Any organization leveraging an account-based marketing (ABM) and sales strategy has more than likely developed their ideal customer profile (ICP), as well as a list of the top accounts they want to strategically focus their sales and marketing efforts on. Yet, what happens when the feeling isn’t reciprocated by the prospect? How should we know, as marketers and salespeople, that an account just isn’t that into us?
There’s a great book/blockbuster He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, which is targeted to help girls stop wasting time on guys that just don’t like them…enough. Taking note from this dating playbook, here are three signs to follow to ensure your account-based strategy is focused on accounts that are into you…enough.
1. If They Do Not Know You Exist, They Can’t Know Your Value
“If you can find him, then he can find you. If he wants to find you, he will.”
― Greg Behrendt, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
This one is probably obvious, but I know a lot of companies that create their target account tiers weighted heavily on firmographic criteria. Although I know Brad Pitt should be my husband, if he doesn’t know I exist, it probably isn’t going to work out…at least not right away. The same holds true for account-based revenue (ABR) strategies. If on paper Google should be your client, yet no one at Google understands your value (or even knows you exist), you’re probably not in the right starting point for the relationship.
One thing I want to make clear is that accounts with high firmographic-fit criteria should still remain on your radar, but instead of setting goals for closed-won business, initial, account-level goals should be set around awareness and engagement within those accounts. Sometimes companies place too much weight on their top account list and lose sight of the reality that just because these accounts seem like a good fit, it takes interest to make a mutual relationship.
Top-tier accounts (where both marketing and sales are spending the majority of their time and resources to move a deal across the goal line) should be focused on two concepts:
- Fit – Are they a good match for what our product/service offers? And…
- Interest – Do they actually care?
Again, I want to reiterate, this doesn’t mean you should ignore all of the accounts that are a high fit, but instead focus on creating reciprocated interest before putting them on your highest tier list.
In short, I’m saying there’ is still a chance for me and Brad Pitt, but he has yet to return any of my calls. But more realistically, I prefer my husband, who actually knows I exist and of course has consistently shown interest in me, even though he wasn’t on my radar until we first met. (For the record, he’s not super concerned about the Brad Pitt possibility, either.)
2. If They Don’t Care, They Won’t Close
“An excuse is a polite rejection.”— Greg Behrendt, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
It’s also not enough that a top-tier account knows that you exist, but that they also demonstrate enough interest and intent to purchase to become a priority for your organization.
Everstring’s Matt Amundson recently posted a blog on the concept of F.I.R.E. (fit, intent, relationships, engagement) for account qualification. Leveraging data-driven account qualification, and urgency in this matter, enables marketing and sales teams to prioritize accounts that have a strong likelihood of making a purchase and as a result, avoiding “polite rejections.”
There are typically two types of accounts that fall into the category of displaying some interest, but are just giving you false hope:
- Accounts that are interested, but just not ready (missing a piece of BANT).
- Accounts that will never be ready/interested (at least not in the foreseeable future) and are not direct enough to tell you (or they tell you but you choose not to listen).
For either type of account, this doesn’t mean they should be ignored, yet I do believe the way they’re worked fundamentally should change.
When an account is interested, but not ready, it’s important that expectations for follow-up and re-engagement are appropriately set. These accounts shouldn’t continue to be worked at the current level, but also shouldn’t be tossed to the side. Some of my best experiences as a consumer have been when a company has asked me when I wanted to be checked back in with, rather than them unilaterally making the decision to bother me with a weekly call and email.
Additionally, some products are just not going to have fit or interest for an organization, but this doesn’t mean they’ll never be. However, it also doesn’t mean they should receive the same level of attention as accounts that are, in fact, currently interested.
One of the biggest challenges I see with marketing and sales teams in these scenarios are dealing with the “rejection” of a top-tier account. In practice, ABM will never be 100% perfect, and top accounts will not always immediately close, but the concept of prioritizing the time and resources that go into each account should help teams move more deals across the goal line. Just because an account isn’t ready now doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future, especially if marketing and sales teams do their job correctly to communicate value and remain engaged throughout the journey.
If they’re not returning emails and phone calls, they’re probably not interested. I once had a company that after I told them I wasn’t interested, they still asked me for my address to send me a gift. A few days later, they sent what I estimate was a $25 direct mail package, and guess what? After receiving it, I still wasn’t interested!
Time and resources are valuable, and it’s important for both businesses and prospects to be respectful and honest about them if there is a future. If they’re not, give them the opportunity to tell you that and move forward. This doesn’t mean they won’t become interested in the future, but it also doesn’t mean they should continue to be a top-tier account, and you probably shouldn’t send them additional swag in the false hopes that they’ll instantly change their mind. It’s just like dating. You have to be willing to risk and then accept rejection, and not look desperate doing so.
Trust me when I say this, if a prospect is truly interested, they’ll reach back out in the future if something in their situation changes and they want to re-engage. The best relationships are never forced.
3. If They’re Interested, You Should Be Too
“Don’t spend your time on and give your heart to any guy who makes you wonder about anything related to his feelings for you.” — Greg Behrendt, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
This one is probably one of my biggest pet peeves with how some organizations are handing their account-based strategies.
A few months ago, I did my research on a product that I felt would be a great fit for my company. I then completed a demo request form in hopes that I could learn more. I never heard anything. Frustrated, I submitted again, thinking I entered the wrong information. Nothing. Curious on what was happening, I did it a few more times to see if I would ever get a response. Four weeks later, the company reached back out (after I posted on social media asking them if they wanted my money) and explained that based on my information, I didn’t seem like a good fit for their product or service.
Seriously? It was as though they were telling me that the money I was willing to spend on their product wasn’t pretty enough for them. It was a truly bizarre experience with a company that I assumed was interested in making revenue, but based on their picky behavior, I can’t imagine that they’re hitting many of their revenue goals.
The moral of this story is that just because you don’t have a company prioritized as being a top-tier account, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be, or shouldn’t be. Organizations have to have the flexibility to entertain prospective customers outside of their targeted lists, and typically inbound leads with consumer-driven engagement are strong indicators of buying interest.
In the words of Greg Behrendt, “Always classy, never crazy.” The same is true when it comes to executing account-based marketing strategies. Start with the prioritization of top accounts based on both fit and interest, remember that “not now” doesn’t mean “not ever,” put your time and resources on the accounts that truly are ready right now, and don’t ignore someone that might be interested just because they aren’t high on your list.
And remember, if they’re not engaging with you, they probably are just not that into you.
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