James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

Account-Based Marketing: 3 Elements You Need to Understand

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

Marketing can sometimes feel like a bad game of hide and seek. Your market is out there, you’re seeking them, and every time you pull up that tablecloth you find no one under the table. You thought those ads would work, that your tradeshow investment would pay off, but it doesn’t . . . and then what? You take notes on what went wrong and move forward from there. What if there was a better way to do things? What if instead of looking at what went wrong, we harvested hard data on what went right?

We got the chance to talk with Mike Donnelly, the CEO and Founder of Seventh Sense, a marketing and sales software that optimizes email send times to get as many eyeballs on your message as possible.

Mike walked us through a strategy called account-based marketing, which takes the data acquired from successful market outreach and creates a roadmap to pursue your ideal customers.

You Know The Feeling…

You buy a product and think to yourself, I am the exact customer they are looking for. You use the product daily and love everything about it. It blends so well into your business that you couldn’t remember life before it.

Imagine that feeling. Now . . . imagine that there are people in the world that feel that exact same way about your product. If you’ve made sales, you already have some! Through account-based marketing, you can strategically target your ideal market through current customer analysis.

Reverse-Engineer Your Marketing

Account-based marketing is a simple, yet effective idea. It poses the question:

What does your ideal customer look like?

You answer that question by looking at your current customers, seeing what worked in those sales processes, and then reverse-engineering that process to apply it to future prospects. Look at whom you’ve landed, reverse-engineer what worked, and apply that to more people.


This method flips the traditional shotgun marketing approach on its head. Instead of marketing to the masses and seeing what sticks, it sees what’s sticking and then markets to a defined audience.

First step: Dissect The First Touch Point

The first step in account-based marketing is dissecting the first point at which you reached your existing customers.

When did you reach them (time of day, day of the week)?

Did you reach them on social media, at a trade show, through a sales channel, by email?

How did you grab their attention and hold it long enough for them to respond back?

Seventh Sense takes the burden off of you when analyzing your outreach. It analyzes different data resources (marketing automation systems, email, and phone) and builds profiles on all of your contacts. Through a partnership with Hubspot, they have created a service of send-time optimization for Hubspot customers.

Seventh Sense reports that business professionals on average receive 122 emails a day, while executives receive 278. That is a truckload of emails to break through. Send-time optimization pinpoints the absolute best times to email your prospects to prevent your message from falling into the inbox abyss.

Using these identified elements, analyze that data to create different persona profiles for each type of ideal account. Seeing how the sales process progressed for each will give you roadmaps to follow to reach those types of customers in the future.

From here, learn how your existing messaging and marketing tactics can be adjusted to better align with each persona. This knowledge allows you to tailor your marketing and top-of-sales-funnel activities to resonate with your ideal audience at first contact.

Tailor Your Message

The sales process is different for every prospect. Sometimes the CEO is the only person you’ll talk to. Sometimes you’ll need to go up the chain of command and meet with every level of employee. But no matter what, you need to be prepared.

When talking to engineers, VPs, CEOs, or managers, you need to know how to best connect with each. To do so, you’ll need a tailored message for each person you meet along the sales process.

It’s just like when you’re applying for jobs. You wouldn’t send the same resumé to a creative agency as you would an insurance company. Each field has different required skills that you would want to highlight specifically for the job you’re going after.

Similarly, each person requires a different sales pitch based on their values and pain points. Tailor your sales pitch based on each person’s values and pain points.


If you’re pitching a product to engineers, your messaging would be more tactical—how is your product going to simplify their day and help them reach their goals?

When talking to a CEO, you’ll want to frame your messaging to be more strategic from a 50,000-foot level. How will this positively affect their company down the road? How will it impact their bottom line?

Learn who you will be talking with and craft tailored messaging for each person. Your messaging should resonate with each individual you meet. Don’t attempt to regurgitate a blanket sales pitch—it won’t go over well.

To learn how to deal with prospects that aren’t picking up everything you’re putting down, read 4 B2B Sales Secrets to Winning Over Skeptical Prospects.

The business communication classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, spells out how to better communicate with almost anyone. It is a must-read for anyone looking to be a better communicator in and out of business.

Know Where Your Audience Lives

Don’t listen to this dated advice: “Everyone needs to be marketing on Facebook.”

One platform does not fit all, and it’s vital that you know which ones best fit your audience. Knowing where your audience lives means knowing where your audience is consuming content.

Where is your audience spending their time? Where is the best place to market to them effectively? Is it Twitter? niche forums? industry blogs? Pinterest? LinkedIn?

For example, Facebook is a social network whose purpose is to help us share the personal elements of our lives. In this case, Facebook wouldn’t be a good fit for B2B marketing. Business professionals aren’t looking for B2B company advertisements on Facebook: they’re looking for videos of their nephew taking his first steps.


Don’t let yourself slip into shotgun marketing again. Use account-based marketing as your strategic approach for finding ideal customers without having to shoot in the dark.

This post is based on an interview with Matt Donnelly from Seventh Sense

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.