For years, sales and marketing have been on parallel paths, rarely intersecting. Too often, there’s even been a good deal of mistrust between the two. Now, more than ever, all this needs to change. Consider these common symptoms of the problem:

  • Marketing is hitting its goals, while sales revenue goals are being missed
  • Controversy and/or lack of clarity exists over who owns portions of the demand funnel
  • Customers are churning at a high rate due to poor product or customer fit

Any of this sound familiar? Misalignment of goals and philosophies between sales and marketing can not only cause some of these symptoms, it can also create a toxic environment that leads to high employee turnover and even business failure.

Many companies are now looking to an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to bring sales and marketing together and solve these problems. It’s still a challenging task, but ABM can help these two teams come together and establish a new, more efficient working relationship between sales and marketing. The following are a couple of key components to getting sales and marketing on the same page.

To be honest, many sales organizations don’t know that much about ABM. Essentially, ABM shifts the focus from a broad base of customers or a generic persona-based approach to a more targeted effort aimed at a specific list of accounts. Depending on your business goals, that list can include a few dozen key accounts, a few hundred companies in a given industry or category, or a couple thousand likely-to-buy businesses that resemble your best customers (in terms of employees, revenue, industry, and so on). In ABM, marketing creates content and campaigns aimed at specific accounts or segments of accounts that sales has helped identify and essentially prequalified.

Part of the reason that sales isn’t as clued in to ABM yet is the fact that most of the primary constituents and mandates for it lie on the marketing side. But ABM cannot be successful just in the marketing department. You have to be able to connect a campaign all the way through sales; the whole point is for the results being delivered by marketing to be actionable and handed off to sales.

A major disconnect between the two groups lies in the digital activity at the account level. Sales traditionally wants marketing to deliver qualified leads. But given an evolving and complex buyer’s journey that is increasingly online and often involves multiple stakeholders, marketing can only really be asked to focus on generating interest and engagement. Often, sales simply isn’t prepared to take on ABM in the form of digital activity. With more technology and tools available to track and measure engagement, marketing can help sales know which accounts are engaging, and how best they can insert themselves. But it all starts with the understanding of how each group can work together to establish targets, and then jointly move them through the journey.

Even though many sales organizations may grapple with the move to ABM, there’s one team that most likely will be open to it: Inside Sales. They’re hungry and willing to take and cultivate the interest generated by marketing. Inside sales reps know that most of the leads they receive are, in fact, not worth their while. ABM changes that.

It’s exciting for them to see an account showing interest in a local sales territory. But maybe that isn’t the level of interest where AEs with 15 years of experience are willing to invest their time. For now, it’s primarily the inside reps doing the core work with ABM. However, this won’t be for long.

If we project five or 10 years out, those same inside sales reps will have advanced in their career. These future AEs will know the value of marketing in a modern way. ABM will be much more effective and endemic in not only the culture, but also influential in how sales and marketing work together. It’s only a matter of time.

With more technology and tools available to track and measure engagement, marketing can help sales know which accounts are engaging, and how best they can insert themselves.”

Gabe Rogol | Senior Vice President of Sales, Demandbase
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