Adopting a buying group framework for your basic ABM strategy

All marketers can agree that a cohesive buying journey across all touch points and channels is essential. The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to ten decision makers and they are moving outside the marketing funnel by changing the way they research and purchase products.

As marketers, we need to reach as many of these buyers at the moments that influence their decisions. However, the buying journey and touch points aren’t always that easy to identify or see.

For one of our clients, an analysis of their last 5 large closed deals (example below) revealed that very few buyers are using contact forms and speaking with sales. Much of the experience occurred through ungated assets and visits that weren’t visible at the time. The analysis reinforced the importance of aligning all elements of marketing strategy, channel management, and messaging with the decision makers’ journey.

the real buyer journey

It also raised serious questions over whether they should gate or ungate content. Want to know more about this long-awaited and much-needed debate? Read our blog post ‘Demand Generation: The end of forms’.

By understanding these buying signals, marketers can build an ABM framework that can be activated at an account level, to influence the buying group at the right time, with the right message.

Accounts that display this intent can then be dropped directly into the ABM framework.

It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about tightening the screws
By evolving the ABM strategy with a newfound focus on the decision-making group, marketers will be able to secure buy-in from all key stakeholders. This will help build a case of purchase from the get-go. As buyers in these key accounts often come from different departments, it’s more important than ever to speak with specific people who make purchase decisions.

By crafting buying group personas marketers can create a more person-based marketing approach as part of their account-based framework.

Overcoming the buying group blindness
Identify who you think the group is, but allow for the option to appeal to others around the edges.

The secret is in improving your messaging sophistication, since people in buying groups are anything but homogeneous. Even though the buying groups are working towards the same business goals, they are unique individuals who are using different methods to get there. Using case studies, reports, and guides are great, but layer these with specific ad messaging for your buyer’s persona.

Use the buyer personas and insights to develop templates for ads, reports and comms ready to drop accounts into as they show intent.

When do you use this framework?
The framework can be used when you have large accounts with multiple decision makers or if the head of departments are influenced by a technical team doing a pilot.

How soon can an account be dropped into this framework?
There are several signs you can track to understand whether the ABM framework can be applied to the account in question.

When the prime buyer indicates an opportunity for a pilot (this is an easy one to identify) but the head of department owns the budget.
Prospects website activity has a high level of activity and traffic
When you can see a spike in activity with your brand, to see this you can use intent tools such as Cyance, Bombora, 6sense, TechTarget, etc.
As part of a competitive tender process (deal-based marketing)
For example, our client saw a spike in activity on their website from their key accounts before sales engagement occurred, using marketing automation platforms such as ZoomInfo and HubSpot. By monitoring similar activity on the website, they are now able to identify accounts that might be gearing up to buy who they could start targeting.

How do you measure success?
There are four key things to measure if you use this framework:

Coverage: Having the relevant people identified for each persona and each product
Engagement: The right departments/seniority are viewing or engaging to your ads/messages
Relationships built in the account: The buying group are now connected to sales teams and you are engaging with them
Revenue: This can take 12-18 months to develop so focus on other metrics in the early stage to demonstrate the impact
There is a lot of pressure for marketers to prove ROI within months of their ABM programmes, take a look at our look blog post ‘Measuring ROI from ABM’ to understand how marketers can deliver on their promises, analyse and measure their ABM programme effectively.

The evolution of the B2B buying journey means that marketers need to adjust the way they speak to their customers and view the change as an opportunity to be speaking to the right people, at the right place, at the right time, giving them the information and support they need to make the right decisions.

Are you ready to adapt your ABM framework?
We’re here to help. Modern has a dedicated ABM team and a great track record to enable you to close that high-value prospect. Contact us today.