Throughout the years, I've seen it over and over again how the ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing can cause missed opportunities, organizational pain and wasted energy. While there certainly are fundamental strategies and approaches that apply generally, the tactics, can and should look very different.
Enter Account-Based Marketing.
ABM is a set of B2B strategies that guides sales and marketing in aligning their efforts and developing long-term relationships with prospective customers. It helps marketers and salespeople see that they should no longer be pursuing leads, but rather accounts and their potential deal size. Instead of targeting organizations based on their annual revenue, or by number of employees, focusing on deal size is what can actually make the biggest impact on marketing strategy.
When pursuing enterprises with larger deal-sizes for example, teams should adjust their focus from selling into personas, but rather tailor their efforts to specific decision makers, who oftentimes, make up an entire buying committee. But imagine trying to satisfy the requirements of 15 or more people on a single buying decision?
This obviously adds a level of complexity with more moving parts. The larger the deal size, the more complex the process of convincing, identifying, and working with the buying committee will be. Often times there are hidden partners and influencers that weigh in with their strong opinions and organizational politics could also be involved. And depending on that deal size, customer acquisition times can vary drastically – from days at the low end, to sometimes even greater than 12-months for clients with seven-figure deals.
It’s true – selling to the group changes everything.
Below we take a look at various strategies for selling to enterprise buying committees, with the ultimate goal of rendering your product or service a ‘need to have’ – rather than a ‘nice to have.’
You may not always have the data on which individuals on the buying committee you are targeting, but you should be able to get close enough to build a relevant audience. Develop your marketing content around the 20 or so individuals who are the likely influencers at the target enterprise company. That’s the best way to ensure you capture the attention of the key decision makers and influencers.
Business intelligence tools are immensely valuable, as the more you know about the various players at the account level, the easier it is to craft relevant messaging to them. At Folloze we use tools like DiscoverOrg, LinkedIn SalesNavigator just to name a couple. ABM can mean designing a webinar aimed at a single enterprise and leveraging intel gathered using BI platforms to work to get a dozen people from that organization’s buying committee to attend.
Often times when selling into enterprises with larger deal-size price points, you need to enlist the help of others and essentially create your own ‘selling committee.’ You absolutely need a seasoned team of professional sales development representatives (SDRs) and account executives (AEs) to ensure demos lead to closed/won deals. And if your product is highly technical, you’ll also need sales engineers on hand to help answer all the difficult technical questions that are sure to arise. It is wise to assign an executive sponsor from your management team to have a dialog with the C-level counterpart from the account to help move the deal along and establish a senior level relationship.
Due to the financial commitment that is being considered, enterprise purchasing groups are likely nervous about the costs, and price points, they need to justify the investment by doing their due diligence. This is where you will need the to work with your marketing team to develop a strong analyst relations strategy. Through a regular cadence of inquiries, briefings, email and social communication (as well as a strong product), companies can stay top of mind and be verbally shortlisted by analysts to prospects looking for a solution like yours. Additionally, performing well in analyst reports lays the groundwork for closing large deals by building trust and claiming mindshare. With the research already done, and by a third party, it’s a simple as providing each member of the committee with a link to the report to help justify their decision.
Without question, selling to large enterprises with purchasing committees flips the script on traditional selling. By learning to exhibit patience and tenacity, and by following some of the tactics outlined above, sales and marketing executives can help alleviate the purchasing fears of buying committee members and help them see your product as a ‘need to have.’ Better yet, the experience should aim to inspire stakeholders in the buying process.