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How to Take an Account Based Marketing Approach on LinkedIn When You Have a Complex Sale

How to Take an Account Based Marketing Approach on LinkedIn When You Have a Complex Sale

March 20, 2017
6 min read

Many social media and social selling experts say “volume” is the key to success on social media platforms like LinkedIn. In an article in Content Marketing Institute’s magazine, Jonathan Crossfield compares this scattershot “volume” method to a realtor’s flyer marketing efforts. He talks about how once a week, his mailbox contains at least one real estate flyer mentioning that they recently sold a house in his area and if he has considered selling his home. Now, Jonathan is renting so I’m sure his landlord would have something to say about it. You see, it’s a wrong message to the wrong audience. And, the same thing happens when you do not take a rifle approach and focus on targeted audiences on LinkedIn.

A shotgun approach may be better when you have a lower cost product or solution when you need as many leads and subscribers as possible to get a return on your social media investment. But when your programs have a nice-sized investment and when you have a complex sales process, then you better be sure you’re focusing on specific audiences and that you are relevant. A targeted, account-based marketing approach is key in this case.

Recent studies show that account-based marketing approaches generate a higher ROI.

For example:

  • An Alterra Group study shows that 97% of marketers reported that account-based marketing approaches had the highest ROI.
  • ITSMA reports that 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering the highest returns than any other marketing approach.
  • A LinkedIn study shows that social selling professionals that are taking an account-based marketing and selling approach gains 45% more opportunities.

So, why aren’t we taking an account-based marketing and selling approach on LinkedIn? Here are some ideas to help you take an account-based approach on LinkedIn to drive higher revenues.

  1. Build an account-based marketing foundation on LinkedIn

Most sales, marketing and C-Suite business leaders have a resume-based LinkedIn profile that communicates no business value to prospects whatsoever. It’s like they’re using LinkedIn to attract employers rather than drive demand and create sales opportunities. And, if they discuss business value to prospects at all – it’s commodity messaging and generic benefits to attract general audiences.

By taking an account based marketing approach to his profile; Fernando Leon – VP of Business Development for Single Point of Contact – attracted a large real estate management firm in the San Francisco Bay area that had previously ignored all other communications. Instead of just speaking about reducing IT costs and downtime on his profile – he spoke to the challenges that the oldest, most respected real estate management firms in the US had, the mistakes they were making and how he helped them cut their IT expenses. It was specific information that showed other real estate management firms that Fernando and Single Point of Contact understood their business and their unique challenges.

Now, the profile is only the first part to building an account based marketing foundation for LinkedIn. You need articles, case studies and other content that speaks to specific audiences that you want to target.  You see in order to be effective in taking an account based marketing approach on LinkedIn, you need to have the capabilities in place.

Click here to read the Single Point of Contact case study

  1. Tailor your LinkedIn marketing efforts for relevance

A top SAP digital marketing executive recently mentioned that social selling has become another form of spam – and it’s because the messaging and content that sales and marketing are pushing out lacks situational and contextual relevance to prospects.

A positioning and messaging firm client of ours created market assessments where he evaluated the positioning of market leaders in the CRM, CPM/BPM, BI industries plus many others. In these assessments, he pinpointed the positioning and messaging weaknesses, showed how organizations are engaging in “me too” positioning and demonstrated how the market leaders are failing to make the value connection.

Now, our client targeted specific companies (especially those he mentioned in the assessment) on LinkedIn and provided prospects with challenger content that was specific to their issues.  Then, using third-party content (a Forrester research report), our client showed proof that tech companies are unable to make the value connection despite major branding overhauls. Using his own original content, he showed how the prospect’s current approach created a disconnect and how their positioning is affecting their marketing efforts that they put a higher priority on (as our client found through his market research on LinkedIn that positioning is low on the priority totem pole.)

Notice the tailoring for relevance. He’s not engaging in a social spam program – just pushing out content and messaging and hoping that something sticks.

Read the case study for Messages That Matter

  1. Be proactive and take advantage of trigger events

Trigger events are key drivers to altering a prospect’s priorities. By using them effectively you can make connections with key decision makers from large enterprises and have them wanting to learn about a new or alternative technology, solution or approaches (even though they were comfortable with the status quo).

For example, A UK SaaS company focused on IT operations and ITSM implemented a prospecting strategy where they targeted key decision-makers and influencers that they wanted to work with–and make the connection when they might be most amenable to taking action. They leveraged trigger events such as holiday season outages from retailers like Amazon and eBay, outages by Delta and Southwest, the Brexit IT fiasco and the fact that CSC was opening a ServiceNow division with 1200+ ServiceNow clients. These trigger events that had real consequences heightened interest for learning a new approach to capacity planning and the tech company was able to convert at least 50% of their connections into members of their LinkedIn community where sales and marketing can continue to educate IT enterprises.

Read the Sumerian case study

  1. Invest in the right tools to support your account-based marketing program on LinkedIn

There are sales intelligence platforms that can provide you with data and insights into the companies that you should be connecting with. For example, DiscoverOrg can tell IT sales and marketing leaders what companies will be undertaking a major IT project within the next six to twelve months and, more importantly, the specific type of project they will be performing.

This information would allow sales and marketing leaders to reach out to specific IT leaders on LinkedIn who would be responsible for these specific projects–and show these prospects their relevance. They can target IT leaders with content that is specific to the challenges and issues that the prospect will be facing when tackling this new IT project. From there they can provide case studies, webinars, and other content that is all related to the prospect’s specific IT project–and move them forward to having 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

And, of course, you want to have the right predictive analytics tools (like Mintigo) to ensure that the companies you do focus on are likely to take action. You don’t want to be spending your time, resources and money on companies on LinkedIn that are not likely to move forward.

  1. Pursue consensus

Recent LinkedIn studies show that while the number of vendors making the list are getting smaller, B2B buying committees (especially IT buying committees) are increasing in size and they’re involving other departments. An IT buying committee may now include Finance, Operations, etc. And, the key decision makers wants to know that he has the strong backing of his team.

This means that you have to dig deep and wide and truly build relationships with different members of the account you are trying to open doors with – and you need to show each member your relevance. You’re not going to get the consensus unless you elevate the conversation with different members of the buying committee (and those who may influence that committee) if you’re not communicating the value that each individual is looking for.

You can’t just speak to your relevance to the company that you’re targeting. You need to be able to offer unique and valuable perspectives and frequently educate decision makers and influencers about their issues and outcomes.

  1. Build and leverage relationships with targeted accounts throughout the complete buyer’s journey

Many marketers may start off with an account based marketing approach – but their focus is at the top of the funnel tool instead of using LinkedIn to directly engage and interacts with their prospects on a 1-on-1 more personal level to help grow relationships.

They’re not thinking about the B2B buyers who are resistant to generic sales and marketing messages that are sent through automation programs – and those who want real relationships with experts as they make their decision. These are the people that are using social media (and LinkedIn specifically) throughout the complete buying process. These buyers are looking for vendors that can turn a vision into a clear path to value. You can only do that if you take the time to build a real relationship instead of treating prospects like a lead – which is exactly what you’re doing when you let your marketing automation take over.

Account-based marketing is about building and leveraging relationships based on value throughout the complete journey. You have to go beyond starting off with an account based marketing approach with content for specific audiences and trying to capture them into your marketing automation program by using sponsored Inmails, ads and posts. It’s time to go beyond brand awareness like the CMOs in this article.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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