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Why ABM is the Peacemaker between Marketing and Sales

David Brutman
,
September 27, 2016

In companies that sell to large accounts, marketing typically sources only up to 10% of sales leads. It’s no wonder their relationship with sales is often referred to as misalignment, sibling rivalry, or even all-out war. The good news: it’s not too late to fix this.

And how content is the secret agent in this game

Let’s look at these two scenarios you probably know all too well.

The “Don’t Touch My Accounts” Scenario

Sally, our field sales rep at ABC Company, is the account executive of Acme Corp. She owns the relationship with that account and is currently discussing expansion opportunities. Sally is asking her marketing team not to market to this specific account, so that she can control the flow of information to her account and move the deal at the right pace. Her marketing team is upset by this request - they don’t understand why Acme Corp executives wouldn’t want to see the latest and greatest content at this time. Well, perhaps Sally is very close to selling on-premise video conferencing solutions to Acme Corp, and messages from marketing suggest Acme Corp explores newer cloud options. This could throw her deal off– indefinitely.

The “You’re Not Following Up on My Leads” Scenario

On the other hand, Mark, our marketing guy just wrapped up a successful webinar with large attendance numbers. All leads are scored accordingly and the post-webinar emails are all set to go out later that day. He’s sending a report to his sales team with all the attending names. A week goes by, and he finds out that only a handful of people were contacted or followed up with by sales. In fact, 40-80% of sales leads are actually never followed up with by salespeople (thanks Andy for the video), and that’s a clear sign of misalignment.

Sound Familiar? So What Are Sally and Mark To Do?

Most solutions offered by experts to bridge the gap between marketing and sales are process-based. See this example, from Hubspot, that offers some warm fuzzies, or this post by Act-On, that takes the more traditional approach of “agree on what a lead is” and continue from there. How successful are those change management tactics? Questionable, at best, based on the number of words that are still written on the subject.

The recent account-based approach is also heavily dependent on cooperation and coordination between marketing and sales. The selection of target accounts and the engagement planning process are done together, then each team focuses on the tasks in its skill set and tool set. So why would it succeed in aligning marketing and sales where others failed? Let’s break down the two examples above and examine what changes in an account-based everything scenario.

From “Don’t Touch My Accounts” to “Help Me Deliver Value to My Accounts”

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Once ABC Company decided to take the account-based approach, Sally and Mark had to decide together on a target list of accounts. In this process, they decided that Acme Corp is a Tier 1 account, based on the expected lifetime value of that account and their existing relationship with it. However, Sally is having a hard time engaging with her contacts in that account. She feels she doesn’t show them enough value and needs to strengthen her position as a trusted advisor to Acme Corp. She realizes “value” and “advice” come in the form of content - thought leadership papers, videos, case studies, etc., usually provided by Mark, her marketing liaison.

Mark understands that Acme Corp, being a Tier 1 account, is already fully mapped and all of its available contacts are known. So Mark’s role in this account should be to help Sally land and expand in Acme Corp, and not to attract more leads as a traditional demand generation scenario would suggest. As such, Mark focuses on making it continuously easy for Sally to deliver the right content to Acme Corp, and each of her other accounts.

From “You’re Not Following Up” to “Here’s How You Could Follow Up”

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As it turns out, Sally has 100 accounts she needs to engage with, and each is different. Mark decides to create templates, full of content, for Sally to share based on account, persona, vertical or other.

These templates make it easy for Sally to distribute personalized information with her accounts. Kind of like giving Sally the power to do marketing on her own. In addition, these templates contain a tracking device that captures all user actions; helping Sally to deliver (and track) more value with each account, quickly.

Bottom line: Sally’s new power tool from Mark can help skyrocket sales results with accounts.

Takeaway: 4-6x Better Results

Here’s real data where targeted messages (i.e. Sally’s accounts) produced heightened engagement. Notice that tailoring content templates by vertical increased CTAs well above the industry average. Moreover, this tactical video shows how sales and marketing teams at Xirrus Wi-Fi took on the process of aligning their efforts.

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It really is that simple. When sales and marketing teams speak the same language, and use their specialized skill set toward the same goal, the results are clearly better.

We’re happily scheduling lunch and learns with people who are interested. We bring the food and presentation; you bring the appetite. See more, and pick a time here.

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