Originally published in AITHORITY.com
Everywhere you look, there’s another news story or report about forecasts of stagflation and recession. It may not be here yet, but economists expect it to happen in the coming months. Most companies are adapting their go-to-market strategies — often with the help of technology — in search of stability (and, if they get it right, growth).
There’s no shortage of ways to do this. For example, according to data from our annual B2B effectiveness report, 46% of respondents said they have emphasized growing existing customers and/or moving them into more profitable products/services.
The study also notes that less than 40% of marketers have reduced budgets to prepare for recessionary impact, meaning that the majority will have the funds needed to continue their efforts.
With all of this in mind, one of the top ways to respond to an economic downturn is to double down on account-based marketing (ABM) with the support of technology. Here are several best practices for doing so.
1. Adapt to the environment
With so much economic uncertainty, buyers are under more pressure than ever. Analyze every buying decision with a fine-tooth comb, and there’s an unwavering desire for immediate results.
In the current environment, “inaction” is your top competitor. Many prospects would instead maintain the status quo rather than attempt to transform the business simply due to the additional scrutiny they face on spending vs. return.
When working on a set of target accounts, your objective is to find the “minimum viable problem” for them. Pinpoint an issue they want to solve — one that’s not too complicated but will have a big enough impact — to improve the likelihood of gaining traction and approval. It isn’t an ideal time for complex or high-value deals.
If you have an intent platform, relook at your trending topics, and you’ll see the shift in terms of what’s trending upwards or downwards. Something that you may not have considered a worthy conversation 12 months ago might be today.
2. Recycle previous deals
This one involves a technology everyone has at their disposal, a hidden hero in the ABM world- your CRM.
Non-glamorous as it may be, it holds the keys to a key source of information– past deals.
Start by reviewing your CRM to uncover the secret sauce behind past deals where you successfully converted a prospect into a customer. Even better if it was in record time or involved a touchpoint or two that was different from the usual sales process. You likely have content and blueprints associated with these deals that you can use to target lookalike accounts and prospects.
From there, anonymize the content and use it to get your foot in the door, offering prospects a scrutiny-proof business case to take to their boss and peers.
Why start fresh when you don’t have to? Recycling previous deals are one of the most overlooked efficiencies you can make as part of an account-based marketing strategy, saving you time and money while improving the likelihood of success.
3. Focus on retention
Companies that have always been good at retention are best positioned before, during, and after a recessionary environment. When it comes to customer lifecycle marketing, here are some of the best ways to improve your retention efforts:
- Build better relationships with customer champions to help open new conversations from the inside-out
- Listen to your customers more intently than ever and work to launch new products/services that can help them respond to evolving economic conditions.
- Update messaging to focus on recessionary themes like productivity and getting more from what you already have.
In the past, “it cost 5x more to get a new customer than to keep an existing customer,” and that still holds true. In a recessionary environment, where resources are tight, focusing more on retention will pay dividends.
4. Experiment with new strategies using technology
An economic downturn is also a good time to test new strategies and messaging using technology to find out what is resonating in a world where priorities have shifted to cost-saving activities, and sales cycles are lengthening. Testing through technology to find the right fit can not only help to optimize your efforts and investment, but it can also give prospects more timely and relevant experiences at every touchpoint.
For example, you’re using a specific piece of content or asset (see #2 above) to recycle previous deals. Rather than guess and hope for positive results, A/B testing provides hard data on what is and isn’t working. The challenge is running these tests at scale. One solution is AI technology that can manage tests and share data while you focus on other tasks.
As you gain knowledge from A/B tests, use the data to customize campaigns. Not only can this boost performance now and keep prospects moving through the sales pipeline, but it’ll also pay off when the economy settles down.
As the economy goes through a difficult period, it’s time for your business to adjust. These four best practices will allow you to leverage account-based marketing and technology as part of a unified strategy that will help your Sales and Marketing efforts remain on solid ground and your organization positioned to achieve its growth goals.