Account Based Marketing (ABM) has been around for a number of years, I even wrote a chapter about it in my second book "Smarketing - How to achieve competitive advantage through blended sales and marketing"

The theory, (if you didn't know) is very simple.

It's easier to sell to existing clients than new ones, therefore as a business you have a strategy to grow your existing accounts.  In the "old days" this was called "upselling and cross selling" now it's called ABM or if you want to sound a little un customer orientated it's called "growing your share of wallet".

Traditional ABM

Marketing write InMails for sales and marketing create content, that sales inmail to people. 

Marketing create content that reps (sales) post on social media, mostly LinkedIn.  

The problem is, life does not work like this anymore.

There are a number of problems with this

1.  Ask any business leader "what do you do when you get an inmail?" and the answer is "delete it".

I doubt you will get any response from sending inmails

Inmails are no more than "cold calls" on a social network and while LinkedIn promote them, (don't forget they make money from them) they are the preserve of the sales dinosaur and have no place in a modern sales and marketing strategy.

2. The second problem with this is that nobody wants to be sent a corporate brochure, I know you think it's of "value" but I bet it says how great your company is.  Nobody listens to a message that is "buy my product because it's great" and nobody reads white papers created by "brands" because we know they are biased.  We buyers are not fools. 

I know you think your products and services are awesome, the reason for this is that it pays your mortgage.  I have my own products and services and my own mortgage, which is why I'm not interested in yours.  For many marketers this is a revelation .... nobody is interested in your products, your company or your brand.

This all sounds like doom and gloom, so what can you do to transform your ABM program?

The answer is simpler than you might think. 

How to ace your ABM program

Marketing is built today on the theory that LinkedIn is a "professional network" and that's where you go and post stuff about your company.  This, after all is "social selling".  You buyer will come to LinkedIn, read your brochure and think "wow"!

The problem with this is that research shows that people are on social media to be ...... social, they are looking for insight, they are looking to be educated and they are looking to be told things they don't know.

They are not there to read your brochures, I'm really sorry to be the one to break it to you.

How to get engagement with ABM

Salespeople need buyer centric social media profiles

Even if the salespeople do post this “content” as they will have never invested in a personal brand or a network, the content won't go very far.

For an ABM program to “work” the salespeople need to be seen as “trusted” individuals, that means they need to have social profiles that reflect who they are .. human beings.

Most sales people look like .... just another salesperson and none of us trust a word a salesperson says.

There is a joke "how can you tell a salesperson is lying?" "their lips are moving".

Your sales people need to look like people who your customers would turn to for help and advice.

We teach salespeople how to have a buyer centric profile as part of our social selling and influence training and coaching program. 

Salespeople need a network

The other issue with salespeople is that they have never invested in growing a network, their connections on LinkedIn will be x colleagues and recruitment consultants.  As long as you want to sell to a target market of x colleagues and recruitment consultants, fill you boots. 

For ABM to work, your salespeople need to be connected to the relevant people in the accounts you are trying to influence.  I have one sales guy who is connected to 1,000 people in one single account.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  

Now before you you go off and get your sales people to fire off connection requests.  When your salespeople connect with people, the other person needs to want to connect.

A connection request saying "I'm your sales person and want to connect" will be ignored).

We teach salespeople how to connect on social, as part of our social selling and influence training program.  

Let's also not forget that a connection request is also a reason to have a conversation, which is the whole point of this exercise.  Getting your salespeople having conversations with your existing clients.  Conversations lead to sales.

Better still

The third thing is that the salespeople need to create their own authentic content, this will demonstrate their expertise and the way they work.

Your clients, to buy into your company need to buy into your people, not your brochures and with the salespeople sharing their expertise, in content they have written themselves will enable the clients to start, knowing, liking and trusting the salespeople.

Also the engagement that they get will allow the salespeople to have conversations and as we discussed before, conversations create sales.

By empowering your sales team on social will enable you to reap the awards of a ABM program.

Enable the salespeople to have personal brands, get them to build networks in the target amounts and get them creating authentic and insightful content and your influence and sales will grown in those accounts.

We train salespeople how to create content as part of our social selling and influence training and coaching course. 

I may have mentioned above, we are more than happy to help transforming your ABM programs with our digital selling and influence training and coaching. 

What is social selling?

How about tomorrow, I pick you up in my car and I take you to a place where all your prospects hang out?

There is no time limit on how long you spend there, you can have conversations with your prospects all day.

When you arrive at this place with all your prospects how would you approach it?

Grab a coffee and go up to the first one and start a conversation? Yes?

"Have you travelled far?" "How did you get here?" you would find areas of commonality, yes?

As sales people, we all know why.  Because people will know us, like us and trust us.

The other great thing about having a room full of our prospects is that ..... it's a room full of our prospects. 

This is exactly how a social network works.  We have conversations.

You wouldn't walk into the room with all your prospects and go "I'm Tim Hughes and roll up, roll up and buy some social selling and the first 5 people in a line will get a discount".

Of course you wouldn't as somebody would call security.

It's the same impact why nobody likes you sending inmails, why nobody likes you sending pitches as connection requests and nobody likes you sending connection requests and then pitching.  It's spam.  You wouldn't use those behaviours in an analogue social environment so don't use them in a digital social environment. 

Of course, we will teach your sales teams to have highly productive conversations on social that lead to commercial interactions (closed deals) as part of our social selling and influence training and coaching. 

So whose doing this?

In case you missed it, the Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch have banned cold calling and have moved all their people to social selling. This isn't some trendy tech company that might have decided to do this on a whim, this is a very conservative financial services company that has made a decision based on data.

But surely cold calling has a better ROI than social selling?  Not according to Merrill Lynch.

"They will also be encouraged to contact prospects over LinkedIn, which has a higher hit rate than cold calling"

Advertising, cold calling and email marketing isn't fit for purpose in 2021, the world and the buyer has moved on. It's time to switch your budget to social selling.