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Target Account Selection 101

Marketing Automation Platforms have driven conventional wisdom within B2B marketing over the past decade, leading to an “all accounts are created equal” approach to marketing engagement. If an account has an open opportunity or a lead score of X, they’re typically moved into this email automation flow. This one-size-fits-all approach results in some hard truths:

  • Your marketing messages are only reaching known contacts housed within your CRM.
  • Your emails go unopened—and marketing messages unseen—most of the time.
  • Even with all your hard work as a marketer, your content goes unread and your website unvisited.

All of this is true… Until NOW
When kicking off an ABM program, the number one task is drilling down into your strategically defined Target Accounts (TAs). This way of thinking about the value of individual accounts is hard, and requires a significant pivot from the way established marketing professionals are used to thinking about engagement. ABM requires isolating a strategic set of accounts to focus on exclusively. (I can hear all of the marketers out there going, “Whaaaaaat?”)
How do you even do this?
When thinking about how to select TAs, I help my clients to think about it with an 80/20 perspective. What are the 20-percent of current customers or prospective customers that have the potential to generate 80-percent of your company’s revenue? Since they have the potential to contribute more than their fair share to your bottom line, doesn’t it make sense to give them a more-than-average share of your attention?
So how many accounts are we talking about?
The answer is, perhaps frustratingly: it depends on your business and how the 80/20 rule plays out within it. It could be 10 accounts or maybe 35. I have a client who targets just five accounts. To set your ABM program up for success, it’s imperative to:

  1. know your company’s goals and outlook,
  2. know your client and prospect database,
  3. and to be fully aligned with your sales team.

What else should I consider?
Start by using your target account data to make a list of your top 10 prospective accounts and then your top 10 existing customers. Calculate the total estimated value of these accounts at full potential and compare it to your high-end sales forecast. Do they comprise more than 20%? Less?
Within many industries—especially manufacturing—there is endless opportunity to nurture a group of 10-30 defined TAs with relevant and customized messaging. Most established B2B companies aren’t in the dark when it comes to who wants to buy their products. They know who they’re developing products for (and where the largest market potential lies). Instead, they are in need of ways to engage unknown decision makers within accounts know to have high potential.
Through an optimized and multi-channel marketing plan, you can tailor the buying journey of these key accounts to educate them early in their buying decision. This means that when the account is ready to raise their hand and engage with your company’s representatives, you are leading the pack against your competitors.

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