Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy that companies have used to gain stronger leads and generate more valuable sales for ages, but modern research and analytics capabilities, along with the connectivity of email and social media, imbue it with tremendous potential, especially in B2B. So, it may not be too surprising that the 2021 Marketing Mix Report lists ABM as the leading strategy among marketing and sales teams heading into next year.
Even though ABM has “marketing” right in the name, it’s more than a marketing tool. ABM is a collaborative effort between marketing and sales teams to connect with the key individuals that influence high-level business decisions and streamline their buyer journeys.
Marketing and sales develop a plan that describes the entire journey, from prospect to sale, for a specific type of buyer account and optimize each step to suit each account. All the work of sorting out the most valuable accounts is done upfront, making way for more effective optimizations that speed up the buyer’s journey. The success of an ABM campaign is dependent on the markets and audiences in question and is especially effective in high-value B2B sales journeys.
The Differences Between Sales & Marketing
There are plenty of obvious traditional differences between sales and marketing departments, but a successful ABM campaign demands that those teams work in harmony. When talking about ABM, the key differences come from the responsibilities of each.
Marketing teams develop and organize all the content assets sales can use to inform, excite, and convert key accounts. From landing pages and blogs to ads and emails, marketing creates pieces that help sales explain who your company is, what it does, and why your products or services are great. Marketing relies on sales’ unique knowledge of customer pain points to sculpt the most effective content possible and must continuously educate sales on how different pieces should be used to achieve the best results.
Sales teams must be prepared to promptly follow up on leads generated by the marketing team’s work. Since ABM has a relatively narrow focus, there will be fewer prospects in your funnel, but those you attract should be of a much higher quality. In communicating customer needs to marketing, sales should describe which tactics, angles, and language are or aren’t working to refine your approach for the future.
Tips for Aligning Sales & Marketing
Hold Weekly & Monthly Meetings
Marketing team members should be included in sales meetings and reporting to understand where sales stands in relation to their goals and provide support when possible. The teams should discuss new sales, offers, and events and give people a chance to suggest and discuss new content ideas. Managers from each team should collaborate to analyze results on key metrics, such as lead generation, MQLs, and conversion rates.
Share Content Creation Ideas
When your head is always in creative mode, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and your key goals. Marketing depends on the guidance of sales to ensure that offers and language are relevant, up to date, and in precise alignment with your customers’ needs. Hold brainstorming sessions where sales can share customer insights and provide feedback and ideas for new content. As marketing learns more about how sales interacts with customers, they can further sharpen the resources that help salespeople demonstrate their expertise and showcase your company in the best light possible.
Coordinate Campaigns with Events & Promotions
Companies are constantly promoting new offers and content, and marketing and sales must decide which opportunities and messaging are appropriate for each account or audience. Not every sale or promotion is relevant to every account, so there needs to be clear communication surrounding each piece’s usage and intent and where those pieces belong in your buyer’s journey. It can help to keep a shared calendar of scheduled promotions so that sales and marketing can always see exactly where you should be in the process.
Define Your Shared Goals & Analyses
Historically, sales and marketing have had their eyes on different KPIs. Sales may look at revenue while marketing is focused on website traffic. To get the most value out of your ABM campaigns, sales and marketing need shared goals they can use to measure campaign performance and influence future decisions. Just as the lines of communication on the creative side should always be open, so should the analytical side! Things like conversion rate and lead value are a couple of examples of the shared KPIs that sales and marketing can strive for together.
It’s pretty easy to see how much the success of your ABM campaigns rests on the back of deliberate collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Luckily, the strategies above can be implemented seamlessly into your existing campaign or integrated into those you’re planning for 2021.
Check out the 2021 Marketing Mix Report for more insights on optimizing your marketing spend for next year, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for help with your campaign.