If you want to know what’s wrong with marketing and why so much of it fails, look at it from the customer's point of view. Customers are bombarded with generic, automated emails and frustrated by phone calls and voice messages telling them how a seller’s solution will solve all their problems. The problem is that these constant pitches from marketers and salespeople are often impersonal and irrelevant to the customer’s business.
Is it any wonder this type of blind marketing doesn’t work?
Most of the time, it’s just become a nuisance. If a marketer can’t take the time to learn about a customer’s business and craft a personalized outreach, why should the customer be bothered to respond? The days of conducting customer needs analysis (CNA) are long gone. Today, customers expect that you know their business, understand their pain points, and present custom solutions to solve their problems.
This is why so many companies have embraced account based marketing (ABM) to focus marketing and sales efforts on individual companies and decision-makers. By delivering relevant content that resonates, organizations using ABM nurture relationships and demonstrate they understand the business and what it really needs.
Using ABM successfully, however, requires collaboration between marketing and sales activities to power sales orchestration.
You’d think that every organization would have marketing collaboration and marketing alignment with regular meetings between the marketing team and the sales team to discuss marketing strategies to drive customer acquisition. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, just 8% of all companies surveyed believe they have a strong alignment between sales and marketing.
Effective Sales Orchestration Demands Organizational Alignment
If sales reps don't have the marketing materials they need, marketing efforts are going to fall flat. If the marketing department creates a great marketing campaign but the sales department isn’t trained and ready to activate sales efforts, the sales process will suffer.
Eighty-seven percent of senior managers say collaboration and alignment are key to enabling critical business growth. When B2B marketers and salespeople are aligned in their approach, business performance can soar to incredible heights. Companies with tightly aligned team members are more likely to exceed revenue goals. Other benefits include:
- 38% higher win rates (Marketing Profs)
- 36% higher customer retention rates (Marketing Profs)
- 24% faster revenue growth (Sirius Decisions)
- 32% annual revenue growth year-over-year (Aberdeen Group)
If those statistics don’t convince you how important this is, maybe the flipside will. LinkedIn research estimates that marketing sales teams waste an estimated $1 trillion every year due to poor collaboration and coordination.
The Challenges to Alignment
There are a lot of reasons why alignment doesn’t often happen organically. One common reason is that marketing and sales use different platforms and track different metrics.
Marketing might be judging performance based on:
- Marketing pipeline
- Lead quantity
- Lead quality
- Brand awareness
At the same time, sales teams are being evaluated based on:
- Meeting or exceeding sales quotas
- New active accounts
- Deals closed
- Upsell or cross-sell activities
You can see how this can easily be out of sync. The only way to create alignment is to create common goals and then measure them consistently.
When you’re out of sync, it can hurt your efforts. Let’s say you’re setting up a 50-person workshop event and blasting everyone in your database with a generic email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only will many of these emails wind up in spam filters, but most will be ignored. When there’s alignment focusing on key targets, customizing these emails with a personal approach from your sales reps will be more effective and have the potential to grow relationships — particularly where relationships have already been established. It’s not rocket science: we’re all more inclined to open an email from a known sender whose name is familiar to usl.
How Account Based Marketing Creates Sales and Marketing Alignment
ABM requires sales and marketing teams to work closely together. Sales leaders and marketing managers create buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and identify potential customers and target accounts. Content creation, content marketing, and other marketing activities are developed collaboratively to drive prospects through the marketing funnel and customer journey.
The sales cycle starts with the first contact, well before the sales force ever engages directly. When sales reps and marketing teams develop the right tools for their target audience and deliver content that focuses on specific customer pain points, it is more effective.
ABM then personalizes the content to make it even more relevant for individual prospects. Your ABM platform becomes the sales-marketing interface that brings it all together. By tracking performance, it provides a feedback loop so you can make continuous improvements. This closed-loop feedback provides the data to see what’s resonating with your ICPs to help improve your marketing work and sales engagement.
Improving Your Marketing & Sales Alignment
To create better marketing and sales alignment, there are several steps you need to take. At each step, sales and marketing will need to collaborate and work together.
1. Understand Your Buyers
Identify your ideal prospects and high-value prospects to create a shared vision of the types of customers you’re trying to attract. This allows you to drill deeper into their behavior to frame marketing efforts.
2. Agree on Definitions
In a traditional model, marketing focuses on demand generation and lead generation. Once leads become marketing qualified leads (MQLs), they are nurtured until they become sales qualified leads (SQLs), at which point sales reps engage. This can easily lead to misalignment due to the unique viewpoints of marketing and sales.
It’s not unusual for marketing teams to complain that sales reps are ignoring the leads they’re sending. At the same time, sales teams complain that the quality of the leads they’re getting are poor. The obvious problem is that there isn’t alignment on what constitutes a SQL.
In an aligned model, marketing and sales are involved at every phase of the process and agree on definitions.
3. Map the Customer Journey
At each stage of the customer journey, you’ll need content and marketing to nurture and engage your prospects. ABM can automate the personalization at scale and deliver it to the right prospect at the right time, but only if you have the right material ready.
Research from Folloze and The Demand Gen Report showed that just 25% of marketers felt they could successfully drive growth at scale across each phase of the buyer's journey. Marketers must take the time to fully understand and define what’s needed at each stage to be effective.
4. Develop Relevant Content
Once you’ve mapped the customer journey and identified the key triggers that drive prospects from one stage to the next, you need to develop the content. Then, you’ll need to look at how you can leverage that content across channels, including website content, landing pages, email campaigns, blog posts, guest posts, social media, sales one-sheeters, and more.
5. Personalize the Content
It’s not enough to just create great content. You need to personalize it for each prospect to make it effective. Nearly 80% of senior marketers that report exceeding their revenue goals say a documented personalization strategy, such as using an ABM platform, is essential to their success.
Personalization needs to be a foundational element of your marketing and sales strategy. ABM allows you to personalize at scale and activate sales orchestration to drive personalized buyer journeys.
6. Create Content to Close Deals
The majority of marketing efforts are aimed at top-of-the-funnel brand awareness or middle-of-the-funnel nurturing activities. Yet, when there’s an opportunity to close, sales teams can’t wait for marketing to create content.
Marketing teams need to understand what sales reps need in the crucial bottom-of-the-funnel stage, and to produce the content so that it is ready for personalization, such as:
- Case studies
- Customer testimonials
- ROI projections
- Product comparisons
- Social proof
- Product demos
7. Measure Everything
As your prospects interact with your marketing efforts, your best practices must include active measurement. When you can observe how prospects engage, you can sharpen your strategies to improve performance.
Many organizations overlook this key step by measuring performance against department goals rather than common goals. Marketing shouldn’t be judged positively based on the volume of leads, for example, if the leads sales teams get don’t convert.
You’ll need alignment on KPIs to measure success.
8. Use End-to-End Intelligent Sales Orchestration
Create an end-to-end intelligent sales orchestration to personalize campaigns, drive engagement, and produce the insights you need to drive revenue. By creating a closed-loop feedback model, you can track every touchpoint — from activation to conversion.
The right buyer experience platform will be essential for end-to-end sales orchestration. It can help guide you through the marketing and sales process.
- Recognizing and targeting key accounts
- Contextualizing using first- and third-party data and artificial intelligence
- Recommending content based on engagement, behavior, intent, and stage
- Providing account analytics to measure every touchpoint
- Continually refining sales orchestration to improve marketing and sales activities
All of this creates a more targeted and strategic way to approach marketing and sales to produce better results.
Leverage Your Marketing Automation
A robust marketing automation platform for ABM can be your best friend. An easy-to-use platform with powerful data analytics capabilities enables you to empower your sales and marketing teams to work together to reach their common goal.
Combined with the right data and continuous optimization, you can create a feedback loop to continuously optimize your marketing and sales efforts and drive conversions.
Folloze can help facilitate your alignment and accelerate your growth by empowering your sales and marketing teams with the tools they need to drive deeper account engagement. Contact Folloze today to request a demo.