Why your ABM programme isn’t accelerating sales


B2B marketers have tired of the ‘outbound lead generation’ numbers game. Diminishing returns = bad odds and they are tentatively placing bets on Account Based Marketing (ABM) to stack the odds back in their favour, especially when it comes to growing high-potential clients and prospects.

Worryingly, not everyone is encouraged by the initial returns. Increasing revenue from key clients and prospects – and faster – is cited as a key ABM objective, but in B2B Marketing’s ABM Benching Marking Report less than 10 percent of marketers surveyed have been able to shorten the sales cycle.

ABM is in its infancy in many B2B organisations – especially outside tech – so you would expect a lag in realising big revenue goals. However, there are a handful of crucial steps to get right at the beginning that can stack the odds in your favour of getting to revenue faster and one in particular that is really easy to get wrong. The personalised proposition.

Your ability to shortcut long B2B sales cycles comes down to the strength of your personalised proposition and the campaigns you build around it – the ability to help clients buy, buy now and buy from you. So what makes a proposition that can accelerate sales?

Building your proposition around what individual clients say they want – expressed demands – is surely the best approach, right? Wrong. In B2B, a proactive – rather than responsive – proposition significantly increases the odds of getting to revenue faster. Showing clients new ways to make money, reduce costs and mitigate risk that they have yet to spot is the single biggest thing that drives purchase – a whopping 53%, compared to brand (19%), client service and product delivery (19%) and price (9%).

How to create a personalised proposition that sells

The key to creating a personalised proposition that sells is being able to answer these four questions:

#1 Why should your client/prospect care about what you have to say?

Most propositions are generic and do not drive action. Uncovering new opportunities tied to business critical goals is proven to engage clients quicker and drive purchase faster, in complex B2B sales.

Firstly, identify your client’s high level strategic goals and prioritise those that are the most business critical. Secondly, diagnose how they could be more successful in the pursuit of these goals – a new call to action that highlights what they should start doing, stop doing, do differently that would get better results.

#2 Why should they believe you?

B2B purchases are often high-value, involve multiple stakeholders and are therefore high-risk. A strong evidence-backed business case is needed to convince and give confidence to buyers, that the new call to action you are championing is the right one. Without this, you may have sparked their interest but haven’t convinced them to buy.

Use research to gather evidence that will help quantify in monetary terms – or using other meaningful metrics – the potential gain expected by pursuing this new course of action, or the loss if they chose to ignore it.

#3 Why should they act now?

The B2B sales cycle is long, therefore, your proposition needs to create a sense of urgency – if you don’t act now, the consequences mean you won't reach your goal. As part of your business case, you need to build in a compelling and critical requirement to act now.

#4 Why should they buy from you?

You need to create new opportunities only you can win. If clients and prospects can make the changes you’re suggesting themselves – or competitors are better placed to help – they won’t buy from you. Your proposition must shine a light on your distinct capabilities.

Identify what your distinct capabilities are that make you best placed – over the competition – to help your clients respond to this new call to action you've uncovered.

To stack the odds in favour of your ABM programme shortening the sales cycles – and getting to revenue faster – go beyond a proposition that simply responds to client’s known demands. Focus on: uncovering new ways your client could be more successful in the pursuit of their most critical business goals; building a strong evidenced-based business case; and articulating how you are best placed to help.

For more on how to get to a client-tested proposition that sells in five days, take a look at my colleague Alex’s blog: Three new routes to building winning campaigns in eight weeks (or fewer).

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