Last week, we asked, do you need an ABM Platform? If you came to the conclusion that you did, the obvious next question is what to look for in an ABM Platform. This post is designed to help you formulate your ABM Platform requirements.
(I want to give Ben Person a big shout-out for his help in writing this. The guy is a fricking ABM Jedi Master)
When you review the leading ABM platforms, from Demandbase, Terminus, 6Sense, Triblio, Rollworks, and others, they have several functions in common. The biggest thing is that they help you take the guesswork out of marketing.
Let’s break down the functions of an ABM Platform. We suggest you build an ABM Platform Requirements checklist with these main functions.
1. Account Intelligence
Account intelligence is the foundation of ABM. Your ABM platform should simplify your ability to find the right accounts in the market and look for solutions, engage with those accounts, close those deals faster and measure it all.
This will require bringing together different types of buyer behavior data, including your first-party intent data from your website analytics and third-party intent data. The key thing is that whatever sources you use should help you understand which accounts are in the market for your category of products before they raise their hand. In addition, your ABM platform should help you identify accounts that are coming to your website anonymously.
The more sophisticated platforms use artificial intelligence to provide even greater insight into what customers and prospects are interested in. Some also include firmographics, including industry revenue, employee and account location, financials, etc. Check if they include account hierarchies with parent and child account mapping.
Some even help you discover new accounts and expand your total addressable market. Their recommendation engines will show you which accounts you should focus on and help you easily add those to your CRM.
Typically, third-party intent data only provides account-level info so you will need a way to source contact information for key buyers for target accounts. This should include privacy-compliant contact data that helps you identify and contact decision-makers across the buying team, including name, title, role, email, mobile, phone, and social.
All this account insight must appear in several key places to make this actionable. In addition to being in the ABM platform, the most important information should also feed into your marketing automation system and your CRM. Why? So that you can use it to run campaigns and so that your sales execs and SDRs get that insight into the platform where they do their work. This is important. You will be more successful by minimizing disruptions in how the sales team works.
When you evaluate, these platforms have multiple use cases and scenarios mapped out so that when the ABM platform vendor demos, you can ask them to slice and dice the data to create account lists in a way appropriate for your organization.
2. Account Prioritization and Predictive Analytics
One of the most important ABM Platform requirements is using account intelligence to prioritize target accounts. A good ABM platform will make it easy for you to find and prioritize your ideal accounts. First, you should be able to easily create customer lists and segments for your accounts and the people at those accounts that are part of the buying process. This includes choosing from the most common attributes like company size, revenue, industry, geography, and technologies.
Some ABM platforms include qualification scoring that uncovers your best-fit accounts and allows you to rank and segment your total addressable market easily. This will enable you to prioritize your time on the best opportunities. Some even include a predictive model that can quantify the chances of an account becoming an opportunity.
They use machine learning to find patterns that precede opportunities, e.g., a spike in intent or engagement, and then automatically and continuously look for similar patterns at other perspective accounts and your current customers. This lets sales teams prioritize outreach on accounts with a higher probability of converting.
A key ABM platform requirement is to track where an account is in its buyers’ journey. This is critical. You will implement campaigns partly based on where an account is in its buyer journey. The journey stage will be the core of your campaigns, allowing you to know what and when to market to an account.
3. Orchestration & Personalization
ABM campaigns are about engaging intelligently with your accounts at the right time and in the right way as efficiently as possible. As you design your ABM platform requirements, you need to include how the system allows you to orchestrate interactions across channels and systems and use targeted advertising and website personalization to attract and engage the right people in the correct accounts.
The dashboard should allow you to create target audience segments, for example, taking all accounts in the awareness or problem definition stage and putting them on a campaign list. Or take all buyers group members engaged with vendor evaluation-oriented marketing content and push them into a direct mail or gifting campaign.
You will want to sync your account and people list to third-party advertising destinations like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so that you can orchestrate a multi-channel advertising approach. This way, your ads can update automatically as accounts move through the journey or enter new segments.
Ask the vendor how you can use their platform to orchestrate campaigns across all of these channels:
- Social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
- Display ads
- Direct mail
- In-person events and conferences
Several of these platforms also provide a demand-side advertising platform (DSP) to automatically manage ad impressions’ delivery. This may be one of your optional ABM platform requirements. Ask the vendor how they can maximize your programmatic spending.
Also, how do they handle brand safety so ads are only served on a publisher whitelist?
In more advanced campaigns, you should be able to connect to streaming services like Hulu, Spotify, Disney+, etc., so that you can reach the buyer wherever they are with personalized ads.
You will want to know how the platform measures ROI and can determine the impact of a campaign. This is one of the most important ABM platform requirements.
Most importantly, you need to understand how each platform handles personalization. How will the platform improve how your accounts receive a relevant experience when they visit your website, are driven by an ad, or arrive organically? Can it help you personalize the website based on their journey stage and create tailored experiences that will improve conversion?
4. Improving Sales Conversion
Account intelligence needs to be at the fingertips of your sales, right inside CRMs like Salesforce. Getting marketing, sales, and customer success alignment is among the highest priority ABM platform requirements. Having these groups in the same CRM system, they use today and not requiring they go into another system for ABM will be a key to the adoption and success of the ABM program.
Ideally, your ABM platform will automatically populate account info in the CRM with information that will make the sales AE and SDR better informed, e.g., account hierarchies, news alerts, social alerts, and buying intent signals.
This will help your sales team reach out more reasonably and make it easier to impress them with knowledge about leadership changes, financial results, and other key news that may drive a compelling event.
More importantly, the sale team should have a single view that displays intent signals from third-party intent data and engagement insights such as website visits, email interactions, etc. Ideally, the ABM platform or your CRM will aggregate email, phone, and in-person communication history. Ask them how the platform empowers the salesperson through better insights. A strong Revops (revenue operations) or Marops (marketing operations) person will be a key resource to making this successful. Hiring the right operations person for this job will be key to your ABM program.
Some platforms offer web plugins so that when a salesperson is prospecting on LinkedIn, they get more complete contact details, including email addresses and direct and mobile phone numbers.
Suffice it to say that the ABM platform should also have customizable alerts for important information, such as highlights to the most engaged accounts with the highest pipeline predict scores, top intent, keywords, and key engagement signals from your open opportunities.
Lastly, how can the platform help customer success managers? This is one of the ABM platform requirements that is often overlooked. They should also be able to see changes within their accounts and quickly respond to opportunities or threats, such as the loss of a champion, expansion into new markets, rising or falling profits, etc. The platform should also help identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities for growth or help you know when a customer might consider a competitor.
The last important ABM platform requirement is how it allows you to measure your ABM activities. In this post, we reviewed the ABM Measurement Framework.
At a basic level, you need to see which accounts are visiting which pages of your website with account identification and associated demographics. Ideally, this can feed into other platforms you might be using.
You need to show how you are driving demand, how you are driving the right types of traffic, and where your target accounts are coming from. The systems should help you understand the behavior of individual accounts, personas, and buying groups, all at a granular level as well as at an aggregate level. In addition, how does the platform display engagement?
You want to see across a buyer journey, measure engagement across your accounts, and track how they move through the buying journey with conversion rates and velocity metrics to understand where they get stuck.
For advertising campaigns, you need to be able to see where every impression was served and which ads have been most successful. In aggregate, how your programs and campaigns across all your marketing channels are performing.
ABM Platforms can do a great deal that is hard or impossible with other marketing platforms. Marketing Automation Systems like Hubspot and CRMs do some of these but not as well as the ABM Platforms.
In formulating your ABM Platform Requirements, it is important to have a sound strategy in place first. You don’t want to invest the time and budget in buying an expensive platform like with unless you are sure that you are ready to scale up ABM.
Maybe the most important of all the ABM Platform requirements is how it helps you operationalize your strategy. If you are looking for ideas on how to create an ABM strategy, this post will help.
Originally posted on LinkedIn.