Attention all B2B executives and managers! Can we take a moment to be honest with ourselves? How aligned is your current marketing strategy for targeting your top accounts? Does the marketing collateral and messaging match how sales is doing their prospecting?
Here is an even scarier question:
Are sales and marketing using the same platform? If not, are they at least integrated so data can be shared?
Depending on how you answered some of those questions you might be concerned. Don't worry—you're not alone.
A lot of B2B companies don't have a strong account-based marketing strategy. You might even be one of the many companies that still use traditional or inbound marketing strategies to segment and target your accounts. An account-based marketing strategy focuses all of their resources, budget and campaigns against a very specific list of target accounts to directly support sales effort. Whether you are looking to optimize your ABM strategy or create a new one from scratch, you must consider one integral piece: your sales team. By aligning sales and marketing resources on targeting your top accounts, you gain an added benefit that your marketers begin to think more like your sales representatives.
Align How You Identify Your Top Accounts
When determining your top accounts, consider how you're tracking them now. This includes who makes the decisions on what qualifies a top account, who is owning that relationship and—most importantly—how are you tracking that.
Even if sales and marketing are using the same CRM platform (HubSpot or Salesforce) they can be interpreting the data differently and gathering different metrics. Consider combining these resources to share data that will more easily assist in identifying your top accounts.
When creating your ABM strategy you'll rely less on building out personas but more on creating solid Ideal Customer Profiles. Your Ideal Customer Profile is your target market, built around a specific scenario, and how you are going to solve for them.
These profiles will be refined and modified over and over again but should be your guide for sales and marketing initiatives. Noticed what I did there? Sales AND marketing. If both teams are going to use an ICP, then why not include both teams when defining and developing the tool that will be your reference for strategic bets?
After creating ICPs to define your best fit companies, take your current list of accounts to create a baseline for a tiered system. One suggestion is setting up your tiers as Top 20 vs Top 50 vs Top 100. The content and communication channels will vary between the three tiers, but your messaging between marketing and sales must align.
For example, tier one communications should be highly personalized. Sales will need a defined cadence and track their number of touch points per week, month or quarter. Your marketing collateral will be personalized by creating 1 to 1 collateral that the sales team can use.
Align Expectations on How Sales Follows up with Prospects
One of the biggest challenges I have encountered is the expectation around lead follow up.
If expectations don't align in number of touches or time to respond, what will you use to qualify a lead? What are the proper metrics to track conversions and quality?
Use a Service Level Agreement to define the expectations between marketing and sales and how each team will be held accountable. Here are a few things to consider when creating your SLA:
- How many of marketing leads must be sent to Sales per week, month or quarter to meet their goals?
- How many marketing leads need to be converted to opportunities?
- How quickly does Sales need to reach out to their prospects?
- What does the cadence look like?
- What channels should they be using? Email, video, calling, demos or all of the above?
Be flexible in your cadence requirements. As stated above, different tier accounts require different outreach. Then find a way to monitor their cadence using a property such as lead status or a weekly report.
Consider integrating a sales tool for calling such as HubSpot Playbooks or Costello to round out your sales cadence implementation.
Both tools provide call scripts and guidance while your sales reps are on calls to create more meaningful conversations. It is important that Marketing and Sales align on the message that needs to be delivered depending on the type of conversation. One suggestion is to have Sales draft out the content and Marketing to optimize. Sales should lead the training on implementing one of these tools but keep marketing informed on team adoption and conversion rates.
Align Marketing Content With What Sales Really Needs
Inbound marketing content is typically created and optimized by the marketing team. However, your ABM content strategy will be different. ABM content needs to be personalized, more product-centric, and the narrative across the buyer's journey needs to align between your sales and marketing teams.
Your inbound marketing content can be fully automated through nurturing workflows but the success of your message getting delivered relies heavily on your sales reps. So why not make sure you are creating content they actually want to use?
Start by identifying a centralized place where ABM content can be stored and accessed by your sales team.
I know that sounds like a no-brainier but you would be surprised by how many sales teams have content saved not only in many different places but also with different context and formats.
If you have HubSpot CRM, I would suggest storing your content in the Documents center. It's easy to upload documents and include direct links, and engagement tracking, in other sales tools such as Template and Sequences. Otherwise, options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or Box are great options as well.
When creating ABM content, start with the list of accounts you are targeting and what messaging is needed to engage with them. Sales should be providing you with these insights since they are the ones nurturing that relationship. Don't create a campaign and hope it attracts new prospects. Instead, ask Sales what products should be the feature of focus in your re-targeting campaigns. Ask your sales team, "What are some common questions you get during your sales conversations?" Those questions should be the topics of your content. The more sales is involved with creating the content, the more likely they will be willing to use it.
Align your Sales and Marketing for Closed Loop Attribution
Before I let you go about your merry day, let's quickly talk closed loop attribution. No marketing strategy is complete unless you have a closed loop system that allows you to attribute customer revenue back to their original marketing source or initiative. It will give you the opportunity to use real time data to refine your marketing strategies, arm your sales team with insights into their top account's potential needs, and report more effectively on campaign ROI.
At the beginning of this blog I asked you if your marketing and sales teams are working from the same platform. I did that for a specific reason. People and processes play important roles in closed loop attribution but equally important is your tech stack. It is not uncommon that I will integrate a Salesforce Sales instance with a HubSpot Marketing platform. Tracking mechanisms are put in place to track the progression of each contact through their buyer's journey and map it back to marketing initiatives. Working within the same platform, or integrating two systems together, gives your marketing and sales teams the competitive edge and empowers them with knowledge to close more deals.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to build a successful Account Based Marketing strategy that will improve your targeted messaging, increase account engagements, and increase close rates. Reach out to one of our specialists today to learn more about how Account Based Marketing could be your next big move towards growth.