Optimize Your Account Scoring to Take Your ABM to the Next Level

One topic I often get questions about is account scoring. As clients begin rolling out their ABM campaigns, they want to track engagement with multiple buyers on a target account.

To do this right, you need a solid foundation for account engagement scoring. Account scoring not only helps sales and marketing teams focus, but it helps everyone determine how successful the ABM campaign is and the quality of accounts being targeted.

Keep these important things in mind as your team looks at its account scoring and works to improve your ABM program success.

Why account scoring can be hard

There are three main reasons why account engagement scoring can be hard to implement and optimize. 

Individual score leads and ABM “buying centers” can be at odds with each other.

For the past 15 years or so, marketers and systems have been tracking engagement from individuals on an individual level to determine whether they’re qualified for a sales discussion. But ABM takes it a step further and tracks engagements from multiple individuals to determine whether the account they make up is qualified.

Teams can get tripped up here. It can be hard to see where each individual is in their buying journey. Is one individual looking at thought leadership content while another is looking at an ROI calculator? This means that your ABM program has to be ready to help both individuals, as well as others in the buying center, get to a point where they’re all ready to buy. 

This doesn’t mean that lead scoring goes away: you still need it because tracking individual engagement is still important to the buying process. But if you’re looking to optimize your ABM program, you have to optimize the information you’re capturing to qualify individuals in a target buying center and have those individual lead scores roll up into account scores for the accounts you’re targeting. 

Demand gen and ABM programs can have completely different processes.

Being able to operationally manage both lead-based demand gen programs and account-based programs can look wildly different even within the same organization.

For example, you may have a sales rep who is responding to inbound leads and chasing target accounts. So, how do you fix it?

You need a scalable process. The process should be able to accommodate what you do in both areas. Start by asking the sales team what they want to achieve, and then build or change the processes to align with that. Oftentimes, clients will agree on the right number of buying center members engaged in a target account to make it qualified, and perhaps give multipliers to higher value contacts. This satisfies both requirements and keeps it simple to execute.

Marketers don’t have the time needed for ABM.

We see it a lot: executives prioritize ABM and task the marketing team to implement it. Marketers like the idea, but they have enough on their plate and really don’t have the appetite for long implementations or for figuring out an ABM strategy.

Time is the most valuable resource marketers have, so if they want a successful ABM program, they’ll need time to align with sales. It gets everyone on the same page with things that are required for a successful ABM program, like customer profiles, target personas and accounts, databases, content creation, and nurture strategy.

This alignment is especially important as you’re getting ready to launch ABM. It can take a while to get there with all of the upfront work, and it’s not for the faint of heart – but understanding your part in the program will help it run more smoothly after it launches.

Must-have account scoring tools

The most successful ABM programs have five key tools that make account engagement scoring not just possible, but easier.

CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools help marketers manage their interactions and overall relationships with current customers and prospects. Without a CRM tool, you’re not ready for ABM.

Marketing automation platform. This platform is absolutely crucial for marketers and salespeople to automate their engagement with customers and prospects with minimal human intervention. Without this platform, you’re not ready for ABM. 

Lead to account solution. Let’s say sales is working on plays that include people from a qualified target account. One person from the buying center comes into the CRM as a lead, the sales development rep picks up the phone to talk to that person – but the rep has no idea that person is part of a target account. 

Sales won’t be happy if that rep calls and both sales and marketing jeopardize their work for the whole account if the rep has a bad conversation. 

With this solution, technology can significantly reduce the likelihood of this from happening. It steps in when people come into the CRM from qualified accounts, so rather than having a rep have no idea that the person is part of a qualified account, the person is rolled up into the appropriate systems and routed to the right processes so they can be treated like family rather than a total stranger. 

Data enrichment tool. Gone are the days of multiple fields to get a full data profile.

Invest in data enrichment capabilities to fill in the blanks on the back end and have your system populate other information to help you make sure that the prospect fits with the target personas you’re trying to reach before you go further. Not only does the tool give you the information you need to move forward, but you keep your asks of prospects low and decrease the probability of abandonment. 

Account based marketing platform:  We love Demandbase because they’re a client and they have a really solid product suite that connects data, intent, engagement insights, and advertising all in one system. There are also other great tools like Terminus and SixSense.  

Account scoring and managing qualified accounts

Once you have the basics of account engagement scoring in place for your ABM campaigns, you can get creative about how you use it to manage those qualified accounts. 

Determining qualifying criteria for target accounts.

Account scoring can help your team determine when a target account moves to become a qualified account. 

Let’s say you have lead scoring in place with a defined MQL threshold. You’ve identified a target buying center with five key titles, but you know that other titles will be poking around your content as well. 

With account scoring, marketing and sales determine when this account will be qualified. In this example, the team would need to agree that they need a certain number of leads in the buying center (maybe three) to be engaged as MQLs for the account to become qualified. 

The key here is to make sure marketing and sales have everything in place to determine that criteria. Each team has to agree on the personas that need to engage and the levels of engagement required from each persona before the account scoring would determine that the account would be considered qualified. 

Without this agreement, and without sales trusting the agreement, marketers will have a hard time getting onboard for these ABM campaigns.

Finding things you need that may be missing.

After your team has identified and implemented the processes needed to support account scoring and your ABM program, you may need to update your processes. 

For example, once an account is qualified, what happens next? Does sales get a notification? Do they get involved, if they aren’t already? If you’re not sure, this is where a service-level agreement (SLA) could come in handy. 

With account scores in place to make sure accounts are qualified, you can spend more time thinking through and implementing next steps, like who schedules meetings and how to make it easy for prospects to schedule meetings with you. 

Account scoring and ABM aren’t for everyone

As exciting and promising as ABM can be for marketers, it’s also important to know when ABM makes sense now and when it makes sense to pursue down the line. We know that ABM is most effective for targeting companies with long sales cycles, multiple buyers, and expensive products. If you’re looking to target companies that don’t meet these three criteria, you may want to focus on targeted demand gen tactics. 

In addition to this, you need to make sure you’re ready to go on the sales and marketing sides. This requires identifying ideal customer profiles, target buying centers and accounts, a healthy database, a strong content development and enrichment program, and more. 

If your team isn’t at this point yet but wants to be, one of the best and most effective places to start is by reviewing your lead scoring and account scoring capabilities. As soon as those are strong, your team is in a much better position to implement and run successful ABM campaigns.

Want to talk more about improving your account scoring and ABM program? Chat with our Account Scoring Expert to learn more.