How To Get Started With An ABM Pilot?

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Did your organization recently take the ABM readiness test and discovered that it is an excellent match for Account-based marketing (ABM)? In spite of all the impressive evidence, are you still on the fence about it? Is your organization uncertain about the effectiveness of ABM?

All these questions and doubts are valid concerns. There’s no denying the fact that account-based marketing can open the floodgates to sustainable revenue when done correctly. ABM initiatives exceed other marketing investments, according to 87% of ABM marketers. But being plagued by uncertainty about the resources it will take, how much ROI it will generate and what kind of problems it can solve can act as a hurdle. 

And, the best way to clear these doubts is by launching an ABM pilot program. 

Why ABM Pilot?

Running a pilot program with existing resources is a great way to check how a highly-targeted personalized marketing activity would work on your target accounts.  

This will not only help to set realistic goals and expectations from ABM but also scrutinize the resource and organizational readiness ahead of a full ABM campaign.  Based on the outcomes of the pilot program, your company can draw out a plan to invest in the technology, media, data and employees required for a full-scale deployment. 

Are you wondering about how to get started with an ABM pilot before taking a full-fledged dive into it? Fret not, we are here today to guide you. From planning to execution, we’ll explore the key characteristics of a successful ABM pilot program, step-by-step. 

Step 1 – Define Pilot Program Scope

The first step is defining and developing the program scope. The outline should be limited and time-bound with clear goals and expectations so that the team can refer back to for guidance. The scope should include:

  • Duration of the pilot program
  • The team that would work on it
  • Roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • Size of the target accounts

Our team of ABM experts advises starting small. Three months is an ideal time to evaluate the success of the program. Duration less than that is too short to see measurable results and duration more than that runs the risk of falling off track. Narrow down on one sales/account representative and select 5-10 target accounts, which will participate in this trial period. As the pilot program is set in motion during the pre-investment phase where a lot of work has to be done manually without a comprehensive tech stack, it is only practical to keep it small and tight with a set time frame. 

Step 2 – Define Key Metrics

Fight the urge to solve too many problems through the pilot program. It can be tempting to run marketing campaigns that address all sales objectives and problems of the short-listed target accounts. But it is important that you stick to 2-3 key metrics only for each target account. 

The sales representative plays an important role in defining these metrics. Sit with them and assess the launch point, stage of the sales cycle, customer profile, and target buyer insights to figure out the right ABM key performance indicators that you should be looking at. 

Step 3 – Assess The ABM Team

Once the ABM pilot is up and running after defining the scope, goals and key metrics, it is time to assess how the team is functioning. The success of the full-fledged ABM program is highly dependent on how the organization adapts to it; sales & marketing alignment is particularly important. It is a team sport where cross-functional alignment is imperative for successful execution. So keep an eye on the ABM team that is working on the pilot.

Assess how the team is communicating with each other. Find answers to questions such as – Are the roles clearly defined or is there an ambiguity that can create discord? How involved and invested in the sales team in the pilot? 

Step 4 – Check On The Target Accounts

At this stage, look for the early signs of changes within the target accounts and leverage the targeted approach of ABM by customizing the campaign touch-points while the pilot is in motion. You can play with the measurement criteria, customize the touch-point content and fine-tune the reporting requirements as the pilot progresses from month to month. You can also compare the performance of ABM pilot accounts with other similar accounts that are not a part of the ABM pilot to identify any differences. 

Step 5 – Analyze The Results

The final step is to determine if executing ABM at scale makes sense for your business or not by looking at the KPIs of the pilot program. If you noticed positive results, then check if it can be turned into a repeatable process at scale with technology and automation. Can you gain organizational buy-in? What kind of tech stack is required to support more scalable efforts? And how would that impact the ABM budget? If the results were unsatisfactory or inconclusive, then go back to the drawing board and assess the pilot scope and metrics to find the gaps and redevelop a new pilot. 

Account-based marketing is a highly personalized strategy, so it can absorb as many tweaks as required to achieve marketing and sales goals. That’s the beauty of it. If you need any help with your ABM pilot program or need assistance in planning and execution or want more information about where your organization is placed on the ABM readiness scale, then do get in touch with us.

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