All it takes is one really great sale to show how better life can be with account-based marketing.
Think of the last deal that closed with a company that really “got it.” This is an organization that recognized the power of what your firm was offering, made a decision in a reasonable timeframe and not only paid promptly but added on some additional products and services based on your suggestions. This is what, in an account-based marketing plan, is described as your ideal customer profile (ICP), and for obvious reasons you should want as many of them as possible.
Of course, ICPs may never represent the bulk of the B2B companies you target. Managing and growing your share of wallet with ICPs using tools such as Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, however, will give you much more time to discover, nurture and close deals with all those other clients.
Don’t be put off by the perceived complexity of account-based marketing best practices. If you’re experienced in B2B sales and marketing, you can do this.
In traditional B2B marketing, every lead who downloads a white paper or tunes into a webinar is assigned a score based on their job title or other factors. Unfortunately, many of the leads who don’t score high enough get ignored. Scoring by accounts means you look at the bigger picture to understand how buying decisions are actually getting made.
Let’s say you target CFOs, for example, but the main activity you’re seeing is coming from leads in less senior finance roles. Individually, those leads may seem insignificant, but if the five people closest to that company’s CFO are reading your white paper, you may have an account that winds up being in your coveted ICP category.
Account scoring may also help salvage an opportunity when you’re seeing leads come from within a department you don’t specifically target, such as IT. If the IT department is doing some preliminary research based on the CFO’s request, for instance, you’ll know it’s an account worth pursuing.
“But we gave you good leads!” the marketing team might cry, but B2B sales teams might respond with a shrug. Sure, a particular account may look interesting, but they don’t necessarily feel any urgency in connecting with the account team because they’re unsure about the best approach.
Marketing orchestration, as it’s called, means that you can take ICPs and deliver just the right content at just the right time to inspire more activity. This is a sample of how sales could follow up more effectively:
Send an ebook with comprehensive information on how adopting certain products or services contributes to growth, right after an account has shown interest with several team members clicking through an email message back to your blog post.
Collaborate with marketing teams on a pricing comparison sheet after account members watch an on-demand webinar.
Pull together all your case studies and testimonials for a particular sector after the account’s social media feed shows the firm is pursuing a new vertical market.
Account-based marketing tactics work best when they’re done by sales and marketing teams working more closely together. That should be one of the ways you measure success, even before more deals begin closing.
If B2B sales teams had one wish, it’s probably that customers would hurry up and make a buying decision just a little faster. Account-based marketing can’t make them rush, but it can make managing the process a lot easier.
When you have a deep understanding of a particular account’s buying cycle, such as the steps involved and the people who need to facilitate things like budget approvals, you can treat each ICP with its own sales and marketing strategy.
Rather than send them generic email updates, for instance, you could shoot a custom video that summarizes all the essential information they need and send it at the exact moment they tend to upgrade or request new products and services. Sales teams will be scheduled to reach out with full knowledge of what content has been sent and consumed, rather than reaching out blindly because they happen to have a spare minute.
An ICP isn’t just someone who buys often and with a smile. It’s a customer that is willing to consider a cross-sell or upsell opportunity — provided you pitch in a personalized manner. For instance, account-based marketing can help answer:
Who within the account should we send this infographic to build awareness about the cross-sell/upsell opportunity?
Who within the account will want to read the ROI study we conducted?
Who within the account will be willing to test-drive a free trial of the cross-sell/upsell opportunity?
Add “and when” to each of these questions and you’ll begin to see why they call it marketing orchestration — everything between sales and marketing is finally working in concert.
Is it really possible that taking a client out golfing will lead to a deal worth thousands or even millions of dollars? Of course not — unless you use account-based marketing to assess your results.
A golf game, for instance, could be an example of field marketing, where one key influencer in an account relays information to someone else on the account with the authority to green-light a deal, or at least assemble the team for a more comprehensive pitch by your sales rep.
This minutia is typically lost once deals close, because it’s not really tracked. Account-based marketing allows you to look at everything from what emails were sent to what meetings came out of a trade show appearance, what was downloaded from the web site and who called whom within a particular account.
Even if you’re a company primarily known for offering B2B e-commerce as a way of making purchases, you can use account-based marketing to map out how complex deals really work, and then fine-tune your methods to secure more of them.
If you ease your way into account-based marketing, you’ll soon be able to make your marketing dollars work a lot harder — and have your sales team look even smarter.