Dynamics 365 – Pivoting Sales for Account Based Marketing

The other day I wrote a post about Account Based Marketing “ABM”. This was prompted by a short blog post I read on ABM, and it resonated with me as a pretty cool idea. I received a lot of responses from people “in the know”, and I quickly realized that this was not some “fringe concept”. After three days of reading up, I am even more convinced that this is worth a serious look.

Bone Up

There are quite a few great resources on what this approach is, and why it makes sense. I won’t rehash that, instead I will point you to a few that I found informative:

  1. Microsoft’s own Alex Sessoms (@Alex_Sessoms) has done a whole series on Account Based Marketing here
  2. Matt Heinz (@heinzmarketing) has gone quite deep on this, even offering a free workbook on how to get there here
  3. James Martin (@james_a_martin) also did a nice article on this here
  4. Or a search of the Twitter hashtag #ABM
  5. Or an internet search for “Account Based Marketing

Go read up, and if you like this approach, then come back here and continue reading… I’ll wait.

CRM don’t know ABM

I’m glad you’re back. One thing you may have noticed while reading up on ABM, is that it’s a different approach to how Dynamics 365 is pre-configured. When you look at the path prescribed by Dynamics 365 Sales, it typically starts with Leads. Leads is a huge bucket of “we don’t know”. It is a segregated area to pour in all of the things that come in, over the bow, from the modern approach of email and social media marketing. We don’t want to wade through this flotsam and jetsam, to work with our real deals, so they are queued up as Leads. A “successful” campaign could generate a “we don’t know” haystack of thousands of these. Clearly, this is not an Account Based Marketing approach.

The Dynamics 365 Sales App assumes that you are going to work through a “process” with a Lead towards “qualifying” it into an Account, Contact and Opportunity. The triggering event is usually an “Opportunity” for a piece of business. There is a Guided Process associated with the out-of-the-box Lead, that reinforces that this is the path, the “Lead to Opportunity Sales Process” (L.P. below). To further press this angle, once a Lead is qualified, it plops you onto the resulting Opportunity, with another Process (O.P. below) picking up where the first one left off, continuing towards a goal of closing of a specific piece of business. You will notice in this scheme, that Accounts and Contacts are secondary, the Opportunity is the King. Here is a diagram of that process:

defaultprocess

The Dynamics 365 Sales App centers around four items: Leads, Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities. The good news is, the assumed path above for these items can easily be altered to fit the ABM approach perfectly.

A Missing Account Process

In an Account Based Marketing approach, the path would look a little different, here is another nifty diagram of the ABM process:

ABMProcess

If you compare this process with the one above you will notice a different emphasis. Where the traditional approach focuses on surfacing a potential “Opportunity”, this approach focuses on surfacing a potential “Target Account”. This would require some alternative forms, views and a new process (A.P. above), which are not difficult to create in Dynamics 365. Creating these as alternatives, would still allow the original path to be pursued by you or others while you try this out. I will write another post soon on the actual steps, but I want to focus on the concept here.

So in an ABM approach we would look at Leads as prospective Target Accounts and our process would be tuned towards that end. “Qualifying” simply creates a Target Account. We would have a new Process on the Account record where we seek to flesh out this Target Account with all of the information we can find, including potential Target Contacts, within that Target Account. We would make heavy use of the Insights feature of Dynamics 365 here. In the ABM approach, the Account is King. This is also where the Marketing effort begins, but not the “spray and pray” approach that we have always used for Leads, this is a focused, one-to-one effort on this Target Account and the Target Contacts within it.

I will leave the ABM marketing details to the experts listed above, I am really focused here on bending the Dynamics 365 Sales App to empower this approach.

How is AMB different for Existing Customers?

It isn’t. Regardless of your initial approach, once you have a relationship with a customer, the ongoing path is the same, here is my last quickie diagram:

Dynamics 365 SalesWith an existing customer you will be looking to surface additional Opportunities for new work, for as long as you keep them happy.

I will work on a post of the steps to take with Dynamics 365 Sales, to align it to this Account Based Marketing approach soon.

 

Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog :)

15 Comments

  1. Jordan Cunningham

    Hey Steve!

    Have you written your post on how to set this up in CRM yet?

    “I will work on a post of the steps to take with Dynamics 365 Sales, to align it to this Account Based Marketing approach soon.”

    Thanks!
    Jordan

    Reply
    • Steve Mordue MVP

      Some day soon :)

      Reply
  2. Brooke Browne (@HoustonBrooke)

    Hi Steve, this is great! I have been working on ABM strategy for months and I’m finally at the point where I need to work on the Dynamics processes to adapt these changes. I have two questions for you:

    1) Do you think changing the processes in Dynamics to fit the ABM flow you have diagrammed also supports traditional lead generation marketing? Because we’ll be doing a hybrid approach, and won’t be leaving our old-school methods entirely. So Dynamics has to adapt easily to both.

    2) To make these changes to Dynamics, would this require some code changes? Or do you think it can all be done with simple configuration changes and workflows?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Steve Mordue

      This can work side by side with a traditional process, and this would not require any coding, just configuration from the UI

      Reply
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