on this topic is The Challenger Customer. It’s well worth reading.

This post was also posted on LinkedIn.

An ABM Journey – Kelly McDermott, CMO of Caregility

Over the last two years, Kelly McDermott, Chief Marketing Officer of Caregility, has guided this leading virtual care firm through the ABM journey. They have transformed the way they market to a full-scale ABM model.

I interviewed Kelly for the latest episode of the Healthtech Marketing Podcast. It was a highly insightful conversation about what it takes to transition an organization to ABM. This meant moving from traditionally siloed B2B sales and marketing teams into a more joined-up system where sales, marketing, SDRs, and customer success work together to engage the buyer collectives of a small number of target accounts.

Caregility sells a telehealth-based in-patient system, and they target the largest healthcare systems, specifically the 282 organizations with more than 500 hospital beds. Their sales cycles are complex and can last a year or longer. Buyer Collectives are very large.

Why Did Kelly Start The ABM Journey?

In this short excerpt, Kelly explains why ABM made so much sense for them to embrace. The disruption caused by the pandemic delayed starting this until 2021.

Initially, Kelly read a great deal about ABM and researched the platforms. She wanted to find a platform that would be flexible enough for her to use intent data terms that would align with their unique needs.

They selected Demandbase and integrated it with their website so that they could get even deeper insights into buyer behavior.

Critical Lessons from Kelly’s ABM Journey

The key lesson from the last two years is that while technology is essential, the people and process side of the ABM journey is far more important. She summed this up best, referencing a famous blog post from 2006 by Avanish Kaushik – For every ten dollars you spend on technology, you should spend ninety dollars on people to support the change this enables.

In Kelly’s case, one of the keys to the success of their ABM journey was moving one of the team into a full-time ABM demand generation role. This person took the lead in standing up Demandbase, integrating this with the website and other systems, and, most importantly, managing the process.

After a couple of false starts and a very thoughtful and deliberate strategy, Caregility has ABM working at scale.

What Was The Biggest Change?

One of the biggest changes on this ABM Journey was the addition of Sales Development Reps (SDRs). Kelly realized early on that this would be critical to their success and added SDRs to her team. They work alongside the other marketers and the sales account managers to pinpoint opportunities and move them along the pipeline.

This created the additional benefit of building the “Farm Team” of future sales account managers.

The whole process has become more collaborative between sales and marketing using the information in their ABM platform to identify engaged accounts, create opportunities and build a faster-moving pipeline.

What’s next in the ABM Journey?

As acquiring new accounts is becoming more systematic, the next stage is to focus on existing customers to build a “Land and Expand” approach. This involves Customer Success more actively as part of a total customer growth team.

You can listen to the podcast here. Here is a video of the interview.

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

How To Create a Buyer Journey – Slideshare

Buyer Journeys are the foundation of a customer-centric approach to marketing. They are hard to do well.

We have seen many companies struggle to get beyond personas. Others create buyer journeys that follow the complete buying cycle, but they lack customer insight and don’t help much.

We feel that buyer journeys are worth the effort to do well.

  1. Here are some things we believe are fundamental to creating a useful buyer journey:
  2. Document Buyer Collectives that reflect how each of your ICPs buys
  3. Create personas for the buyer champions and a few influencers. But these are just the start
  4. Design the journey for each persona around how THEY buy, not how YOU market (hint: we think AIDA reflects the latter not how customers buy)
  5. Gather as much insight as you can from many different sources. Do customer interviews.
  6. Be detailed. Expect that these will be long (maybe even a little overwhelming)
  7. Then build your content and tactical marketing plan around these

Below is a bit more detail on how this is done.

Check out this post for more details.

What Does a Fully Scaled ABM Engine Look Like?

Last week, we described a low-cost model for ABM, a way to get started with ABM without having to invest zillions of dollars on ABM platforms and additional capabilities. In this week’s post, we look at the other end of the spectrum, i.e., what a fully scaled ABM engine looks like.

Technology – The Heart of the Fully Scaled ABM Engine

The biggest change is the tech stack. We know of organizations using ABM at scale with 60-plus tools in their tech stack. There is some justification for this. As you grow your ABM capability, you will need to automate more and increasingly sophisticated marketing workflows. These are too complex and labor-intensive to do without automation.

Some more advanced ABM organizations split their budgets: a third on staff, a third on program dollars, and a third on tech stack. The tough thing to explain to your management is that spending several hundred thousand dollars on additional software will save you from having to spend more in the other two areas. Done well, your tech stack enables a much more efficient marketing model.

There is a perception that ABM is just about buying new toys for marketing. The challenge is convincing management that ABM is as strategically important and as operationally critical as an ERP, workforce, or payroll system.

Here are some of the components of a fully capable ABM tech stack:

Intent data (e.g., Bombora and ZoomInfo) – When you purchase an ABM platform, it will come with intent data. We believe it is also worth purchasing third-party intent data separately. This is because you will want your sales and SDR teams to have direct access to it. The best way to do this is to integrate it directly into the CRM (i.e., where SDRs do their work). Note: You will not be successful if you expect sales and SDR team members to access this in the ABM platform. They simply will not use it unless it is seamlessly part of their workflow.

The ABM platform – The various ABM platforms (Terminus, Demandbase, 6sense, RollWorks, Triblio) have many similarities. Each has its own pros and cons, but at its heart, they are ABM workflow engines. They are designed to automate the way you interact with prospects across the buyer journey in a more intelligent and efficient way. They make it simple for you to react automatically to changes in buyer behavior so that when a buyer signals intent, they can be presented with ads, content, and messages that address where they are in the buyer journey and what their specific issues are at that time. These platforms are designed to help you deliver the right message to the right buyer at the right time. They also make it easy for you to track buyers moving through your pipeline and respond smartly to accelerate through to a conversion. Currently, this cannot be done with a CRM or marketing automation system.

Enterprise-grade CRM – This is the system of record for sales. Simply put, you cannot operate at scale without one. Integrating your CRM with your ABM platform is a must-do, as it is essential in creating a seamless working relationship between sales and marketing.

Marketing automation system – Your ABM platform can automate many of the aspects of marketing, such as ad targeting. However, it does not currently do all that you need in terms of marketing automation. You will need a system like Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce, Pardot, or possibly HubSpot to run automated email and social media at the required scale and frequency.

Personalization tools – Personalization is a key principle of ABM. Your ABM platform provides some level of personalization in what messages are delivered to whom and at what time. There are additional tools to consider for your SDRs. For example, Uberflip makes it easy for your sales and SDR team to create personalized 1:1 landing pages on the fly. There is also a tool in Terminus (the tool was formerly known as Sigstr) that embeds a targeted ad banner in your email signature. This allows you to advertise specific messages to different buyers in your email.

Media channels – Most of the ABM platforms include a demand-side ad platform that allows you to run hyper-targeted display ads across the internet. You can also use these platforms to run ads across other digital channels, such as streaming services on TV (like Hulu) or streaming apps (like Spotify). This creates an opportunity to break through the clutter of websites and reach buyers in ways that cut through the noise.

Staffing – The Engineers

The second area where you will need to invest more is staffing. Two roles will become essential to run Total Customer Growth at scale:

ABM manager – You may need to have someone on the team whose full-time job is ABM. They will be the subject-matter expert on ABM; be responsible for campaign strategy, ensuring that campaign parameters are set up appropriately in your ABM platform; and work with the rest of the team to educate and assist with ABM campaigns. They should also be on the cutting edge of tools and techniques to evaluate. Early on in your ABM evolution, these responsibilities may be part of someone’s job, but as you grow your ABM capabilities, it will become evident that you need someone in a full-time role.

Marketing operations – This person is like Scotty in Star Trek. They run the engine room of your ABM system. They oversee the ABM platform, marketing automation system, data management, and integration with other systems, like the CRM. They work in concert with sales operations. In some firms, marketing operations is part of sales operations. They are also responsible for creating dashboards and reports needed to keep ABM programs moving.

ABM increases the need for content. So, in addition to these roles, you should expect to scale up your specialist roles, such as content writers, designers, video producers, and social media experts.

Is it Worth It?

There is a good reason why ABM is considered expensive, as I think we have shown above. However, most ABM practitioners report that the ROI is very positive. In addition to measurable improvement in sales there are soft benefits too. For example, sales and marketing work more collaboratively and efficiently. It also makes it possible to forecast sales with a higher degree of confidence.

If this is a journey you are thinking about taking, give us a shout. We can help.

Originally posted on LinkedIn