Best Strategies for Building ABM Target Account Lists

Any serious B2B marketer can confirm that prospecting is no walk in the park. Even with the support of platforms such as LinkedIn's Decision Maker Insights Report, which analyzes nearly 1.7 million key profiles of the most relevant industries, accessing the right high-quality contacts demands a great deal of effort and commitment from a company.

For this reason, an uprise of 70% of marketers reported the integration of more account-based marketing (ABM) practices in their everyday workflow. This trend shows that personalized content (56%) and advanced data management (43%) are decisive factors in archiving for more profitable conversions.

A top-notch application of an ABM strategy is the building of a target account list (TAL) that contains all the data-qualified accounts that could become a perfect fit for your business in matters of company size, revenue, and technology usage, just to mention the most basic criteria. Keep on reading to learn more about how to create your very own account ABM list.

How to Use Account-Based Marketing for Your Business

Account-based marketing can be defined as a set of marketing strategies that focus only on very specific, highly profitable accounts. To promote the target account selling response, these contacts must go through different validation and classification processes to confirm their value, and once the examination is over, should be targeted with custom-made tactics to ensure their conversion.

There is an essential difference between lead-based marketing and account-based marketing. In the first scenario, the marketing team is in charge of creating content, deploying ads, and alluring leads into their call-to-action (CTA) options. Following that, marketing takes a more supportive role while the sales team begins to work with the generated leads.

However, in target account selling strategies, marketing is in charge of confirming that certain criteria are applied to the lead before pushing it to sales, rather than just delivering a large number of random leads for the sales reps to qualify.

For this to be possible, it is necessary that sales and marketing work together from the beginning. If this pair of natural forces learn how to share and combine their respective insights, they should be able to craft a practical, accurate, and trustworthy ideal customer profile (ICP) for every desired account, which also translates into the foundation for ABM success.

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How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile for ABM

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is an elaborated file that holds the description of a company that not only would be an ideal fit for your product but also has a high chance of becoming your client for a number of reasons.

Similar to a buyer persona, this simple yet powerful tool helps organizations to highlight relevant information about their contacts, such as the titles of the decision-makers that need to be targeted, geographic area, number of clients owned at the moment, type of industry, technologies used, revenue, and more.

The more data an ICP has, the more it will help an organization to fully understand how, when, and where it's best to deploy its marketing and sales strategies. The actions needed to complete this data-rich profile tend to be time and resource-consuming, but the following internal practices can help you create a rock-solid ICP.

Best internal practices to create an ICP

“Teamwork” is the name of the game. Every department involved in customer acquisition and management owns a piece of the data puzzle. For this reason, several teams will have to cooperate to create a clear picture of how an ideal customer should feel, look, and sound.

While the needed departments may vary depending on the industry, be sure to at least consider the following for your brainstorming session:

  • Finance department: No one knows which type of client is the most profitable better than finance. This crew should be able to provide detailed data on the revenue brought by every customer. Analyzing this information will build your ABM strategy with great ideas on what industries, brands, and even upsell possibilities are worth targeting.
  • Customer support: Less support usually means that things are going smoothly with a client. Customer service owns the record of what companies are the easiest to work with . . . and which are the hardest as well. By considering their advice, you also ensure that your staff will be capable of providing healthy relationships with future clients.
  • Sales team: Every ABM strategy craves the “sold themselves” type of customer, and only a sales department can pin down what meetings, phone calls, and emails were crucial for the conversion. To have a solid clue into what companies should be targeted next, use your CRM sales funnel insights as a compass.
  • Marketing team: Last but not least, the marketing team brings a vital point of view to the mix. Reckoning what types of clients have archived the strongest return on investment (ROI) in the past will be extremely helpful in understanding not only what search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies have the best performance but will also give you a decent idea of the size of the needed budget.

Sharing was not fun to learn when we were kids, and it might be an even harder lesson to commit to now that were are professionals. Old-fashioned sales reps may be resistant to give their information away, but all pieces of data gold should eventually come together into the treasure B2B companies value the most: a target account list.

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What Is a Target Account List?

A target account list is the catalog made of all the qualified ICPs that your marketing and sales forces (with the help of every other related department) managed to bring together.

This document should state every detail you know about your ideal customer, for it will serve your team as a step-by-step guide on which company they should reach first, at what time, and through what channel.

Your TAL not only boosts your account-based marketing actions but can also become a stunning source of data-driven decisions by helping you understand what kind of content, ad, or CTA would perform better for every case, turning your follow-up process into a tailor-made experience for each targeted decision-maker

Needless to say that this is precisely the way to go with top-tier ABM contacts.

While some companies decide to buy target accounts out of random data providers, the benefits of working with internal target account selling tactics are vast. Here are just a few examples.

Top Benefits of Building an ABM Target List

Engagement-driven ABM lists have an immediate impact on every B2B lead generation strategy. New meetings, account leads expansion, and account leads retention are some of the most notorious results of a well-structured ABM strategy. 

While it’s not easy to create a stable network among all the internal data holders, the following perks might lure them into lowering their spears and joining the account-based marketing feast:

  • Crystal-clear goals: With a better-defined focus, teams will be able to use their budget, time, and resources more efficiently, resulting in a higher overall return on investment.
  • Liquid workflow: Every team member will have a direct indication of how, when, and where to pull the trigger. The limits of each action will be correctly charted to avoid all unnecessary waste of effort.
  • Aligned workforce: After working together to create the TAL, it is quite common that the communication between sales and marketing grows exponentially, resulting in contact-immersive inbound and outbound actions.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Every B2B company covets to increase the levels of consistency across its buyer’s lifecycle. Personalized follow-ups can only occur when every department commits to conquering the same targets.

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How to Create a Target Account List

Building target account lists involve four crucial steps. The process is simple enough, but each step will require a great deal of data-based decision-making. 

Be sure to give enough deliverance to every stage. Once the list is integrated into your marketing/sales process, you won't be able to make any significant changes until the end of the cycle.

Follow this useful guide to create your TAL:

1. Define your ICP criteria.

As mentioned earlier, ideal customer profiles are the ingredients needed to prepare a tasty target account list. Thanks to the cross information delivered by all involved departments, the marketing team should be able to correctly qualify the value of your ABM contacts depending on certain criteria, like the following examples:

  • Revenue: Confirm that your contact has the capacity to afford your product before scheduling that call. Many companies share their numbers through different platforms; accessing this information will be less or more difficult depending on the industry.
  • Company size: In most cases, the more employees a company has, the more internal and external needs will need to be met. Study the pros and cons of working with different sizes, and define the number of employees that suits your solution.
  • Job roles: Analyzing an organization chart can reveal how intricate the labyrinth is and will allow you to draw a map to reach the cheese. Understand how accessible decision-makers are before kicking the pedals of your campaign.
  • Background: A little historical research is fundamental to discover if your solution has a good chance to succeed. What the company is today and what decisions have been made along the way can provide you with great insight on how to approach it.
  • Geography: Even in today’s digitalized society, terrain advantages are still decisive in certain industries. Be sure not to force your step onto unknown grounds. Always consider the environment that best suits your product and your staff.
  • Technology usage: This trait not only provides a clear image of the digital maturity of the account but also gives you great hints about how your product would be used if acquired. Red flags may wave if the account is not advanced enough for your offer.
  • Industry: It’s no mystery that certain types of businesses may benefit more from your product than others. Creating new necessities to solve is far harder than dealing with the ones that already exist.
  • Customers: If your product can help your client get more clients or upsells, they are already halfway sold. Be sure to examine whatever case study they share to find the weak spots that your solution would be able to reinforce.
  • Competitors: Inquiring about your contact’s direct and indirect rivals could mean a decision-making key factor. Advertise your solution like an ace to go under their sleeves, and teach them how to take advantage of it.

Only you and your team can choose what criteria are more valuable to your business. It is also highly advisable to find out if your contact is already working with one of your competitors. In that case, you will be required to prove what extra benefits they would get if they choose to switch their account to you.

Ideal Customer Profile Criteria

2. Validate your data sources.

For an ICP to hold the detailed traits required to enter your TAL, several research actions will need to be covered to confirm that the gathered data is solid. Whether you decide to use an in-house crew or outsource data solutions, you and your team should be able to blindly trust the data they will be working with.

For this reason, the following types of information should be considered in your ABM research to validate your individual-based outreach, strategies, and decisions:

  • Demographic data: Includes full names, titles, location, phone numbers, and email accounts. Be sure to confirm if this is first-party data, or if it was collected through other sources.
  • Firmographic data: Involves industry type, company size, company reach, ownership style, annual revenue, marketing trends, and general growth information.
  • Technographic data: Refers to the technologies and software that a company uses inside its processes. Web-based integrations, installed apps, and data processing providers are some of the most basic characteristics to watch for. 
  • Psychographic data: Encircles behavioral paths, career trajectories, overall professional specialties, and general interests of the targeted decision-makers.

Consider that whatever piece of data that you have acquired and validated could also be available for your competitors in case they are growing their TALs, or they might have gone the easy way and just decided to buy target accounts out of the blue.

The best way to ensure your high-quality leads will work for your ABM strategy is to segment them in a way only your internal reps would be able to understand, conduct, and trigger.

3. Segment your target accounts.

Now that your ICPs have been consciously picked, qualified, and confirmed, the next step is to organize them depending on several factors that will allow your sales team to action them effortlessly.

The goal of account segmentation is to create hyper-personalized follow-ups to try to engage these potential customers as fast as possible. For this reason, it is advisable to assemble your lead profiles according to the following tiers:

  • Top tier: This represents the top 10% to 20% of your list. These accounts would be the most profitable and have shown significant potential for a fast-paced conversion. You should be focusing your marketing and sales heavy artillery on this section by deploying frequent, direct, and targeted actions with the express intent of closing the business. 
  • Mid tier: This tier will take around 20% to 30% of your list, and it consists of accounts that have shown a decent amount of interest in your product. The sale could occur within the next twelve months, and the decision-makers will need to be reached out at a monthly rate.

    The purpose of the marketing in this tier should be to educate and shape the way the contact understands your product, the need it solves, and your value proposition.
  • Bottom tier: This tier will likely consist of 50% to 70% of your list. These accounts would gain value from your product, but they do not have the intent to purchase at this moment.

    This portion of accounts may have little knowledge of your product or are unsure of how they would benefit from it. The conversion moment with them is far too unclear to foster an active move. More passive actions, like making them sign up for your weekly newsletter, could become a sale eventually.

Now that the account segmentation process is done, the only thing left to do is to make sure you possess all the right tools to squeeze as much lead-conversion juice as you can from your ABM strategy.

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4. Action your account list.

Every B2B company needs to keep its data at bay. Large amounts of unprocessed data, also known as data exhaust, could rack up in the dark corners of your customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

Depending on how many qualified ABM contacts you were able to collect at your TAL, your marketing team could have a tough time with target account management (TAM), for the personalized level actions that need to be deployed can turn out to be too broad.

A customer data platform (CDP) is a resourceful tool that can aid B2B marketing teams to leverage all the accounts inside their internal tiers. Its capability to collect relevant sales and behavioral data while it continues to enhance individual profiles as they evolve in the funnel makes it a mandatory integration for every account targeting strategy.

CIENCE GO Data is a CDP that offers over 300 million records of leads from top-notch industries, validated by a team of sales professionals in real-life campaigns to help companies find, segment, and execute ideal customer profiles. 

By integrating your ABM list to a CDP, you are providing your marketing and sales teams with the ultimate platform to access a clear view of all profiles inside every tier, and the analytics to keep on engaging each contact on the ideal tempo.

Build High-Quality Leads with ABM

New business generation must remain the top goal for every B2B company. With so many data management tools, tested tactics, and fresh marketing approaches out there, it comes down to defining where your business wants to go next.

While having a refined list made out of your most wanted high-quality leads may not guarantee that you will be able to reach all of them on the first try, it certainly is a good place to start.

Whether you choose to cross the insights of all your client-acquisition departments or to outsource a B2B data partner, remember that the only truthful way to test the greatness of your data is to make it work for you. So get that cold call script ready, type down that email response, and encourage your team to tear that contact list apart.

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