6 Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment with Account-Based Marketing
June 9, 2021 •Mason Cosby
As you look to launch your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, success hinges on the internal alignment of your marketing and sales teams.
There will likely come some objections and resetting of expectations.
To help overcome these ABM objections, and ensure clear expectations, here are 6 tips for sales and marketing alignment with account-based marketing.
1) Use the Same Technology
If your sales and marketing teams are using different pieces of technology with different data, finding alignment will provide incredibly difficult. When marketing has no visibility into what sales is doing, they don’t know how to support. When sales has no idea what marketing campaigns are running, they don’t know how to start a relevant conversation.
When you start using the same technology, you will start to collect data that will reveal the role of both marketing and sales in closing a deal. What you may have thought was immensely important as a driver of your sales funnel may turn out to have been nothing more than a waste of time. Without the data to show your results, you can’t know.
By using a fully integrated CRM with marketing and sales functionality, you won’t have the internal alignment you are looking for. If you’d like to explore the implementation of marketing and sales technology designed to align your teams, you may want to consider implementing HubSpot. This CRM platform has the ability to meet your business where it needs help today, and scale with you as your needs expand.
2) Have Sales and Marketing Teams Regularly Meet
As you look at how you can ensure alignment between marketing and sales, you should implement a standing meeting between the teams. You align with those you have facetime with. Additionally, this facetime will provide the opportunity to address when your teams aren’t aligned.
Marketing should provide the ability to connect target accounts to sales and the pieces of marketing collateral that enable sales teams to close deals. When marketing gets away from providing those two functions, your teams are no longer aligned.
Sales also has a tendency to pursue potential opportunities and fails to inform marketing. When sales works on projects without the knowledge of marketing, marketing simply can’t support. If marketing isn’t involved, your teams aren’t aligned.
These meetings will help to ensure that marketing is in the know regarding sales activities they can support. Additionally, these meetings will allow for discussion on if these sales activities are going to benefit the overall goal of acquiring target accounts.
As you implement account-based marketing more, you should see your marketing and sales team start to become more like one team focused on long-term revenue growth.
Here are some practical ways you can foster internal alignment in these regular meetings.
3) Go Through the Target Account List Process Together
If you have not yet created a target account list, the process of creating your target account list will prove immensely helpful in creating internal alignment. A target account list is more than a list that sales provides marketing.
A target account list looks at your potential total addressable market and filters into a highly selective list of high-value accounts you know would work well with your business.
Here’s a high-level overview of how you would create a target account list.
- Create an Ideal Customer Profile: Look at your current customers. Which ones do you love working with? Identify the trends between your favorite accounts. Write the trends down. You created an Ideal Customer Profile.
- Create a Target List based on your Ideal Customer Profile: Find more companies like the current companies you love working with.
- Understand the Accounts on the list: Assess how likely each account is to buy from you. Even though every company is a good fit, they probably aren’t all likely to close quickly.
- Create a tiered approach: Now that you have assessed the likelihood of an account closing, focus your efforts on the accounts you see will close more quickly.
For a more detailed process for how you should create and segment your target account list, feel free to read our blogs titled How to Create and Use Your Target Account List for Account-Based Marketing and How to Segment your Target Account List for Account-Based Marketing.
4) Assess A Plan for Your Existing Marketing Efforts
As you transition towards ABM, your sales and marketing teams may ask what to do with the existing leads and deals in your pipeline.
One of the easiest ways to address the existing pipeline is to add a step for any inbound leads that were generated from an inbound marketing campaign. This step will simply include qualifying leads based on the ideal customer profile you created when mapping out your target account list.
Moving forward, you can start to collect more information about your inbound leads as they fill out forms to speak to sales. Based on the information they provide, you can create an automated process that assesses the information they provide and give them a different meeting length for further qualification.
Some companies will automate the qualification process, and we wouldn’t recommend automating the entire process of qualification for a few reasons.
- Sometimes people are in a rush- They just want to get to a meeting with sales. They fill in the contact information and the rest is random. Your qualifying conversation can assess that they are actually qualified and are just in a rush.
- Most employees probably don’t have all the information- The person filling out the form is scheduling the time for the decision-maker. As they fill out the form, they may not know all the details. Your qualifying call with the decision-maker on the line will allow you to see they are actually qualified.
- The ICP isn’t 100% accurate- Your ideal customer persona is just that. It’s ideal. Some of your best customers may end up not standardly fitting your ICP. When you entirely automate the qualification process, you will miss out on potential diamonds in the rough.
- Form submissions are still people- Behind every form submission is a person. Simply put, you may not be able to offer them the product or service you offer, but you can offer them 15 minutes that will help them go in the right direction. That 15 minutes could result in them returning when they are a better fit, or in a referral. Or it may just be 15 minutes you got to help someone and you get nothing in return. You won’t ever know unless you give the 15 minutes.
Once you have implemented this additional step in your process, we would recommend leaving anything passively generating inbound leads running. These inbound leads aren’t costing you any additional investment to generate and can result in great clients.
Any marketing initiatives you are running that are requiring additional time and budget should be reviewed to see how it can fit into your ABM initiative.
For example, you have been running google ads based on long-tail keywords that show a higher buyer intent, you can reallocate that budget to start serving ads directly to the decision-makers of your target accounts. This will allow your marketing team to help your company stay front of mind as your sales team engages in conversations with key accounts.
5) Develop a Content Strategy Together
One of the most important aspects of ABM is the content you develop. Your marketing team can develop the most compelling content, but if your sales team doesn’t use the content, your teams won’t achieve the alignment you’re looking for.
Marketing should ask the sales team what content has proven most effective for your sales process.
For example, if you provide software, many decision-makers will want to see the software in action. Your marketing team can create screen-shared videos that walk prospects through a high-level overview of the software so that sales can have a more direct conversation around specific features.
If you provide a specific service or consultation, many decision-makers will likely want to see case studies and success stories from other existing customers like them.
Look at your buyer’s journey and start to map out the content that has been effective for attracting and engaging your existing customers. With an understanding of the content you currently have, you can identify content gaps in your buyer’s journey and start to see how you can further personalize the content you create.
One of the best and most personalized pieces of content is an audit or report. If you can access pertinent information related to your target account, create an audit that outlines the areas they are lacking. Then position yourself as the solution to the problem they are experiencing. When you can show lost revenue and explain how a partnership can increase revenue in specific ways, you will get a sales conversation.
6) Report on the Metrics that Matter
When you implement an ABM program, you aren’t nearly as concerned with the leads generated as you are with engaging specific accounts. So you need to assess what are the metrics that matter most to you as you measure success.
If you are using the same technology across teams, measuring these metrics will become immensely easier as you can pull everything from the same place.
For ABM, revenue is the ultimate measure of success, but revenue is a lag measure. You still need to identify the most influential metrics (or lead measures) that result in increased revenue.
Some examples of metrics that matter are:
- Target Accounts Actively in the Market for your Product (Buyer Intent)
- Target Accounts Engaging with Marketing Materials
- Number of Sales Meetings Scheduled with Target Accounts
- Number of Decision Makers Engaging in A Sales Conversation
- Deals in the Pipeline
- Agreement Out for Signature
- Closed Revenue this Month
- Potential Customers Up for Renewal
After you have identified the metrics that matter, create easily accessible dashboards and reports your marketing and sales teams can see daily. Then start each weekly meeting with these reports so you can have direct conversations about how you can continue to improve these metrics in the future.
Lastly, put some projected targets so people know what is deemed a success.
Start Aligning Your Teams Today
The alignment of your sales and marketing teams starts by aligning your leadership. If you want to ensure you have lasting alignment, get the leaders of both departments together. Agree that you need better communication between marketing and sales.
Then pull both teams together. Explain the plan. Then assess your technology. You need to have everyone on the same page. Running both marketing and sales out of the same CRM will ensure everyone can see and understand their role in increasing revenue.
If you’d like a partner to help you align your marketing and sales teams, audit your technology, or develop an ABM strategy, we have worked with numerous B2B companies to help them achieve success with ABM. Please schedule a call today to get started.
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