B2B Marketing Tips: How to Create a Successful ABM Target List

Let's be clear: account-based marketing is high-stakes. You could spend months on a single customer, and every piece of messaging you have needs to be a knockout.

If you do it right, ABM can be a huge success. In fact, companies that use ABM increase their annual contract value by an average of 171%.

Before you dive into your content and sales strategies, though, remember this: it all goes to waste if you don't get in front of the right people. As it turns out, finding the right people is harder than it sounds in B2B marketing.

If your target list isn't full of companies that are a great fit for your product, start from scratch and use these tips.

Finding the Right Companies

Before you gather your contacts, you need to zero in on the best companies to target. These strategies can help you create a solid plan and a well-defined target list.

1. Create a Priority List

Before you can find the best companies to target, you need to know what criteria you're looking for. All this takes is a focused brainstorming session.

The key is to have a tiered list of priorities. There will be certain qualities your targets must have, other qualities they should have, and more qualities you'd like them to have.

For example, let's say your product is a software for automotive dealerships. Based on your price point, your top tier of priorities could be the business type (auto dealerships) and a revenue of $10 million per year.

Next, you can establish your second-tier priorities. They might include the business's location and the number of employees it has.

Finally, your third tier could include the types of customers the dealership services. For instance, maybe you prefer dealerships that sell luxury cars or commercial vehicles.

2. Use a Shrinking Filter

Now that you have your list of priorities, you can use it to create a tiered list of targets too.

Start by making a list of all the businesses you can find that meet your top priorities. In the example above, that includes all auto dealerships with $10 million or more in revenue.

Next, take a look at your second set of priorities. Find that data for each company on your list. Every time you find a company that meets those criteria, move them to a separate list.

Finally, you've arrived at the third set of priorities. Go through your second list of companies and create a third list of all those that meet your third set of priorities.

Now you have three separate lists. You have a list of companies who meet all your criteria. Those are your top-tier targets.

Your list of companies that meet your first and second priorities will be tier two. The companies that only met your first set of criteria are tier three.

3. Research the Pain Points

With your tiered list of targets, you can prioritize even more based on the companies' needs. The first targets to focus on should be those who have the most need for your product.

For example, let's say your product is cybersecurity software. A few Google searches should tell you which of your targets have experienced public data breaches. Those companies are great prospects because they've seen first-hand the damage a data breach can cause.

Finding the Right People

Your ABM contact list shouldn't be a list of companies alone. It should also detail which employees and leadership staff members you need to contact within each of those companies.

How do you get that information? In the information age, it's easier than you think.

1. Research the Company Structure

For each of your top targets, find out about the company's structure. Who's on their leadership team? Who handles which types of decisions?

You can find out plenty simply by researching the positions that the company has. For example, does the business have a CTO? If so, that's probably the person who makes software decisions. If not, that may fall under the CEO's job description.

Many businesses today have this information on their website. LinkedIn is another helpful tool where you can easily look for and connect with employees at a particular company.

2. Consider Your Connections 

Your first contact within a company doesn't need to be the final decision-maker. If you know someone who works for one of your target businesses, that person is the perfect one to contact first.

It's great if that connection is somewhere in the group of decision-makers for your product. If not, though, they can at least put you in touch with the right people within the organization.

This is one reason why networking is so critical for ABM professionals. A single handshake could open a door to a multi-million-dollar contract.

3. Take Access into Account

Unless you're targeting extremely small businesses, there are probably several people involved in the decision-making process. For example, perhaps you have an accounting tool. That decision might involve the CFO, the controller, and the lead accountant.

A meeting with the CFO might be the ultimate goal because they probably have the final authority. If you wait around until you get that meeting from cold calls, though, chances are that you'll never get in the door.

If you can find the lead accountant on LinkedIn and start to form a connection, though, you'll be in that meeting before you know it. The best way to get into a company is any way that works.

Having several people from the same company on your list can increase your chances of setting the meeting. However, make sure you are reaching out to one person at a time. Your ABM approach becomes less personalized if multiple people from one company get the same emails, phone calls or direct mail from you.

Starting Your Account-Based Marketing the Right Way

As a salesperson, you probably thrive on chatting up leads and building lucrative relationships. That's great, but in account-based marketing, you need to start with the groundwork. It all begins with a well-curated target list.

The tips above can breathe new life into your ABM strategy or start it on the right foot. For an even greater chance for success, find out how ProSales Connection can help.

Dora Fredenburg

Hailing from Croatia, Dora is best known in the office for her deadly side-eye, her love of Instagram dogs, and her relentless pursuit to help her clients grow faster in a way that is both sustainable and good for their customers.

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