Inbound Recap : Account-Based Marketing in an Inbound World

5 min read

Inbound Sales

Last week,  I attended HubSpot's INBOUND conference in Boston. I got the chance to listen to some of the brightest and most accomplished people share their secrets for success. These were best-selling authors, wildly successful business owners, motivational speakers and thought leaders all with their own unique systems and techniques for becoming high performers.

In one of my sessions, Patrick Shea - VP of Demand Generation, at Cybereason talked about Account-Based Marketing in an Inbound World. I want to share my takeaways with you today. 

Account-based marketing and inbound are often called opposites. But they are not.

ABM is known as key account marketing and is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with an individual prospect.

That is not short for cold calling.

Instead, they are complimentary pieces, and crucial to any full-funnel marketing strategy. 


The session unpacked the typically dense ABM playbook into action items. Cybereason has about an 18-month long sales cycle and sells high-ticket deals. So, their approach may be different than yours based on your product or service and sales cycle.

Either way, the key's to ABM are persona knowledge, leveraging content and consistency. 

1. In-depth Persona Knowledge 

Yes, you have heard this 1,000 times but do you really understand where your persona hangs out online? I am mean, do you really know them?

I am sure you have answered questions like the ones below to figure out your basic persona information.

  1. Describe your personal demographics.
  2. Describe your educational background.
  3. Describe your career path.
  4. What does a typical day look like?
  5. Which skills are required to do your job?

Going through HubSpot persona questions and creating your personas in HubSpot is a great start. However, what does your persona they really want from you? Are you actually helping to solve their problems?buyer-persona-example.png

Well, if your stats are low the answer is no. It's that simple.

You're not nailing down your personas and correctly marketing to them. 

Don't be hard on yourself. We see misleading persona development all of the time. It's a rare occasion for a fellow marketer to admit they aren't clear on their buyers. That's why we take all of our new clients through a deep dive into the world of their personas. It takes about eight, one-hour sessions, countless hours of research on our end to come up with our 40-page digital marketing plan.

By the end of the process, we both know your persona inside and out. It's interesting how many people start the process thinking that their key personas are one person but end up being another. We have seen people kill off entire personas after this process and they too thought they knew their personas inside and out. 

2. Leveraging Content 

As marketers, we are told to create quality and consistent content. We hear this over and over but what does that mean for ABM? Well, it's probably best understood with an initial conversation with your sales team. You should be meeting with them on a regular basis to understand what prospects are saying and what they are asking for from the sales team.

Patrick Shea suggested creating an intro giveaway that really stands out.

Yes, that is code for direct mail.

Wait, What? I thought this was about inbound marketing?

Well, it's direct mail with a twist.

He sends out a custom-made and branded Nerf guns to prospects. These cool Nerf guns are shipped complete with bullets and batteries. Once the FedEx box is delivered, it triggers a notification to the salesperson that sent it.  From there, marketing automation kicks in and a personalized email from the salesperson is sent immediately. 

Check out the Nerf gun!

Patrick Shea

These Nerf guns go beyond wow! They command a response from the prospect almost immediately. You need to brainstorm what could make sense for you to send to your prospects.

Once they have their foot in the door, the 18-month long sales process begins for the team at Cybereason. 


Patrick Shea didn't share how much he spends on the Nerf guns, but with high dollar deals and a long sales cycle, I would image you spend a couple of hundred dollars on your target accounts each.

Obviously, if your deals aren't as high of value, you need to adjust your give-a-way to align with your budget. I think it needs to be something more than a t-shirt, mug or koozie though. 

Here is a list of ideas to get you thinking. 

  • Laptop Backpacks
  • Power Banks
  • Personalized Business Card Holders
  • Personalized Note Books
  • Personalized Clocks
  • Gift Baskets
  • Food
  • Wine
  • A Watch

So, the questions for you becomes....what can you send to get noticed? 

3. Consistency 

Sales is a numbers game. It's that simple.

You need to reach X number of people to get X number of sales.

So, you need to be consistently sending out quality marketing content. You need to build plays that pave the way for sales. If you're looking for examples of templates for your plays you can check out HubSpot.  HubSpot has always been a leader in creating playbooks. 

These are some great ideas.

You need to be creating something similar to these examples for your marketing and sales. Laying out an actual playbook will give a visual representation to everyone on your team. That will reduce confusion and increase usability. 

Patrick Shea truly brought his A game to the presentation. He was funny, real and gave me some great ideas.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What are you sending out to propects? What would get you to respond? Tweet me the answers @RayleeMelton.