Get Your Salesforce Data in Shape for Successful Account-Based Marketing

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Account-based marketing needs data to identify key accounts, drive marketing segmentation, then show what’s working (and where there’s room for improvement). While data skills are important team competencies in the long term, there are low-budget tricks you can use with Salesforce that will help you get started with building your ABM insights.

The last thing you want to do is to add these cool metrics to your page layouts and then leave everyone thinking “now what?” Here’s how you can get your data in shape before diving head-first into other ABM technologies.

Why ABM Needs Data

By cross-referencing firmographic data (i.e. facts about an account) with your own first-party data (data that you collect from the prospect) you should be able to identify a pattern that offers definitive insights about your best customers.

B2B companies can apply this analysis to narrow down their target accounts to businesses of specific sizes, revenue, within particular verticals, and more depending on their use case.

Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

One key step in rolling out ABM is developing ideal customer profiles (ICPs). These are representations of the types of businesses that will find the most value in your ABM offerings, and therefore, are the best targets for your campaign approaches. Documenting ICPs means that the information can be clearly communicated across all teams involved in ABM.

The process involves interviewing individuals that work for your highest revenue-generating accounts. This will build your understanding of how your solutions allow them to overcome critical business challenges.

Keep in mind that even though the word “customer” features in the name, ICPs refer to the company, not an individual employee at the account.

Research using your CRM data

Your CRM is a treasure trove of useful insights about your customers and the internal operations that serve them, powered by Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot/Marketing Cloud (or equivalent tools your organization uses instead).

Salesforce reports, or CRM Analytics (formerly Tableau CRM) including B2B Marketing Analytics, will become your best friend. Investigate data for key attributes including:

  • Opportunities: Compare reports of the top “closed won” and “closed lost” (with reason) deals.
  • Customer Lifetime Value: How much money have customers spent with your organization? How long have they been customers (taking renewals into consideration) and what is their lifetime value? What are the characteristics in common with these accounts?
  • Customer churn: Which accounts were once customers but are no longer? Why were they not an ideal fit?
  • Narrow down: Which are the top 5% of accounts? Get very familiar with these organizations, including their assets (products purchased), cases raised, and other related records.

Account score

This is one metric that will guide many ABM decisions. Account score summarizes your findings around ICP into one value, whether that’s a number or a letter, that takes all positive and negative characteristics into consideration.

Options for how to calculate account score vary. You could use Salesforce features, such as Einstein Key Account Identification, or Pardot Grading. Alternatively, you could opt to create your own custom account score model (shown in the next section). It’s worth noting that a custom account score can leverage Salesforce features as one determinant of it.

Building an ABM targets list

Complex data mechanisms aren’t necessary for building a target account list. In fact, the tried-and-tested solution is a simple picklist field (on the account object) with values such as “Target Account”, or “Tier 1”, “Tier 2”, etc. You will want to create a report that groups accounts according to their target value, so that you can continue to monitor if too many accounts are in one target bucket.

In the image below, the field has been added as a column a list view, which has also been filtered by one target value, ready for salespeople to work with the records more easily.

Reports and Dashboards

READ MORE: Two Vital Account-Based Engagement Dashboards in Salesforce

Data Roles & Responsibilities

From data modeling to system integrations, a successful ABM team needs at least one team member who loves – or at least doesn’t dread – working with data. Ideally, you have team members familiar with data architecture, data compliance, system integrations, and data analysis tools. Other data competencies you should have at your disposal include the ability to:

  • ​​Design a data model – both mapping and configuration.
  • Establish a database of record (DBOR).
  • Maintain data hygiene.
  • Understand what the established integrations with other systems do – and build new ones if required.
  • Create data extensions to store customer data.
  • Create data extracts and reports.
  • Upload data to the appropriate system/s.

Low-Budget Salesforce Tricks to Extend Your ABM Insights

As a powerful and flexible CRM, Salesforce comes with an extensive data model. This means that you should expect to work with multiple objects, and the relationships between them – leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, opportunity line Items, assets, campaigns, tasks, and events – the list goes on!

Note: Your Salesforce org may be different, such as custom objects that have been added into the mix.

Visualizing the spider’s web of related objects is the best way to begin understanding how and where your data is stored – and where it needs to be surfaced (the “target” object). ​​That’s why the ability to “design a data model – both mapping and configuration” was no. 1 on the data responsibilities list in the previous section. Once you understand Salesforce data relationships, the ways you can “roll-up” data are limited only by your imagination!

But what does it mean to “roll-up” data? Simply, you are summarizing data from child records and presenting it as one field on the target object. In an ABM context, you want to gather up the intel provided by all records related to the account. This will become clearer once you work through the examples later in this guide.

The golden rule: You can roll-up to, or from, both standard or custom objects, providing either a lookup relationship or master-detail relationship exists between the two objects (i.e. the child and target object).

READ MORE: The 6 Types of Relationships in Salesforce

Depending on which object relationship you’re dealing with, you will have different options:

  • Master-detail: Create a field with the field type “roll-up summary”
  • Lookup: It isn’t as straightforward to create the roll-up, so you will need to bring in additional tools to make it happen. One option available is Declarative Lookup Summaries (DLRS) and the other, more user-friendly option, is Roll-up Helper. DLRS is free, but comes with a learning curve, whereas Roll-up Helper is a freemium product, granting the first 3 lookup roll-ups for free.

Reasons to roll-up data

  • Marketing segmentation: Roll-up account and opportunity data for account-centric segmentation, to point your marketing efforts in the right direction.
  • Sales accountability: Roll-up sales activities to the account-level can keep track of how sales and service teams are interacting with accounts.

Take the following examples and tweak them to fit your org’s data model.

1. Identify account white space

“White space” refers to the gaps where a customer has not purchased all the products/services that would be a good match for them. This is the foundation of up-sell and cross-sell strategies. You can think of this as “low hanging fruit” as it’s less effort to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.

Object relationship/s: Master-detail but the desired outcomes in this use case (text, formulas) go beyond Salesforce roll-up summary fields.

Roll-up summary overview:

Opportunity products → Opportunities → Account

  1. Start with opportunities that are “closed won”.
  2. Roll-up summary 1: On the opportunity object, create a roll-up summary for the opportunity products (i.e. the line items) that the customer has purchased to the opportunity.
  3. Roll-up summary 2: Then, on the account object, create a roll-up to take the first roll-up’s value to the account-level (another step up the hierarchy).
  4. You now have a text field of the products that have been purchased by the account. You could use these results in a formula, for example, to identify the account that purchased “Product A” and “Product B”, but hasn’t purchased “Product C”. The formula could present colored flags, or also text e.g. “Product C Upsell”.

2. Identify stakeholders or missing contacts

Effective ABM is partly down to having enough coverage of contacts within an account. This roll-up is simple for spotting gaps but you can also tweak the roll-up to your requirements, for example, excluding contacts from the finance department, or only including contacts with certain job titles or seniority.

Object relationship/s: Master-detail (can be achieved with a Salesforce roll-up field type)

Roll-up summary overview:

Contact → Account

  1. On the account object, create a roll-up summary to count the number of contacts.
  2. Add any filters (e.g. those mentioned above)

3. Account leads matching

As you likely know, leads and contacts exist separately in Salesforce. Contacts are related to the account, whereas leads are pre-qualified records that haven’t deserved their place on the account yet. However, leads that could belong to the account are still valuable to your marketing campaigns, to increase the coverage of your marketing efforts across the account.

To alleviate this object divide, Salesforce released the “Matched Leads Component” (shown in the previous image, on the right-hand side). While this provides rich information and is useful for working with leads one-to-one, it doesn’t allow for you to continue scooping up leads that could be marketed to.

Object relationship/s: Lookup

Roll-up summary overview:

Lead → Account

  1. On the Account object, create a roll-up summary to count the number of leads whose email domain matches the account’s website domain.

4. Custom account score

Account score summarizes your findings around ICP into one value – whether that’s a number or a letter – it takes all positive and negative characteristics into consideration.

We already know that there are different options that can be used as-is or combined using a roll-up:

  • Einstein Key Account Identification: An AI-driven, out-of-the-box account score available to Pardot customers (with Pardot Advanced or Pardot Premium).
  • Pardot Grading: A rules-based calculation that takes a prospect’s (individual’s) attributes into consideration. Depending on how you have set up your grading framework, this can also include attributes at the account level, such as industry, annual revenue, etc.
  • Pardot Score/Einstein Behavior Score: If it’s tracking marketing engagement/behavior (rather than ICP fit) then a roll-up of either of these Pardot features will be what you want. Pardot Score is a rules-based calculation (like Pardot Grade) whereas Einstein Behavior Score is AI-driven, and is a relative score with a maximum of 100 (available with Pardot Advanced or Pardot Premium). Therefore, the calculation type will be different for each; you would total the Pardot Score, whereas calculating an average for Einstein Behavior Score would be more appropriate.
  • Custom account score: You could decide to combine firmographic fit (Pardot Grading) with behavior (Pardot score/Einstein Behavior Score), and even add additional factors into the mix.

Object relationship/s: Master-detail (but requires a tool beyond Salesforce roll-up summary fields)

Roll-up summary overview:

Lead → (Account) → Account

  1. On the Account object, create a roll-up summary to count/average the grades/scores of contacts and any other account-level attributes.

If you’re familiar with grading, it may help to think of this setup just like how the grading frameworks work. Which field value/s should increase the overall score, and by how much? What’s a strong, good, or weak match?

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Pardot Grading

5. Account activities snapshot

Monitoring activity that’s happening within an account is important for any sales team – and for marketers too! Not only does activity data point your marketing segmentation in the right direction, but it also helps to keep a pulse on how sales and service teams are interacting with accounts.

You can determine:

  • When the most recent interaction happened (task completed).
  • When the next task is planned (open task) and what type it is (e.g. Discovery Call follow-up, Demo, Proposal negotiation).
  • How many in-person meetings your sales reps are having for any given week/month.
  • The number of sales or marketing interactions it takes to close an opportunity.
  • The notes from the most recent task for any contacts in the account.

Object relationship/s: Master-detail (but requires a tool beyond Salesforce roll-up summary fields)

Roll-up summary overview:

Contact → Account → (Opportunity)

  1. On the Account object, create a roll-up summary to count the number of tasks, or summarize task information.
  2. Add any filters (e.g. those mentioned above).

6. Campaign recency and frequency

The way the campaign object is designed means it can be tricky to summarize information at the account-level. This is a great example of a cross-object roll-up, by pulling the campaign information through multiple objects (campaign members, lead/ contact) and finally ending up displayed on the account.

Use roll-ups to gain insight from campaign members such as:

  • The date of the most recent campaign.
  • The name of the most recent campaign.

Consider adding this contact-level field to the contact related list, which your view from the account record. You can extend this to a longer (text area) field to see a list of the campaigns from all the members of that account.

7. Identify key accounts “in the red”

Need to know about which cases an account has? Support cases, whether resolved or unresolved can inform anybody working with the account about their satisfaction when working with your product and organization.

You can tailor this to what your teams would consider an account “in the red”. Perhaps that’s whether more than two cases have been logged in a 7-day timeframe.

These warning signs could result in case escalation. Marketers may consider suppressing dissatisfied customers from up-sell campaigns until support queries are solved.

Extending salesforce roll-ups

I started off by explaining the difference between relationships and also why some outcomes (e.g. fields with text data) are not possible with standard Salesforce roll-up summaries (even when working with master-detail relationships). Hopefully, you’re clearer on when and why you would need to use DLRS/Lookup Helper.

What’s more, because data roll-up results are ending up in normal, custom Salesforce fields (on the account record) these results are usable in Salesforce/Pardot (MCAE) automation, namely Salesforce Flow, and Engagement Studio, and Automation Rules, and Dynamic Lists on the Pardot (MCAE) side. This is what we’ll look into in the next section.

Pardot (MCAE) Segmentation and Automation

Account data to prospect relationships should be worked into your segmentation approach when data is synced to Pardot.

Examples of Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) Automation Rules:\

  • Customer Lifetime Value | is greater than | 50000
  • Number of Account events last month | is greater than | 1
  • Products purchased | is/contains | Subscription

Examples of Pardot (MCAE) Engagement Studio rule steps:

  • Number of Account Campaigns | is greater than | 2

Remember that with complex rule steps, you can combine multiple criteria easily.

Note: prospects currently in the sales process who are not on your ABM target account list could get overlooked, but you don’t want to treat them like strangers in your campaigns! Remember to set up parallel campaign automation that caters to these non-target prospects.

Monitoring and Measuring ABM Success

With all these metrics floating around your CRM, how can you turn these insights into successes (and where is there room for improvement)?

Prepping the Salesforce User Experience

Over time, Salesforce has added an array of marketing data components that surface Pardot (MCAE) insights.

READ MORE: Complete List of Pardot in Salesforce

Adding and removing components from the Salesforce UI is easy. I’ve said before, there are two approaches to how you design your Salesforce pages – you can either decide on what’s useful to your teams, and add components incrementally, or add everything and then evaluate what’s actually being used (versus page clutter).

Note: You can create different page layouts for different teams, i.e. a marketing-specific layout.

Once you’ve created ABM reports in Salesforce or B2BMA, you can embed these on page layouts, informative for sales teams.

Check out this report by Forrester for more tips on adopting buying group metrics and identifying buying signals.

Technologies to Extend Your ABM Campaigns

So far, we’ve spoken about adapting the technologies you have already in your toolbox, namely Salesforce and Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement). While Pardot (MCAE) can deliver marketing automation, and Salesforce aggregate data at the account level, to really ramp up ABM, there are other technologies to consider.

To state the obvious, walk before you run. Start small with manageable ABM with the tools you are already familiar with. Once you have that all-important team alignment, account-aggregated data, etc. then you are ready to extend your tech stack.

The two ABM platforms that come to mind are:

  • Terminus: Includes an “Engagement Hub” to coordinate channels across Ads, Email, Chat, etc. Also has a “Data Studio” to identify custom audience segments, leverage firmographic data on millions of businesses, and create precise and relevant audiences from first- and third-party data sources.
  • Demandbase: Include “ABX Cloud” (account-based experience), “Account Intelligence”, combining first- and third-party data sources, “Advertising Cloud” to serve up targeted ads, and their “Data Cloud”.

While you can achieve this with multiple tools from Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud suite, the two vendors above have been designed for ABM, from the ground up.

Summary

It’s clear that account-based marketing needs data to identify key accounts, drive marketing segmentation, then show what’s working (and where there’s room for improvement). In this guide, we’ve covered the technologies, tricks, and metrics for:

  • Starter ABM: Get your data in shape with “low-budget” tricks, especially roll-ups, to get the most out of your Salesforce data (removing barriers the data model imposes) in order to enhance your Salesforce Account records.
  • Enhanced ABM: Move on to technologies that have been designed for ABM, from the ground up (e.g. Terminus, Demandbase).

Walk before you run. Before extending your tech stack by investing in other technologies, start with manageable ABM using the tools you are already familiar with (Salesforce, Pardot/MCAE) to gain that all-important team alignment, account-aggregated data, etc.

One thought on “Get Your Salesforce Data in Shape for Successful Account-Based Marketing

  1. Clean data is the foundation for effective ABM and Sales outreach. If you’re not capturing all of your sales teams activities properly, a Salesforce-native sales engagement platform like Groove can automate this to get more comprehensive and accurate data.

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