The first stage of the identification process is to create a list of possible targets who have a problem you can solve and are located in a geographical region that you cover.
As ABM requires multiple stakeholders from the purchaser's side for each account, even with 30 accounts in your list and with only 5 stakeholders in each, you are looking at 150 individuals who need to be contacted and nurtured. ABM is nothing if not a commitment.
Your eventual decision on the number of target accounts will come down to the size of your team and the percentage of business you require ABM to generate.
For a ‘toe in the water’ approach, an ABM20 campaign (i.e. 20 target accounts) can be a good start, and can gradually build as you prove success to an eventual, comfortable ABM100. For larger enterprises, the ultimate aim might be an ABM2,500 campaign.
Your starting point can be an existing sales list, but this will need to work in conjunction with detailed firmographic data to ensure that your target accounts can be serviced well (geographic location etc), have a defined need that your products or services can assist with and, ideally, that they are a sector in which you have good experience.
We may also need to consider technographic data (i.e. profiling target accounts based on their technology stack). Much like demographics. Technographic profiling allows you to answer questions such as:
What software does the target company currently use?
What hardware do they use?
What direct competitor products do they use?
What similar, non-competing products do they use?
These questions will help identify if your product is a good fit for the target account, and in the case of the last question if budget is allocated for these types of products, a very good signal if your product or service attracts a premium price. For example if one of our target companies use Eloqua or Pardot we know that they have a significant marketing budget for marketing technology tools, so our personalisation-based Content Management Solution could be affordable.
After the initial list building, it can be tempting to continue to add more accounts that fit the given criteria. This is rarely a good idea. We suggest only adding new accounts as you 'retire' those you feel are looking unlikely to convert, or when you jump to the next tier of ABM and scale up. ABM is time-consuming and if your list is too large you run the risk of falling back into a traditional sales (or the 'spray and pray' approach) and not adhering to the tried and true ABM methodology. This would seriously impact your return on investment.