Part 1 of 2: Overcoming Account-Based Marketing Obstacles in the Channel


The Holy Grail of sales has long been the warm lead. It’s far easier to sell to somebody you already have a relationship with than develop net new leads (if you have the right data).

Yet, when assessing their potential customer base, many suppliers still leave out an entire ecosystem from their marketing efforts: their partners’ customers. That’s where Account-Based Marketing (ABM) can help.

ABM is certainly a hot topic these days. But what is ABM exactly? Without getting too far into the weeds, ABM recognizes that B2B marketing works best when you focus efforts on those accounts most likely to buy, rather than a wide swath of individuals. According to research from SiriusDecisions, more than 90% of companies recognize the value of ABM, calling it a B2B marketing must-have, but only 20% have established ABM programs that have been in place for more than a year.  Fewer still have implemented an ABM program with channel partners.  Yet partners report the majority of their opportunities for supplier’s products or services come from existing customers with whom they have had long-standing relationships.  Launching and maintaining an ABM program may seem daunting, but you can start with a few simple steps.

Identify the Usual Suspects

Industry analysts have claimed for years that a customer you know is three times more likely to take you up on an offer than a customer you don’t know. This makes the known or “usual suspects” of your partners’ customer base extremely valuable. Suppliers must recognize that these customers aren’t net new — at least for the channel partner, and treat them like a known entity. When done right, ABM builds on existing customer relationships by tailoring marketing offers specifically to them. However, you must first overcome several obstacles to make ABM really work.

Get Past the Gatekeeper

Before getting started with ABM, you need to collect data on your partner’s target customers — past purchases, buying behavior, etc. — in order to determine the right marketing approach.  Making things difficult, your partner may be the gatekeeper of that data. Any potential relationship you, as the supplier, will have with the customer is facilitated through your partner, who makes a living selling different supplier solutions to their existing customers. While this perfectly positions your partner to serve as your proxy, you’ll likely need to make a strong case for them to do so.

Surmount any trust issues by showing partners how ABM in the channel will benefit them as well. ABM offers an array of partner benefits, including:

  • Greater wallet share (with the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell more effectively)
  • Enhanced marketing effectiveness (as highly targeted programs are more likely to yield better results)
  • Stronger alignment between sales and marketing
  • Better ability and insight to proactively identify new opportunities
  • Quicker penetration for new products/services
  • More data leverage to create relevant offers
  • Less confusing buying process for customers
  • A faster path to trusted relationships between partner and customer

By communicating these benefits to your partners, you’ll find them much more willing to deliver the keys to data essential to ABM success. Be sure to check back soon for guiding principles and best practices for ABM in my next Channel Chatter post.  You can also learn more about ABM with this SiriusDecisions Research Brief: Account-Based Marketing in the Channel, which details how to align the activities of partner organizations with internal functions to coordinate and capitalize on ABM in the channel.



Laz talks more about Account-Based Marketing in this episode of Channel Visions:

Originally posted on Channel Chatter
Laz-Headshot2.jpg As a prominent thought leader, Laz brings unparalleled channel expertise to Zift as Chief Strategy Officer. Before Zift, Laz was Group Director of Channel Sales & Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions serving as a strategic advisor to leading B2B channel programs worldwide.f


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