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ABM List Building: The Ultimate 10-Step Guide

ABM List Building: The Ultimate 10-Step Guide

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Prospecting is challenging for any B2B marketer. After all, finding the right contacts of an account or company requires a considerable amount of effort, time, and dedication. To address this, 70% of marketers have embraced ABM (account-based marketing) practices in their daily workflow. 

Now, this shift towards ABM identifies three critical factors in achieving profitable conversions:  

  • Personalization (60%) 
  • Engaging content (57%)
  • Data management (30%)

lead generation strategies

Considering the factors mentioned above, one extremely effective way to implement an ABM strategy is to create a target account list (TAL). Such an ABM list building includes all the data-qualified accounts that fit your business in terms of:

  • Company size
  • Revenue
  • Technology usage

– among other basic criteria. If you want to learn more about target account list building, we've got you covered!

What Is Targeted ABM List Building?

Targeted ABM list building refers to creating a comprehensive list of qualified accounts and their ICPs (ideal customer profiles). These profiles are collected by your marketing and sales team – along with other relevant departments. These ABM lists contain every relevant detail about your ideal customer. Plus, they serve as a guide for your team to prioritize the following:

  • Which company to target first
  • When to reach out
  • What channel to use

A well-curated TAL enhances your ABM efforts by providing valuable data-driven insights that help you understand which type of content, ad, or CTA (Call-to-Action) would be most effective for each targeted decision-maker. As such, you can tailor your follow-up process with a personalized experience for each individual.

What Are the Upsides of Targeted ABM Lists for B2B Marketers?

Targeted ABM lists can have an immediate impact on any B2B lead generation strategy, resulting in the following:

  • New meetings
  • Expansion of account leads
  • Retention of existing account leads

Now, it may be challenging to establish a stable network among all internal data holders. However, the following benefits may encourage them to join your ABM endeavors:

  • Clear objectives: A well-defined focus allows teams to use their budget, time, and resources more effectively, resulting in a higher overall ROI.
  • Streamlined workflow: Each team member will have a clear understanding of how, when, and where to take action. Limits will be established for each step to avoid any unnecessary waste of effort.
  • Aligned workforce: Collaboration on creating the TAL often leads to increased communication between sales and marketing teams, resulting in immersive inbound and outbound actions.
  • Improved customer experience: Every B2B company seeks to increase consistency across the buyer's lifecycle. Personalized follow-ups can only occur when every department is committed to achieving the same targets.

ABM List Building: A 10-Step Guide to Accelerate B2B Marketing Success

An effective target account list building involves 10 essential steps. Although the process is straightforward, each stage requires significant data-based decision-making. Plus, once the list is integrated into your marketing/sales process, making significant changes isn’t possible until the cycle’s end. Hence, it's important to give adequate attention to every step.

1. Finalize Your ABM Targeting Strategy

Establishing your ABM targeting strategy should be your first priority. Here are three strategies you can leverage to target high-value accounts: 

  • One-to-one strategy – It focuses on individual key accounts
  • One-to-few strategy – It targets small groups instead of individuals
  • One-to-many strategy – It targets the TAM (Total Addressable Market)

Finalize Your ABM Targeting StrategySource

The most commonly used strategy is the one-to-few (used by 35% of marketers). This is because it enables you to implement ABM practices with a limited yet highly targeted range of contacts. Plus, it’s based on predictive analysis and industry knowledge. 

However, a combined approach of all three strategies (also used by 35% of marketers) is equally popular. Why? Because it allows for a broader range of potential clients to be targeted. 

Regardless of the strategy chosen, it is essential not to expand the list without a good reason. After all, the goal of ABM is to focus on your highest-converting accounts.

2. Identify Your Targeted Accounts

As previously mentioned, crafting a targeted ABM list requires quality accounts as the essential ingredients. By gathering cross-departmental information, your marketing team can qualify ABM contacts based on specific criteria, such as the following:

  • Budget: It is crucial to confirm whether your contact can afford your product before scheduling a call. Depending on the industry, accessing this information may be more or less difficult.
  • Company size: Generally, the larger a company is, the more needs it has to meet. Evaluate the pros and cons of working with different sizes and determine the number of employees that suit your solution.
  • Job roles: Understanding an organization's decision-making hierarchy can help you chart a course to reach the right person. Before launching a campaign, assess how accessible decision-makers are.
  • Background: Conducting historical research can provide valuable insights into a company's current state and past decisions. This knowledge can guide your approach to the account.
  • Geography: Geographic location is an integral factor in determining market positioning and product sales. Target accounts in different locations are bound to display different characteristics and have various wants and needs. Hence, ensure your product is required or can serve best in that particular location.
  • Technology usage: This criterion offers a glimpse into the digital maturity of an account and how your product would be used if acquired. Red flags may arise if the account is not advanced enough for your offer.
  • Industry: Certain types of businesses may benefit more from your product than others. Focus on solving existing needs rather than creating new ones.
  • Customers: If your product can help your client get more clients or increase sales, they’ll be sold already. Examine any case studies your customers have shared to identify the weak spots your solution can strengthen.
  • Competitors: Understanding your contact's direct and indirect rivals can be key to decision-making. Showcase your solution as an ace up their sleeve and teach them how to leverage it.

Determining which criteria are most valuable to your business requires collaboration with your team. Additionally, it’s essential to find out if your account is already working with one of your competitors. In such cases, you must demonstrate the added benefits they would receive if they switch to your business. 

3. Build Your TAL Accordingly

To develop your targeted ABM list, start compiling a list of positive and negative attributes of your ideal accounts. List building for ABM is more challenging than creating a list of fantastic clients. 

Why? You need to create something from nothing. Here are a few ways to start commencing your list building for ABM:

  • Ask your SDRs and Account Executives for potential customers they would like to close. This approach can help you get alignment and buy-in from everyone – such as your sales and marketing teams.
  • Use Google to find the top companies in your industry and to search for characteristics related to your targeted accounts.
  • Reach out to local business organizations like the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or others to get basic information.
  • Use LinkedIn's basic filtering options to identify potential target companies. However, you can also use more advanced filtering options available in Sales Navigator.
  • Consider using ABM technology partners like Terminus, SalesIntel, or ZoomInfo to generate a list matching your ideal customer profile.

As you start to create your list, you may find yourself with either a list that is too small or too large. 

  • If your list is too small, adjust your criteria or prioritize better. 
  • If your list is too large, make a few criteria non-negotiable. 

Keep in mind that anyone can request a form from your website. However, you MUST focus on the few "best-fit" opportunities instead of several "good-fit" opportunities. As such, your list should comprise high-quality accounts. Hence, consider the following elements when creating your list:

  • Industry
  • Number of SDRs
  • Company size
  • Geographical location
  • Annual growth rate
  • Technographic profile (what technologies the company is using)
  • Sales territory coverage
  • Sales cycle length
  • Competitive landscape
  • Previous engagement with your company

4. Verify Your Data 

To ensure that your TAL accounts are accurate, verifying your data sources is critical. It involves conducting thorough research. Only then you can confirm that the information gathered is reliable. 

In fact, 54% of marketers use a combination of first and third-party data to create their TAL. Hence, it’s critical to verify your data’s quality. So, to validate your individual-based outreach strategies and decisions, consider the following information types:

  • Demographic data: It includes details such as full names, titles, locations, phone numbers, and email addresses. It's important to determine whether this is first-party data or was collected through other sources.
  • Firmographic data: It involves information about the company, such as industry type, company size, reach, ownership style, annual revenue, marketing trends, and growth information.
  • Technographic data: Technographic data refers to the technologies and software used by the company, such as web-based integrations, installed apps, mobile apps, and data and data processing providers.
  • Psychographic data: It encompasses information about the targeted decision-maker’s behavioral paths, career trajectories, professional specialties, and general interests.

NOTE: The data you acquire and validate may also be available to your competitors if they grow their TALs. To ensure the quality of your leads, it's best to segment them in a way that only your internal team can understand, conduct, and trigger.

5. Identify Your Contacts 

Next, select the right individuals to reach out to. Take the time to research their job titles, skills, and hierarchy within the decision-making process. It will help you quickly identify and contact the relevant stakeholders, such as.

  • Champions: Accounts in your ABM list who are already advocates or supporters of your product/service and can help you in the sales process.
  • Decision makers: Contacts within the list who have the authority to make purchasing decisions.
  • Influencers: Accounts in the list who may not have the authority to make a final decision but can still influence the decision-making process.

To get even more insights into your contacts, consider looking into their:

  • Account affiliation
  • Engagement history
  • Experience with your industry

You can use this information to create an "influence matrix." It will give you a deeper understanding of the account's purchasing and decision-making processes.

Once you've identified your target accounts and contacts, it's time to deliver relevant business insights. It means understanding each account's pain points, goals, and challenges. By providing interesting insights, you can build credibility and trust and, eventually, win more business.

6. Engage With Your Accounts and Nurture Them

Here are a few steps:

  • Personalized content: Use content creation tools, like an interactive alternative PDF maker to create personalized and relevant content for each account, addressing their specific pain points and needs.
  • Multi-channel engagement: Use a combination of channels such as email, social media, direct mail, and InMail to engage with your target accounts.
  • Thought leadership: Share industry insights and thought leadership content to establish your brand as a trusted authority in your niche.
  • Events and webinars: Host virtual events and webinars that offer valuable insights to your target accounts.
  • Account-based advertising: Use targeted advertising to reach your target accounts through channels such as LinkedIn, Google, and other industry-specific websites.

7. Split Your TALs Into Segments

You need to update your accounts based on specific criteria. Why? It’ll enable your sales development team to engage with them efficiently.

Account segmentation aims to create highly personalized follow-ups. As such, you can quickly engage potential customers. To achieve this, we recommend you categorize your leads into the following tiers:

  • Top Tier

This comprises the top 10% to 20% of your list. They are the most profitable accounts. Why? They have demonstrated significant potential for a fast conversion. 

As such, you should focus your marketing and sales efforts on this segment. How? By using frequent, direct, and targeted actions to close the business.

  • Mid Tier

This tier will represent about 20% to 30% of your list. It consists of accounts that have shown a reasonable level of interest in your product. Sales could take place within the next twelve months. Thus, ensure to contact decision-makers monthly.

The marketing goal in this tier is to educate and shape how contacts understand:

  • Your product
  • The problem it solves
  • Your value proposition

  • Bottom Tier

This tier will likely make up 50% to 70% of your list. Such accounts may benefit from your product but they are currently not interested in making a purchase. Why?

  • This group may have little knowledge of your product. 
  • They may be uncertain of how they would benefit from it. 

The conversion moment with them is too unclear to foster an active move. So you can use more passive actions in this case. Some of such strategies include – encouraging them to sign up for your weekly newsletter. It could lead to a sale eventually.

You can additionally consider these methods to segment your TALs as well:

Let's talk about how to segment your approach for ABM success:

  • Focus on target accounts: Rather than going after your entire TAM (Total Accessible Market), identify the high-priority accounts that best fit your business.
  • Ease of access: Accounts that have provided you with contact information will be easier to close, so prioritize those.
  • Account engagement: Companies that regularly engage with your marketing content are more likely to be a good fit for a long-term relationship.
  • Reputation: Focus on the most respected and prominent accounts, and demonstrate how your solution can help solve their pain points.
  • Buyer intent: Use buyer intent data to engage with buyers when they're ready to make a purchase.

You must ensure you have the necessary tools to maximize lead conversion from your B2B ABM strategy.

8. Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

To ensure the successful implementation of ABM, sales and marketing team alignment is a must. Establish harmony between both teams on the:

  • Objectives
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Account qualification criteria
  • Targeted accounts
  • Obstacles and their solutions
  • Market positioning and USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Market niche

It requires a seamless transition for the customer from the initial acquisition as a lead to the final sale. As such, it ends up creating a custom buying experience. 

Effective communication and finding common ground are key to improving synergy between these two departments. Additionally, it ensures the marketing team acquires leads that the sales team can successfully sell to. 

  • When starting with ABM, a small team comprising one marketer and one SDR can identify and approach target accounts. 
  • However, as efforts scale up, it is essential to have the marketer include and support additional SDRs. 

NOTE: Generally, one marketer can remain aligned with up to 10 SDRs, and each SDR can manage up to 10 accounts.

9. Always Have a Tech Stack Handy

A tech stack can be very helpful for ABM list building. Here's an explanation of the suggested tools:

  • Account enrichment platform: It allows you to enrich your target account data with additional information such as company size, revenue, industry, and more. For instance, Clearbit, ZoomInfo, and DiscoverOrg.
  • Intent data: It helps you understand the intent behind a prospect's online behavior, allowing you to target them with personalized messaging. Some examples include Happierleads, 6sense, and Demandbase.
  • CRM: A CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot enables you to manage your customer and prospect data, track interactions, and automate sales and marketing tasks.
  • Platforms for personalized content hubs: They allow you to create and share custom content hubs that act as digital sales rooms to engage with your target accounts. For instance, Paperflite, Uberflip, and PathFactory.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: It is the ultimate sales prospecting tool that allows you to search for and connect with potential customers on LinkedIn based on criteria such as job title, industry, and company size.

10. Manage Your ABM Lists

Finally, managing a company's data is crucial in B2B. After all, large volumes of unprocessed data can accumulate in the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. This phenomenon is known as data exhaust. 

Again, let’s assume your TAL is extensive. Then, your marketing team may face difficulties in executing personalized actions – due to data broadness.

So, to effectively manage your TAL, you can take the help of a CDP (customer data platform). It enables B2B marketing teams to collect relevant sales and behavioral data. Plus, it helps continuously improve individual profiles as they move through the funnel. 

A CDP also allows you to find, segment, and execute ICPs. In short, by integrating your ABM list with a CDP, you provide your sales/marketing teams with a comprehensive platform. This platform gives access to all the profiles in every tier. It also analyzes data to engage each contact at the ideal pace.

Design Highly Targeted ABM Lists for Maximum Lead Conversions

Generating new business remains a top priority for B2B companies. And with various data management tools and marketing strategies available, defining your business goals is important. Creating a list of high-quality leads is a good starting point. However, it doesn't guarantee success in reaching them all on the first try.

The true test of the quality of your data lies in putting it into action – such as preparing a cold call script or an email response. Encourage your team to proactively engage with your leads list to achieve your end goals.

To ensure the effectiveness of your lead list, you can collaborate with your client acquisition teams or enlist the services of a B2B partner like Revnew. Revnew has demonstrated impressive results by partnering with ViTel Net – to successfully set up 20 appointments with relevant telehealth stakeholders.

Some Commonly Asked Questions About Building ABM Lists

1. How big should an ABM list be?

Determining the appropriate size for an ABM list can vary depending on your company's goals, resources, and target audience. In general, ABM lists typically range from 50 to 500 accounts. 

However, some companies have had success with lists as small as 10-20 accounts for a highly targeted approach. Ultimately, the size of your ABM list will depend on the unique factors of your firm and its goals for the ABM strategy.

2. How many accounts should you target with ABM?

There are three types of ABM  approaches to target accounts:

  • One-to-one ABM focuses on a small number of individual accounts, usually between 1-5, that is expected to provide the most significant value for the business. This approach involves dedicating the entire ABM budget to these accounts to provide a highly personalized experience.
  • One-to-few ABM targets a slightly larger group of accounts, typically between 10-30, within a specific sector. It still allows for a personalized experience but provides a broader reach.
  • One-to-many ABM targets over 30 lower-value accounts with customer-centric messaging. This approach is less personalized but provides a wider reach to maximize the impact on a larger audience.

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