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Aligning ABM Roles and Responsibilities: Sales

April 10, 2019 Mike Rose


One of the main benefits of an account-based marketing program is full organizational alignment, and that means Sales and Marketing working together. Rather than working in silos, the two teams begin to synchronize, enabling each other to perform their best with data-driven insights and a focus on key accounts that help the business reach its primary objectives. To make this happen, we need role and responsibility alignment on each team. In this chapter we start with the Sales team. 


The Ultimate ABM Guide

Common Sales Objections to ABM

You can expect a lot of questions from both Marketing and Sales when you're considering and launching an ABM program. There may be objections from both teams, but understanding the common objections and how to address them is half the battle.

Two of the most common objections by Sales to account-based marketing program implementation are:

  1. What happens to leads already in the funnel?
  2. There will be too few leads to hit our pipeline and revenue goals.

Let’s discuss.

What happens to leads already in the funnel?

At first glance, it is easy to mistake ABM as a total shift in Sales attention where the only focus is the target accounts chosen by Sales and Marketing.

This is because Sales understands ABM is a high-touch program involving careful and conscious efforts to win target accounts above all else.

Truth be told, account-based marketing is not a complete shift in business, rather it is a strategic shift of designated Sales resources to selected accounts. These accounts are most likely to engage with your business to help it reach its business objectives such as increased average contract value and closed revenue.

Leads in the funnel will still be addressed, however, the caliber of effort they receive will be adjusted. The leads in the funnel will receive more reactive sales interactions than the ABM target accounts which will receive proactive sales interactions.

There will be too few leads to hit our pipeline and revenue goals.

An understandable reaction. ABM does tend to vastly trim the fat from the quantity of leads Sales receives.

The quality of leads, while fewer, will increase accordingly. No more wasted time on accounts unlikely to close; ABM target accounts tend to become upsell opportunities and engage in proactive advocacy of your business.

Additionally, ABM target accounts will most often have a higher contract value, enabling Sales to close more revenue with fewer accounts than less revenue with a larger number of flopped leads.

How Does Account-Based Marketing Benefit Sales?

When addressing these objections to ABM implementation, be prepared to promote the positive changes account-based marketing brings to the table. The major benefits of an ABM program for Sales include:

  • Collaboration instead of conflict with marketing
  • Account quality over lead quantity
  • Efficiency
  • Proactivity
  • Intelligent insights
  • Achievement of 3 business objectives: increased contract size, closed revenue, pipeline velocity

Collaboration Instead of Conflict with Marketing

As mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, Sales and Marketing are the age-old business opposites who do not speak the same language, care about different results, and seldom ever see eye-to-eye. That changes with ABM.

Let's put this on repeat: The key to ABM success is full organizational alignment, and that means Sales and Marketing working in tandem.

Collaboration is the answer to navigating the choppy waters of transition. As the two departments begin to speak the same language, work towards the same goals, and have the same definition of success for ABM, collaboration will happen more naturally, and when we discuss roles and responsibilities this will become much clearer.

Account Quality Over Lead Quantity

Sales can be inundated with fruitless leads sometimes, and it might not always be apparent. While Sales is at its core a numbers game, the prioritization of numbers shifts with an ABM program.

This means that rather than seeking a large number of leads (quantity) the focus becomes the strategically chosen accounts (quality) .

It may take some adjusting of territories and reallocation of responsibilities within Sales to ensure target account efforts are adequate and proactive, but the ability to hone in on high-value accounts that could become upsell opportunities in the future makes life much easier for Sales.

After all, it’s easier to keep current accounts and customers than to find new ones!

Efficiency, Proactivity, and Intelligent Insights

These three benefits go hand-in-hand. With proactive engagement on the part of Sales to provide Marketing with intelligent insights about target accounts, Sales increases its own efficiency regarding the selling process and the ability it gives Marketing to best enable Sales success. Let’s explain a little further.

Sales is the main point of interaction with target accounts and leads within the business. Therefore, they are the front line receiving actionable insights into what accounts seek from your business. This enables both Sales and Marketing to proactively create strategies that best engage target accounts. As such, Sales efficiency improves because there is less wasted time on lackluster leads with low dollar values and more proactive engagement with target accounts that have the highest likelihood of closing.

As all the benefits of an ABM program for Sales become clear, it is also easy to see just how this impacts the ability of the business to reach its three key business objectives: increased contract size, closed revenue, and pipeline velocity.

Sales Roles and Responsibilities

The ability to achieve the three primary business objectives and reap the benefits of an account-based marketing program in your organization is only as realistic as the alignment of roles and responsibilities to Sales and Marketing. In terms of the Sales team, they will be responsible for the following:

  • Set expectations and accountability with leadership 
    Be realistic with leadership when it comes to roles and responsibilities within Sales and the capacity of Sales to take on an ABM program.

  • Help with target account selection + define prospects 
    Sales is the front line for target account interaction, so providing these insights to help Marketing iterate and scale the ABM target account list alongside the Sales team is a must!

  • Give sales cycle insights to the ABM team 
    Coming back to the technicalities of Sales for a moment, sales cycle length is crucial for the ABM team to understand. This allows them to best enable Sales with the right materials to reach the right accounts at the right time.

  • Rework inbound and outbound teams to address ABM 
    The current territory structure might not work with ABM implementation. Ensure your Sales team takes the time to reconfigure territories and account delegation based on capacity and abilities of the different Sales team members.

  • Close, retain, and upsell accounts 
    This comes as no surprise, but it still falls on Sales to close the accounts, retain them as customers, and upsell when possible.

  • Engage target accounts 
    Using personalization and actionable insights, Sales will engage in high-touch selling efforts for AE top accounts including:
    • Use of strategic sales enablement tools provided by marketing
    • A combination of VIP dinners and field marketing at tradeshows
    • Personalized follow-ups (meetings, emails, phone calls, etc)

With Sales taking the reins on the above roles and responsibilities, collaboration with Marketing, Operations, and other departments across the organization becomes a much more fluid process.

Bridging the Gap for Sales and Marketing ... 

A strong account-based marketing program makes collaboration between Sales and Marketing, in particular, a no brainer. The teams come together and align on roles and responsibilities that result in Sales having less wasted time on lackluster leads, greater account success predictability, visibility into marketing impact, increasingly focused pipeline generation, and improved efficiency. Account-based marketing programs enable Sales to create greater results that achieve business objectives without unnecessary fluff.

The Ultimate ABM Guide

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Mike Rose

Mike Rose

A scientist by training, speaker, author and entrepreneur by drive, Michael brings a level of business acumen to marketing strategy that is rare in the emerging online marketing space. Michael’s strong knowledge and understanding of business challenges, as well as marketing best practices has evolved to him authoring and speaking on a new and innovative game-changing approach to business entitled ROE Powers ROI – The ultimate Way to think and communicate for ridiculous results. The Return on Energy® methodology is the secret sauce behind Mojo’s success and that of our clients.

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