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How To Align Sales and Marketing Teams for ABM Success

How To Align Sales and Marketing Teams for ABM Success

ABM is a game-changer for companies whose marketing and sales groups approach it as a tag-team. Seize the chance to make sure your SMB is one of them.

Account-based marketing has become a popular strategy within many companies because it’s a highly effective way of prioritizing your most important customers and deepening your relationship with them. Before that happens, though, there’s another relationship that needs to be addressed first.

Sales teams work hard. So do marketing teams. Ideally, the work they do should be in lock-step, where the interest and demand generated by marketing campaigns helps sales reps accelerate their journey to closing more deals. That’s not how it plays out in many organizations, unfortunately.

Even within Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), there can be situations where sales and marketing are anything but aligned. Sales reps might ignore the leads produced through marketing, for instance. Marketers, meanwhile, might be focusing on products or customer segments that aren’t top of mind for the sales team.

Account-based marketing (ABM) represents an opportunity to change all that for the better. That’s because ABM is a methodology that has both groups agree upon a target list of top accounts. These become the basis of campaigns in which leads are nurtured through highly personalized content, helping them become more confident and prepared to make a purchase or sign a contract.

When it’s done right, ABM brings an increased focus and rigor to the way a company connects and provides value to its most important customer segment, treating them like the VIPs they are. That’s why it has gained so much traction within businesses. According to the eighth edition of Salesforce’s State of Marketing report, for instance, 89% of business to business (B2B) brands and even those whose end customers sell to consumers are using ABM platforms.

Sales and marketing alignment is a perquisite to ABM campaigns because success depends on both groups working in a coordinated, consistent fashion. That’s the only way to ensure the targeted accounts get the kind of relevant, contextualized content and engagement they deserve.

In a sense, the decision to pursue ABM could be the perfect catalyst for addressing long-standing issues between marketing and sales teams. Gain alignment now, in other words, and it can benefit your business whether you’re working on an ABM campaign or not.

1. Begin the ABM education process with sales early on

Some reps and managers in your company may already be familiar with ABM, but it would be new territory for others. In both cases, they might still have some resistance to ABM because they’ve heard it requires greater effort or a more complex process for nurturing leads and prospects.

Approach the sales team with an invitation to fully understand the ABM opportunity. This is your opportunity to make something akin to an “elevator pitch,” where you walk through all the benefits of ABM and what it could mean for the company’s ability to accomplish key objectives in terms of growth.

It’s not always easy to “sell” something to sales people, of course, so make sure the meeting is a true dialogue, where you answer questions in detail and with honesty. Gain support to approach ABM as a united front at the outset.

2. Break down silos to make ABM a collaborative effort

Even if you get buy-in for an ABM campaign from your sales team, you still need to make sure they don’t go off into their own corner while the marketing team retreats into theirs. Working in silos can lead to miscommunication, errors and longer time to complete key projects and processes.

Instead, discuss with the sales team how often you should connect on an ABM campaign based on all the tasks that both departments will need to do and areas that require ongoing conversations. Some of these tasks include:

  • Defining the ideal customer profile (ICP) and agreeing on the target list of accounts

  • Developing any value propositions around the offering being promoted

  • Selection of key channels to engage target accounts

  • Brainstorming on content that will nurture target accounts in stages

  • Hand-offs between marketing and sales to get deals closed

This doesn’t mean marketing and sales have to be sitting down in person all the time. Make use of tools like Slack, where you could set up a dedicated channel to stay in touch around an ABM campaign and any details that require action or follow-up.

3. Agree upon shared ABM metrics and KPIs

Like any partnership, sales and marketing teams will only get where they need to with ABM if they can track their progress.

This can require looking beyond the typical ways these departments assess their success. For marketers, the volume of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) may not matter as much as how well their work on an ABM campaign leads directly to revenue generation.

For sales, the result of ABM might be measured based on how it helps them in areas such as their sales velocity, win rate, influenced pipeline and churn, among others.

Make analyzing these metrics and optimizing your ABM campaigns based on what they tell you the focal point of your regular check-ins with sales. It will build greater credibility for the initiative as a whole and help develop a shared understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Have a unified view of ABM data

One final thought to bear in mind: ABM campaigns can become rich with data about your customer’s behaviour, from the content that drives engagement to the way they choose to interact with the sales team.

The best way to derive value from all that data is to work off a single platform, like Customer 360, which provides a single view of the truth. This not only applies to ABM campaigns specifically, but to all the work marketers and sales reps do every day.

ABM is a game-changer for companies whose marketing and sales groups approach it as a tag-team. Seize the chance to make sure your SMB is one of them.

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