Originally published at HR Tech Outlook

When you sell to HR, you’re never just selling to HR.

The same is true for other industries as well. Purchasing decisions at B2B companies are rarely made in a vacuum. But for HR tech companies in particular, targeting a decision-making panel, rather than just a single decision maker, can be the difference between a productive selling conversation and a dead end.


What is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing is a holistic business-to-business strategy that enables companies to more effectively sell into a targeted list of accounts. The idea is to no longer have a massive, wide open marketing funnel, but rather to channel efforts efficiently and strategically.

Account Based Marketing is similar to what has traditionally been called enterprise sales.  The primary difference is that an account based strategy can be used to target a company of any size. Instead of messaging only to decision makers within a company, sales and marketing work together to simultaneously target multiple decision makers, with different roles and responsibilities. The concept involves leveraging dynamics of group psychology to close an account.

When used correctly, ABM fosters collaboration between marketing and sales teams and helps close higher-value customers more quickly.


Why HR Technology Marketers Need ABM

Account based tactics can be effective for lead generation in any industry, but for HR, it’s even more important. The marketplace is valued at more than $1 trillion annually, according to HRmarketer.com. But with so many players competing for that business, the hurdles to increase market share is fierce.

Account Based Marketing makes sense because HR decisions are never made in a vacuum. In most cases, multiple decision makers –sometimes multiple departments — are involved in the purchase process. It is about knowing  how the a wide array of individuals within each organization will use, evaluate, or be impacted by your product.


How to Get Started

As with any strategy, a structured approach will garner the best results. It starts with quality data and analytics. Understanding prospect needs, gathering relevant contact information and knowing when and how to reach out to key players will go a long way to building fruitful relationships.


Understanding an Account’s Needs

When HR tech firms target new customers, it is critical to understand the needs of the primary decision maker. In the field of HR, these needs can be wide ranging beyond the traditional HR basics of covering staffing, payroll and recruiting. They may also comprise employee benefits, health and wellness, and often training and workplace safety issues. Their days might include providing team management expertise, conducting background checks and managing HR information systems. In many cases, they may offer guidance in employment law and compliance, or depending on the industry they are in, labor or union relations. At some organizations, even crisis communications and community relations might be grouped under HR.


Putting ABM to Work

For each target account, it is essential to pinpoint all the stakeholders in the decision making process. The larger your Total Contract Value (TCV) — the longer your sales cycle, the more decision makers involved with a purchase, the more your product changes the organization you’re selling into — the more important it is for B2B marketers to have a deep understanding of not only their decision maker’s needs, but also the other individuals who will weigh in on or approve a purchase.

With your decision making panel identified, it is then time to find accurate contact information and job titles. Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or marketing automation database needs to be continually, enriched for accurate data to make sure you are communicating with the right person. The average B2B sales and marketing database decays at over 3% per month —across all industries. Without action, over a third of your business contacts can go out of date each year, including key company information, personal details, and most importantly, accurate contact information.

Once that is completed, it is time to target the various decision makers within a firm, using group psychology dynamics to help close the deal. It is best to start with light touches — such as viewing LinkedIn profiles — and then follow up with four to eight short emails, appropriately spaced within the sales cycle.

Certain aspects of an ABM program can be automated, such as the email sequence. Once templates are developed for each buyer persona, an automated system can personalize and send out the emails at the predetermined intervals.


The Bottom Line

When ABM is done well, it helps contribute to larger deal sizes, faster deal cycles and better “win” rates.

As the industry grows increasingly competitive, HR tech firms have the advantage with ABM in their marketing and sales arsenal. The sooner they embrace the strategy, the quicker they’ll grow their bottom line and be A-Okay.


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