An Intro to Account Based Marketing: Part 2

Smarketing – How to Align Sales and Marketing

In our last article, we discussed the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as perhaps the premiere strategy for modern business. With its unique ability to increase efficiency and bolster ROI, more and more businesses have begun to gravitate to ABM as their preferred outbound marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which sales and marketing teams must interface in order for an ABM strategy to be a success. We’ll also touch on how to align those teams for maximum impact.

Let’s go.

Locking In On a Target

Traditional Strategy: In the past, sales teams targeted specific accounts and marketing focused on leads. That meant two fairly autonomous entities working on the same general goal, rather than focused collaborative efforts on a specific, defined target.

ABM Strategy: With an ABM strategy, sales and marketing teams work together from the jump. They do this by identifying a list of target accounts and centering their efforts around those targets.

Standards of Success

Traditional Strategy: We’ve been defining our success in the wrong ways. Marketing teams have traditionally relied on vanity metrics to prove their worth while sales teams have pointed mostly to closed revenue. While sales numbers and engagements are certainly indicative of activity, they can often fail to reflect big pictures realities.

ABM Strategy: ABM identifies this problem — vanity metrics and sales as the “end all, be all” barometer of success — and allows your team to address it. Rather than judging a campaign by these traditional benchmarks, an ABM approach encourages your team to come together and define their own goals. While sales numbers and engagements may be included in these goals, an ABM campaign tends to have a broader vision of success, for instance securing a set of small accounts that may provide crucial references to secure a big account in the future.

Campaign Management

Traditional Strategy: The traditional approach to campaigns has always been pretty simple — marketing conceptualizes and launches a campaign, sales gets a list of contacts to follow up with, and the beat goes on — two separate entities independently chipping away at the same general goal, interacting only in the handoff of leads.

ABM Strategy: In the same way an ABM strategy sees sales and marketing working together to identify goals and target accounts, ABM also sees a collaborative approach to campaign development to create multi-touch, hyper-targeted campaigns.

How To Align Your Team

If we haven’t already made it obvious, the success of an ABM marketing strategy is rooted firmly in the alignment and collaboration of sales and marketing teams. With such intense focus on a relatively small pool of prospects, any slip in messaging/communication/strategy could result in the loss of a large percentage of projected sales.

The first step to aligning your team is the initial set of discussions. Start by clearly defining the responsibilities of each team and team member. By identifying these roles for the get-go, it’s easier to ensure accountability, as well as identify priorities and assign tasks.

The next step is to spark a collaborative environment. It’s important to ensure that everyone understands their role as a part of one unit working in harmony, rather than as independent entities doing their job and handing it off to the next person. Think of it as an engine, rather than an assembly line. Have open conversations, encourage constant communication and foster that culture of collaboration.

The final step is to share the results of ABM campaigns openly — including failures — and encouraging constructive dialogue around them. Find out what worked and what didn’t. Examine both successes and shortcomings against the metrics your team has come up with. You may find that the problem is not with your strategy, but rather your goals. This is the type of information that will grow campaigns in the future.

At the end of the day, this is the golden rule: Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Align, align, align.

If nothing else, we hope you leave this article with those two words as the primary focus of your ABM strategy.

Remember: getting the ball rolling is only half the battle. Once you’ve developed a collaborative environment and aligned your teams, you must sustain it. Encourage constant conversation, communication and dialogue between your sales and marketing teams. Once this level of cooperation becomes a habit, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the foundation your teams rely on to get results.

Looking to become an ABM master? Check back every week for more ABM topics, including how to identify high-value accounts, tips for how to map individuals to accounts, info on collecting better data, best practices for defining targets, creating targeted campaigns, executing those campaigns, and much more.

Ready to start your ABM program? Contact us to see what we can do for you.

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