ABM could just be the approach that breaks through the sales and marketing alignment impasse. Clive Armitage presents five top tips
The much hoped for nirvana of sales and marketing alignment feels as far away as ever. But if sales are turned off by unfulfilling leads and generic content, and marketing teams want more feedback to better target their campaigns, what strategy will unite them?
Account-based marketing (or ABM) changes the game. While ABM isn’t a silver bullet to end the clashes on the marketing and sales battleground, it is a method of changing the dynamic between the two teams permanently. ABM does away with the traditional sales model, where marketing captures leads at the top of the funnel and sales converts them at the bottom. By using data and insights, and measuring sales results, ABM can provoke sales and marketing to unite under a true goal of the customer.
But where to start, and how can you gain sales buy-in and convince them that ABM is the right strategy to adopt? Here are five ways to get your sales team to love ABM:
1) Gauge opinion
People support what they help to create. Start by asking the sales team about the current quality of the leads, the relevancy of the content and campaigns from marketing – are they satisfied with what they are getting and what is being achieved? Invariably, they will say no. This then presents the ideal opportunity to demonstrate how a highly-targeted ABM strategy will improve those leads and campaigns, and drive better results for the sales team.
Explaining how ABM can deliver deeper insights on stakeholders and company strategy, how it can help determine the direction and message of the content, which all drives better results and, therefore, help hit targets should get the buy-in of the head of sales and senior salespeople at the very least.
2) Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration
Aligning under the same goals and objectives with KPIs attached will help to unite the teams from the outset. For example, at digital services company Atos, sales and marketing teams are in constant collaboration, with joint ROI targets and marketing reporting into the senior VP of sales. Shared meetings and account plans are essential so that marketing teams can then run an outcome-driven ABM programme.
Working together, marketing can demonstrate how data and insight can be used to conduct stakeholder mapping to find out who is key to sell to, what they are interested in, or account deep dives to help the sales team work out new areas for cross-and upsell opportunities they might not have discovered previously.
3) Choose specific accounts carefully
Sales want results and they want to hit their targets. They want to be excited about selling. Choose an account to pilot with that has a big opportunity pipeline and show the sales team how ABM will give them a premium marketing service, with personalised content, tailored messaging and more effective targeting of stakeholders. This can be done using data and insight – whereby companies and stakeholders can be analysed to find out, according to their online profiles, what topics or areas they might be interested in.
By picking an account that will yield results, the sales teams will get excited about their account plan and the programme can be put into action.
4) Share the results
This winning ABM pilot account can be used as a tangible example of how ABM can help close deals and hit sales targets. Using this account as a demonstration of how data was used, how stakeholder insight enabled tailored messaging and how that engaged the customers more readily, should pique the interest of other members of the sales team.
Demonstrate how ABM provides not just air-cover marketing, but specific tactics and strategies driven by the account plan and targeted with the single goal of helping sales sell better, more efficiently and more effectively to the customer.
5) Measure, tweak, target (rinse and repeat)
Sales teams need constant proof they are being successful, so regular tracking of each account and the evidence of success will help keep everyone focused. Measuring sales cycles, targets, what’s been sold and what opportunities may still be open on a monthly dashboard that’s easy for them to access will also keep the momentum going.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) models could be developed for in-depth feedback and to reassure sales that the ABM programme is delivering value. Feedback should be forthcoming so sales teams have the opportunity to comment on specific tactics and how well they were received and to programmatically show increased engagement on the account. This enables marketing to constantly tweak and tailor campaigns to ensure maximum resonance with the stakeholder, thereby continually increasing their propensity to buy.