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How Account-Based Marketing and Selling via LinkedIn Can Drive Revenue

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Many social media and social selling experts say volume is the key to success on social media platforms, including LinkedIn.

In an article in Content Marketing Institute's magazine, Jonathan Crossfield compares that scattershot, shotgun method to a realtor's flyer-marketing efforts. He talks about how once a week his mailbox contains at least one real estate flyer that mentions a recently sold house in his area and asks whether he has considered selling his home. Now, Jonathan is renting, so I'm sure his landlord would have something to say about that.

As you can see, that's the wrong message sent to the wrong audience. And the same thing happens when you do not take a rifle approach to focus on targeted audiences on LinkedIn.

A shotgun approach may be better when you have a lower-cost product or solution and you need as many leads and subscribers as possible to get a return on your social media investment.

But when your offering supposes a hefty investment on the part of the buyer, and when you have a complex sales process, then you'd better be sure you're focusing on specific audiences and that you are being relevant. A targeted, account-based marketing approach is key in this case.


Account-based marketing approaches generate higher ROI:

  • Account-based marketing approaches had the highest ROI, according to 97% of marketers in an Alterra Group study.
  • ITSMA reports that 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering the highest returns of any other marketing approach.
  • A LinkedIn study found that social selling professionals who are taking an account-based marketing and selling approach gain 45% more opportunities.

So why aren't we taking an account-based marketing and selling approach on LinkedIn?

Here's how three organizations are taking an account-based approach on driving real revenues.

1. Managed service provider attracts a real estate management firm as a sales opportunity using an account-based marketing approach

Instead of having a resume-based LinkedIn profile that communicates no business value to prospects whatsoever, or instead of having a LinkedIn profile that's filled with commodity messaging aimed at general audiences, Single Point of Contact's VP of business development, Fernando Leon, focused his profile specifically on the accounts he wanted to target.

One of those accounts was a real estate management firm in the San Francisco Bay area that had ignored all other communications. So, on Fernando's profile he explained how he helped Shorenstein Realty, the largest, oldest, most- respected real estate management firm around, which was spending upwards of $750,000 on its IT infrastructure, cut its IT opex 43%. He discussed the challenges the real estate management firm was having, the mistakes they were making, and the steps Single Point of Contact took to cut expenses. And, most important, the profile explained why his approach worked.

The managed services provider then created case studies and articles that spoke specifically to IT leaders within real estate management firms, and he created relevant discussions inside the LinkedIn groups that the targeted audience was part of. Because of the relevant discussions aimed at attracting the particular real estate management firm, and because the VP's profile was case-study based, he was able to show his relevance.

The local SF Bay real estate management firm reached out to Fernando to connect, and asked specific questions based on the content found on Fernando's LinkedIn profile that dealt with Shorenstein Realty.

2. Positioning and messaging firm attracts new clients using an account-based marketing approach

Lawson Abinanti, president of Messages That Matter, a positioning and messaging firm that serves B2B software and technology companies, loves to create challenger content because he knows that challengers outperform other seller types.

Through his content, Lawson challenges common positioning practices, thoughts, and ideas. For example, he challenges...

  • IBM's positioning of its TM1 solution, showing that the positioning is ineffective (by targeting specific resellers of TM1 on LinkedIn and sharing his challenger content, Lawson was able to attract Cubewise, a TM1 reseller, as a client and generating $30,000+ in revenue)
  • Microsoft's and many others' use of the word "empower" in their positioning, even though it has no business value to prospects
  • The use of the biggest "me too" positioning buzzword: transform
  • Technology marketers' propensity to confuse the market with their multiple claims

Lawson has also created market assessments evaluating the positioning of market leaders in the customer relationship management (CRM), corporate/business process management (CPM/BPM), business intelligence (BI) industries, plus others. In these assessments, he pinpoints the positioning and messaging weaknesses, shows how organizations are engaging in me-too positioning, and demonstrates how the market leaders are failing to make the value connection.

On LinkedIn, Lawson targeted specific companies (especially those he mentioned in the assessment), providing prospects with challenger content that was specific to their issues. From there, he invited prospects to join his LinkedIn community where they can get a sneak preview of his approach to positioning.

But, it wasn't enough to just challenge prospects and show them a new approach. Lawson had to give prospects a reason to change. Using third-party content (a Forrester research report), he showed proof that tech companies are unable to make the value connection despite major branding overhauls. Then, using his own original content, he showed how the prospect's current approach created a disconnect.

From there, he educated marketers on how their positioning is affecting the marketing efforts that they put a higher priority on (Lawson found through his market research on LinkedIn that positioning is low on the priority totem pole). He educated marketers and sales enablement leaders on how their current positioning is driving the wrong sales conversations and how it was affecting sales because they were out of sync with buyers.

Then he coached marketers on a new approach through articles that provide a sneak peek inside his approach, a guide and articles published on MarketingProfs, webinars with influencers such as BoldPM, and a free e-book. Finally, using case studies, Lawson demonstrated that his approach works.

As you can see, Lawson targeted specific companies with specific issues, and showed marketing and sales leaders why they needed to change their positioning. As a result, Messages That Matter gained clients such as Membrain, Mariner Partners, Shift Energy, Idea5, Rocket Software, and SmartOrg. Lawson has also had sales conversations with other companies, such as Microsoft, Citrix, Symantec, Host Analytics, and others.

3. SaaS Company uses account-based marketing approach to attract new clients, including GoDaddy

A UK SaaS company, focused on IT operations and ITSM, implemented a prospecting strategy that targeted key decision makers and influencers it wanted to work with—to make the connection when they might be most amenable to taking action. It used trigger events, such as holiday season outages from retailers like Amazon and eBay, outages by Delta and Southwest, Brexit's impact on IT, and the alliance between CSC and ServiceNow, with 1,200+ clients.

The UK SaaS company has learned that trigger events help alter a prospect's priorities. By using them effectively, it was able to make connections with key IT decision-makers from large enterprises and get them curious about rising technologies and new approaches (even though they were comfortable with the status quo.)

As a result of that heightened interest, the tech company was able to convert at least 50% of its connections into members of its LinkedIn community where Sales and Marketing could continue to educate IT enterprises.

It also used a sales intelligence platform that provides data and insights into the companies that it should be connecting with. The platform told them what companies will be taking on a major IT project within the next 6-12 months and, more important, the specific type of project.

That information allowed the company to reach out to specific IT leaders who would be responsible for those specific projects—to show these prospects the company's relevance. The SaaS sales and marketing team targeted these IT leaders with content that is specific to the challenges and issues that the prospect will be facing when tackling the new IT project.

From there, the UK SaaS company provided case studies, webinars, and other content related to the prospect's specific IT project—and move them forward to a sales conversation and demo.

Notice the key word here—"specific":

  • Specific companies
  • Specific IT leaders
  • Specific projects
  • Specific needs
  • Specific issues and challenges
  • Specific content

By taking an account-based marketing approach, the UK SaaS company engaged in sales conversations with companies such as Sky Telecommunications, British Telecom, Citibank, IBM, Bank of Ireland, Expedia, and others. The sales and marketing teams were able to go from connection to revenue with the IT team at GoDaddy. They were able to attract an RFP from JC Penney, and they were able to create partnerships with IBM and ServiceNow.

(Read the full case studies about the companies mentioned in this article.)

* * *

Isn't it time for you to take a different approach on LinkedIn so you can go beyond reach and brand awareness—to demonstrate your relevance and provide specific value to targeted decision makers within targeted companies to drive demand and revenue?


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Kristina Jaramillo is managing partner and chief LinkedIn strategist at GetLinkedInHelp.com, which helps tech companies, professional services firms, and other B2B organizations generate leads and opportunities using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn: Kristina Jaramillo

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