In this case study, I share the step-by-step process we used to run an ABM campaign for a high-ticket B2B service provider that generated $300k in revenue and a 37% reply rate (12 of 30 accounts replied).

I spent two months creating a go-to-market strategy and developing lead generation and sales processes for my client from scratch. Next two months, I spent on account research, personalized proposals, warming-up target accounts, and outreach.

While from first glance, it seems that it took too long to orchestrate the campaign, it was even faster than I expected.

Here is why.

I got a request from a new client, a custom software development company, to help them develop a go-to-market strategy and lead generation system. They’ve never done marketing, worked as a “one size fits all” vendor, and grew by referrals and roadshows.

During the discovery call, they mentioned that they do traditional email and LinkedIn outreach, but had a shallow reply rate (less than 2%).

Besides referrals, they attended exhibitions and roadshow booking meetings with event attendees and presenting their services. The only problem was that they saw a massive drop-off after these meetings (5% reply to after-event follow-ups).

ABM Campaign Stages

Stage 1 – Marketing Audit And Roadmapping

I always start long-term engagement with marketing audit and roadmapping. The goal of the audit is to identify the root reasons for the challenges my client has and other bottlenecks he has no clue about.

Marketing audit helps to:

  • Outline all the areas of marketing and sales that need improvement before launching lead generation campaigns.
  • Understand what channels and programs will work for the client and eliminate those that won’t work.
  • Produce an accurate estimate of the project timeline and cost, preventing irritating and costly overages and delays.
  • Define the ROI

During the audit, I’ve figured out that my client doesn’t have an ideal customer profile. They described the target audience as “tech startups who need development help or bigger companies that need to ramp up their team quickly.”

As you guess, thousands of other software development companies all around the world have the same approach. So almost all sales pitches ended with their clients negotiating the rates and comparing them to other vendors. My client either needed to decrease rates or lose the deal.

As a result, I realized we need to develop the go-to-market strategy from scratch.

Stage 2 – ABM Marketing Strategy

While this stage is critical, I won’t dive deeply here. I use a standard framework for B2B marketing strategy development (I’ve described it in the guest post for Sales Hacker).

So I’ll just outline the most critical outcomes.

Market Segmentation

As a result of market segmentation, we have defined that the healthcare segment was more profitable than others. My client had a robust portfolio and domain knowledge. As well, this segment had a higher LTV than others.

Ideal Customer Profile

Geo

US and Canada

Vertical

Healthcare startups

Sub-industries

Software product/SAAS, Hardware/Medical devices, Software consulting, Clinics&Hospitals, Healthcare Insurance.

Our ICP were US and Canada healthcare startups from sub-industries as Software product/SAAS, Hardware/Medical devices, Software consulting, Clinics&Hospitals, Healthcare Insurance.

The only challenge we faced that depending on the client’s maturity, they had different needs, different buying processes and buying committee structure, and, obviously, different revenue potential.

So we needed to create separate ICPs for enterprise, mid-size, and startups. I’ll cover this process later.

Customer journey (typical buying process)

My client never ran in-depth surveys with customers. They had only assumptions about why do their clients buy from them, how their decision-making process looks like and what influences it.

Our next step was to arrange calls with key customers and understand their buying process and identify our value proposition.

Customer journey example

These interviews helped us to identify our unique value proposition and value proposition amplifiers. As well, we became more clear on the buying committee structure and how to influence every buying committee member.

Unique value proposition

Based on client interviews, I made a list of value proposition hypotheses.

Unique value proposition example

I deliberately called them “hypotheses” cause we needed to validate if they resonate with our clients. So the next step was to run a validation survey.

Here is a part of our survey.

Unique value proposition validation

It helped to clarify the hooks and value proposition amplifiers we can use in our outreach.

Account selection and disqualification

The next step was to identify criteria for account selection and disqualification. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose account selection criteria but will provide you disqualification criteria.

The reason why we add them is that we must be clear who is 100% a bad fit so that we won’t waste time and money.

One of the criteria was a country of origin of decision-makers.

CTOs and CEOs from Eastern Europe, India, or Russian-speaking countries usually had a good tech network in their country, and in 99% of cases were negotiating the rates.

The second disqualification criteria were the active hiring of product managers or back-end developers, which means they had root back-end problems and won’t be interested in collaboration at the moment.

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Stage 3 – Campaign Orchestration

Account categorization and personalization

As I mentioned earlier, we created three tiers of clients.

Tier 3

Team size

Less than 40 people

Buying committee

CTO, product manager, and CEO

Need

Developing specific features according to US medical standards like HL7, HIPAA.

To Tier 3, we added startups with a team size of fewer than 40 people that need help with developing specific features according to US medical standards like HL7, HIPAA.

The buying committee consists of CTO (who is usually a co-founder), product manager (Influencer), and CEO.

We had lots of Tier 3 accounts in CRM. These were prospects with who my client contacted in the past or met on roadshows.

For a pilot campaign, we decided to re-engage 40 accounts with cold email outreach.

Tier 2

Team size

Up to 200 people

Buying committee

Product manager, CTO, senior software engineer, CEO, HR

Need

Quickly ramp up the team with a specific skillset on a timely basis.

Tier 2 – mid-sized companies up to 200 people that need to quickly ramp up the team with a specific skillset on a timely basis.

The buying committee consists of 4 target roles: product manager, CTO, senior software engineer, CEO. As well, I decided to add one more job role, which is usually ignored by software development companies: HR.

The reason why do they ignore HRs is that they tend to think if a company is hiring, then there is no interest in outsourcing/outstaffing services. This is not true, and later, in this case, I’ll prove it.

We selected 30 accounts for the pilot campaign, which consisted of job role personalized pitch via direct mail and phone follow-ups.

Before the campaign has started, my client also asked me to run warming up IP-based ads, which was, honestly, a bad idea. I’ll provide more details on why ads didn’t work in the Execution section.

Tier 1

Tier 1 – enterprise companies (>500 people) that require a 100% personalization.

By 100% personalization, I mean that we adjust and personalize our warm-up and outreach message to every buying committee member and account’s goals and needs.

After a quick discussion, we decided to exclude this segment because of a lack of resources.

Account-based marketing campaign orchestration

The next step was campaign orchestration and alignment with the sales team.

While for Tier 3 account we needed to write a cadence of emails, with Tier 2 accounts we required much more time, as I needed to prepare all the content (case studies, proposals, outreach scripts, landing pages, ads, etc.) from scratch.

Here is how our ABM campaign template and timeline looked like.