How to transform three major ABM challenges into advantages

June 30, 2021 | Blog, Resources

Summer of ABM keynote reveals surprising challenges unique to enterprise ABM — from team to technology — and how they can be best addressed.

High-performing Account Based Marketing (ABM) is now fully omnichannel — and perhaps surprisingly, it’s enterprise companies that face the steepest hurdles when it comes to leveraging the new opportunities that abound. But as Steven Casey, vice president and research director at Forrester, detailed in a recent webinar hosted by MRP, enterprise firms with the right technology can transform challenges into advantages to realize their full ABM potential.

In the webinar, offered as part of MRP’s “Summer of ABM” event series, Casey said the global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated existing momentum toward omnichannel ABM. Forrester data shows that less than three percentage points separate the top 10 channels in a ranking of sources B2B buyers use to discover and research potential vendors — indicating that companies must be fluent in multiple modalities and use all the touchpoints at their disposal to connect with prospects and serve them the relevant content that drives purchase decisions. 

The ability to collect and interpret digital data signals across channels is key to ensuring that offerings meet prospects’ needs. A “single view of the customer,” which has been discussed theoretically for years, can now be a reality, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that can help B2B firms gather, interpret, and derive insights from vast troves of data in real time. 

Even with these advances, companies need a strong commitment to unified data to make effective ABM a reality. Beyond the will and the ability to invest, global enterprise B2B companies face additional unique challenges — which coexist side by side with their biggest strengths. Enterprise firms have:

– A complex organization – with a multi-layered tech stack to match: Size is often used as a gauge for defining enterprise companies, but Casey said more important than specific earnings or headcounts is the complexity of the organization. Enterprise companies have diversified offerings with standalone business units to support them, often with locations across the globe.

As a corollary, enterprise companies are already engaged in sophisticated marketing activities using multiple technologies — which brings a heightened challenge as companies attempt to unify and leverage data. Often, some or all of the systems are commercial products or even home-grown solutions that make scaling functionality or integration with other tools a tough challenge.

– Mature sales and marketing teams: Forrester survey data  shows tat enterprise companies rely on one-to-one account management and tend to lag smaller firms when it comes to more broadly targeted ABM execution. That’s because enterprise companies often have a well-established, sales-driven culture accustomed to marketing serving in a supporting role, as well as a larger collection of existing execution channels.

With the advent of data-driven ABM, that relationship needs to change, with marketing and sales collaborating in an equal partnership to identify, prioritize, and pursue the best leads. Managing that change is a key hurdle for enterprise firms, according to Casey, with Forrester data showing that more large enterprise firms than small companies say “lack of sales buy-in” is a challenge to ABM success.

– A wealth of first-party data from existing customers: Enterprise companies with multiple divisions generate significant growth from selling upgrades, enhancements, and new products or services to existing customers. Those customers already have user profiles based on activity on the company’s web site, within its support forums, and other wholly-owned platforms. In theory, this trove of information puts enterprise companies at an advantage, as they don’t need to rely on third-party data culled from activity across the web to target these accounts.

But the trick for large firms is in accessing and knitting together that internal data. For example, if different business units are using different systems and collecting different data signals based on different priorities or even regional cultures, then accessing the information to create a unified profile becomes a complicated task. For that reason, enterprise firms rated usability and integration of data as among their top ABM challenges.

To transform these complications into advantages, Casey said, companies should seek out an ABM platform that offers a unified solution. The platform should offer AI-powered intelligence and real-time data management capabilities in order to process and interpret millions of incoming data signals, and have customers running successful ABM programs to prove it. 

Operational scale is also crucial: potential vendors should be operating in geographic regions companies want to target, and should allow for localization of not just ABM campaigns, but also the instances of the platform itself, to enable individual business units to maximize utility — while still offering the ability to centralize and unify data across the entire organization.

To view a recording of the Forrester webinar and to see upcoming “Summer of ABM” offerings, visit www.summerofabm.com. And to see how MRP’s Prelytix platform uniquely serves the needs of enterprise business, schedule a demo at https://www.mrpfd.com/request-a-demo/

Read Next…