Marketers are excited about the new wave of marketing strategy breaking on the horizon: Account Based Marketing. They’ve read up on ABM, heard success stories from friends and colleagues, and are itching for the budget to gleam more data to apply to their newest campaigns.
Sales leaders: if your Marketing department is seriously considering adopting ABM, embrace their enthusiasm. Salespeople may want to roll their eyes, but risk leaving a serious opportunity on the boardroom table if they do.
Why is ABM different than other marketing strategies? Because it relies on the orchestrated efforts of Marketing and Sales teams alike. How can each team effectively orchestrate their activities? By implementing a system of accountability that attaches the two departments at the hip.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Brandon Redlinger, the Director of Growth at Engagio, accurately boils down the essence of ABM in a recent blog post:
“If there was one golden rule to ensure success with Account Based Marketing, it would be this: Silos don’t work”
Marketing and Sales teams that work in isolation from one another can quickly lead to frustration and finger-pointing amongst the groups, especially if sales velocity slows. This revelation isn’t new, but sales and marketing teams still have trouble communicating and working together in practice. Why is this? Often, it has to do with how you measure each teams’ performance.
Clearly, salespeople are held to a dollar figure for performance and comp, but what about marketing? Matt Heinz encapsulates this question best:
“To change [marketers’] objectives, change their compensation. If the sales team at the end of the month and the end of the quarter is grinding it out to hit their number but the marketing team’s at the bar celebrating because they hit their retweet goal, then something’s misaligned.”
Marketers and Salespeople operate in different areas of your pipeline, but work to accomplish the same goal of driving revenue. If both departments attend to the same responsibility, it follows that they should be compensated in a similar manner. This organizational shift drives the accountability structure needed to form a cohesive, orchestrated unit between the two teams.
Experience Driven Salespeople, Data-Driven Marketers: A Feedback Loop
Ironically, exploring the business stereotypes of marketers and salespeople cultivates a workplace environment ripe for effective ABM implementation. Again, Brandon’s article holds a wealth of useful information, especially from a sales perspective. Brandon notes,
“At the outset of an Account Based Everything program, developing the right criteria for your target accounts is paramount. This is an ideal test of the current state of your Sales and Marketing alignment, as it dictates whether your teams are on the same page.”
Developing the right criteria depends on each department defining their Ideal Customer Profile. Experientially, no team can hold a candle to the Sales team in regards to this initiative. Marketers should gather as much data as possible to hone in on who to target to accelerate deals, but also must take the Sales team’s observations from the field into account when modeling ICPs. Data can be useful, but also deceiving — without the feedback of salespeople, data becomes a dynamic force in increasing marketing effectiveness, and informing sales strategy. Effectively orchestrated ABM fosters this feedback loop through continuous accountability.
The Results of Alignment and Accountability: Pipeline Acceleration and Accuracy
There are myriad reasons why Account Based Marketing will shape the future of Marketing and Sales outreach — scores of tactical elements underline the overall approach, and each can be covered in depth (check out this article on Lead Handoffs, for example) in their own right. From a strategy perspective, however, ABM can be broken down simply:
ABM increases overall account visibility and orchestration amongst the sales and marketing teams. Cohesion between these groups creates an environment of accountability that helps them more accurately predict what’s happening in the sales pipeline. Forecasting becomes easier for your sales team as a result. Accurate forecasting precedes closing. More visibility means more insight into how sales and marketing can move the needle at key accounts, accelerating the time it takes to close deals.
Salespeople, get cozy with your marketing department’s Account Based Marketing initiatives: you’ll be glad you did at the end of the quarter.