We’ve established that Sales Leaders should invest in Account Based Marketing. By aligning themselves with marketing, salespeople help create a feedback loop of accountability between the two teams that fosters more accurate and efficient pipelines over the long term.
These are heady goals to be sure, but how can sales leaders implement ABM strategy in the day-to-day work of their team? What kind of tactical objectives lay the groundwork for Sales to support Marketing, and vice versa?
Frankly, your sales team doesn’t actually need to drastically alter their fundamental processes to be effective. To win with ABM, salespeople should organize for success, be realistic about account selection, get resourceful in their outreach, and follow their instincts.
Let’s dive into the 4 way Sales and Marketing can team up to get started with ABM right away.
1) Combining Data with Your Gut Instinct
Marketers generally prefer to rely on data to inform their outreach, while salespeople more heavily rely on “going with their gut” to close deals. Implementing sales tactics informed by Account Based Marketing doesn’t require the sales team to give up the experience-lead instincts that make them effective. Rather, ABM allows for the sales team to use their emotional intelligence (EQ) to better move the needle on more accounts, not less.
Here’s how to combine marketing data with sales intuition:
Have your marketing team and sales team sit down together to discuss each team’s vision of an ideal account. Clearly understanding the criteria necessary for a target will help the marketing team compile an informed account list leveraging relevant data during the first phases of an ABM rollout. The sales team should be able to trust marketers’ selection criteria as a result of their initial conversation.
Ultimately, however, each Account Executive should personally decide which accounts to cover. This can be broken down further according to your Sales organization’s firmographic variables, but each salesperson should have the final say in selecting their targets.
Sales leaders can leverage each member of their sales team’s unique strengths by establishing target accounts in this manner. If an AE feels confident that they can sell into a specific vertical, they should be allowed to do so; ditto for the reverse scenario. Given these allowances, AEs will feel responsible and empowered to chase the accounts that they’ve chosen, and sales execs can gather a more accurate sense of how their team is performing, and hold their AEs to a greater standard of accountability.
2) Understanding the Real Players
There’s another way to win deals with Marketing’s help: data-driven ICP selection. Account Based Marketing involves engaging multiple Ideal Customer Profiles during a cycle reduce the time it takes to close, and to increase deal size/ACV. It makes sense that the more people involved and invested in a deal, the more likely it is that the deal will actually materialize. More engaged stakeholders should net more wins.
Marketers can help dig through historical data to provide salespeople with more resources to connect with these decision makers. ABM cuts the fat out of deal cycles, and offers clarity to the sales team on who to target for each deal. Simply put, the marketers expand and inform the sales team’s wins.
Marketers should create multiple ICPs to help Sales identify valuable prospects, but again, a salesperson’s practical experience in the field completes this conversation. There could be several influencers within a given deal, but it’s unlikely that all of these people are actually decision-makers. The purpose of ABM is to streamline a deal, not to complicate it. Therefore, Sales should inform marketing who they see as the most important ICPs in their deals.
3) Account(ability) Plan
The Sales team should follow their instincts, but that doesn’t excuse them from doing the legwork necessary to act confidently on these impulses. The marketing team should be held accountable for the air cover that they provide the sales team by listening to what salespeople say about their data. Likewise, the sales team should be held accountable for how and why a deal moves through their pipeline by writing down a well-reasoned game plan to help close an account.
ABM establishes a framework of accountability and precision to win more business. Requiring an account plan for each deal that passes through Sales is a direct extension of this. Account plans help salespeople take personalized, consultative approaches to each account they interact with, helps sales leaders more accurately forecast revenue, and provides a feedback loop where your sales team can more clearly learn from their successes and failures. ABM helps the sales team help themselves.
If you and your team are selling to Enterprise Accounts, I don’t have to sell you on the benefits of an account plan – that should be self evident. But, for those getting started, here are a few tips to establish an account plan.
- Align all of your salespeople to a specific set of responsibilities for each account. Giving each member (Account Executive, SDR, Marketing Manager, and Executive-level sponsors) of the team a specific function keeps everyone’s expectations aligned and coalesces the group to an account.
- Take time to review each account in motion a few times each quarter. These meetings should focus on the big picture topics that are helping or hindering the progress of closing. Has the internal structure of the buying team shifted? What’s happening in this account’s particular industry? These are the questions you should cover here.
- Arrange weekly stand-ups to better understand the nitty gritty aspects of each account. You should stress test each team member’s reasoning behind their actions. Can you quantify whether you’ve moved the needle in the buying process? If not, how can you iterate on the process moving forward?
Justin Gray of LeadMD comprehensively addresses these tactics in this blog post. If you’re curious to know more, I’d recommend that as a good resource.
4) Leveraging the Right Connection at the Right Time
It should be clear by now that ABM is all about gathering the most important information on a given prospect, so that you can have the most effective interaction with them. ABM platforms like Engagio are great at aggregating this information in a clear and succinct way. Nevertheless, it’s up to the people in your company to actually use this information to help the sales team win deals.
Leveraging different people on your sales team (or in other departments of the company) to help break into a desirable account serves as a direct example of this approach. Salespeople should slow down to understand who’s most connected to a certain influential prospect at a target account, and think through the most effective way to reach out — it produces results. Technology makes this easier than ever. LinkedIn is the quickest and most obvious solution, but there are other tools like the Discoverly Chrome extension or the Nimble Contacts Widget, that will take it a step further and find the strength of connection across many social platforms.
Even if equipped with the most socially adept salesforce, your salespeople can clearly benefit from introductions given from someone who knows a prospect on a personal level. ABM offers a chance for your sales team to settle down and breathe to close more deals.
The Parts are the Whole
All of the tactics I’ve explained above feed off one another to create a well-oiled ABM sales machine. Informing the sales process through ABM produces a snowball effect: when you change the pattern of action for one of these items, organizationally, these tactics begin to fall into place on their own.
The process of implementing ABM doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
The key to winning big deals fast is simple: committing to activating ABM, day by day.