How to Align Marketing and Sales for a Successful ABM?
Account Based Marketing has gained a lot of popularity even though it was practiced by marketers for a long time. ABM is a marketing strategy that has proven to be a game changer. However, it is not unusual for the sales team to push the ABM implementation back as its new strategy. Targeting only a small number of accounts by scrapping the rest of the dataset can give any salesperson a weak heart and when ABM asks sales to work with few leads, the whole proposition becomes scary.
By holding the marketing back from getting on-board with ABM, the sales team is also holding themselves back in the process.
Account based marketing strategies need inputs from across the departments in the organization because they work for the business and benefit it. This is the reason why alignment should be maintained between the sales and marketing team so that your competition doesn’t have an advantage on your customers.
As we already agreed, ABM’s popularity has grown ten-fold and for a good reason – coordinating your resources so that you can pursue and convert specific accounts that work.
So, the question is, what do the marketers and sales team need to do for ensuring their ABM is successful. The answer is – Align.
And the good news is that ABM gets sales and marketing teams together, by its very nature, for as long as they agree to work together. It will be difficult initially but if you want to make the sales and marketing partnership work you will have to take the first step towards alignment.
Both the marketing and sales resources are first concentrated and deployed together, creating a good tailored message for marketing and arranging more productive sales engagement with more conversion of accounts.
Role of Sales in ABM
The team that understands target accounts is – Sales. They know which account is the biggest, which account is weak and needs more attention and which account fits the description of an ideal buyer as per your industry. — Tweet this sentence
Therefore, as per ABM the first step from the sales team will be the identification of the target accounts. Also, since they stay at the front of the line, they can provide useful insights, meaty details about the existing and target buyers, so that the marketing team can create a dynamic buyer persona, also known as step two of account based marketing.
Role of Marketing in ABM
When the marketing team is armed with the above information from the sales, it is up to them to choose the correct content, the appropriate channel and the best time to deliver it.
Marketing is known to launch their content on website, email, social media and in-person along with the advertisement. To take things forward, the sales team then strategically responds to social engagement, follows up on the email campaigns and take other necessary steps to guide the buyer through the sales journey.
How will Alignment Help?
The marketing team attracts prospects through different avenues like email, advertisement, and social media by using a broad marketing strategy, after which the sales team take the work over to convert the leads to customers. The sales and marketing team will work together throughout ABM, but the planning for alignment should be strategically done, even if it is for a little while.
You should also understand that the two teams, which have worked in different silos for the longest period of time, will not be cordial to each other and play as a single team just because a person asks them to be aligned. Breaking old habits, even for the most well-intentioned team member, proves to be difficult.
Therefore, once, when both the teams are settled, follow the steps given below to plan how the alignment can happen at each step.
1. Identifying Target Accounts
Identification of the target accounts should have the involvement of the entire ABM team. Both marketing and sales team can bring their own list but they should mandatorily leave with the same short list. You should look at the overlapping factors in both the lists first and then agree on a lead scoring system and then score the rest of the potential accounts to see which amongst them is more likely to close.
2. Create Buyer Personas
Even if you have managed to align the sales and marketing team, albeit poorly, they have managed to work on targeting and converting the same prospects. Creating buyer personas is more about the details rather than overlapping. A marketing persona will recognize the companies, business priorities, titles or positions, etc. whereas the sales’ insight will add the pain points of the prospects, FAQs, etc. All of the information is very important for ABM.
3. Find the Right Content
If, after step two, the personas have changed drastically, there is a need to intermission in the meetings while marketing retools a few content pieces that already exist. You can also ask the sales team to give their inputs and retool the content by working on it together. You should ideally start with the one that is often used by the sales team and make sure that the content pieces align with the persona and some phase of the buyer’s journey.
Marketing will have the data that has the highest response rate and sales will know which one of them works the best with people when it is time to close an account.
4. Integrate ABM
For integrating ABM in your multi-channel strategy you will require the participation of both, the sales and marketing team, on different channels. Though marketing might have a bigger piece of the cake, sales will still help integrate the content into personal emails, meetings, and phone calls. To ensure that no target accounts receive an irrelevant content or same content twice, you need to have an ideal CRM and marketing automation platform.
5. Measure and Optimize
This is the responsibility of the marketing team to prepare the data but it needs to be shared and reviewed by the whole ABM team regularly. Sales’ pipeline metrics and marketing’s engagement metrics crossover to account based marketing. The strategy will also require monitoring and measuring new engaged leads and new contacts that are identified and mapped to the accounts.
In ABM, the sales and marketing teams have a stake in each and every step, but it should also be intentional. This alignment makes the strategy stronger than ever along with a focus on target accounts. Once it is achieved, you can see a big difference in the conversions.