The Death of the Decision-Maker: How Account-Based Marketing Enables the Consensus Sale

According to the latest research published by CEB, 5.4 people have to formally authorize each purchase, complicating sales and marketing for the seller. The research disclosed that sales reps today rarely find a unilateral decision-maker, and many of the organization’s stakeholders have veto power over the purchase decision.

Source: CEB

Sellers must employ effective techniques to create accord among all buyer participants to seal a deal. This is way beyond simple lead generation or nurturing—a broader approach is critical. Sales and marketing must develop robust communication methods to be able to convey complex messages to a set of interested parties—who have different needs and agendas—and guide them towards a common purchase decision.

Enter Account-Based Marketing (ABM). ABM is structured approach for navigating a complex purchase funnel and an array of stakeholders, engaging and convincing all of them to reach a purchase conclusion in common.

Align sales and marketing around target accounts

Enabling consensus among such diverse parties is an expensive and resource-heavy task for the selling and marketing teams. Laser focus on which accounts to target for sales is crucial. Structuring sales-marketing alignments around the target account list is the key for success and return on investment.

Once you’ve concurred on the identity of your target accounts, develop agreement on the scale of marketing, time, energy and budget to be earmarked for those targets. Once that agreement is reached—and not before—discuss different marketing tactics.

While many marketing tactics work well for ABM, there’s no rule of thumb on what works and what doesn’t. Try and test methods as much as possible. It’s vital.

Embrace but be wary of personalization

According to the same CEBresearch, purchases from a vendor who tailors contents to a specific buyer’s needs are 40% more likely to happen. “Better tailoring of content” was identified as a priority by 95% of CMOs in facilitating a purchase.

Obviously, personalized content is crucial if you want to connect and resonate with stakeholders. There’s a fine line, however, in tailoring messages to the needs of each participant. Allow for message crossover and commonality. Demonstrate the stakeholder benefit but illuminate the greater company good.

Data is crucial. Marketing professionals and sales development reps (SDRs) are far more effective in the sales arena armed with robust account data and relevant messages. When marketers know the needs of each stakeholder, they can shower him or her with germane messages. Similarly with SDRs, when they know the account’s challenges, technologies and players, their conversations are more personal, cogent and, of course, successful.

Identify intent early

According to CEB, 37% of the purchase process is over by the time a customer defines the solution they need, and 57% is done by the time they engage with sales reps. Failure to identify intent and proactively engage with buyers early may mean you’re too late.

Engaging buyers early facilitates consensus because they have yet to form the opinion, which you help them shape. But how do you reach stakeholders early?

This is where technology comes in. Intent indicators, derived from company-level, web-traffic data analysis, reveal whether someone from the company is involved in researching a new product or service. Machine learning scrutinizes web-visit data from an account over time to ascertain whether the account is researching a new solution right now.

Using intent indicators to hone in on your ABM is a game changer, enabling you to proactively send the right content, emails and campaigns to people who are probably researching your competitors as we speak.

Conclusion

Companies today require 5.4 people to undertake each purchase decision. Consequently, sales reps must foster consensus to drive the sale. ABM is about engaging accounts via several stakeholders to get them to rally around one, unanimous purchase decision.

Invaluable for companies with a complex purchase funnel or a decision process that involves several stakeholders, ABM combines the alignment of marketing and sales with the application of data and research to pave your way to success.

About the Author

Dr. Jacob Shama is the CEO and co-founder of Mintigo. He brings more than 20 years of executive experience in the fields of Information Technology and Communications. Prior to Mintigo Jacob was Vice President of Products and Vice President of Operations at modu mobile, the modular mobile handset company. His previous experience includes various managerial and leading research positions. He received his Doctorial D.Sc. degree from George Washington University, Washington DC, and both his M.Sc. and B.Sc. with honors from Tel-Aviv University. Dr. Shama specializes in communications, signal processing, data analysis and processing, algorithm research and patterns recognition. Read Jacob’s blog at CustomerIntelligence360.com.