Account-Based Everything: Why Sales & Marketing Alignment is Essential for Successful ABM (and Vice Versa)
Today, we’re going to talk about ABM and sales/marketing alignment. You probably just barely suppressed an eye roll at that sentence, and that’s understandable. There’s a plethora of material out there on both subjects, and for good reason: both are essential to being competitive in the B2B space in this day and age.
These topics keep being revisited because they continue to be a pain point for marketers. We all know at this point that we need to be executing an ABM strategy. We also know that fostering sales and marketing alignment should be a top priority.
However, we often conceive of these two topics as separate and distinct issues when, in fact, they are inextricably intertwined.
You see, the “M” in “ABM” is a bit misleading. While it’s true that account-based marketing (obviously) falls under marketing’s domain, what the “M” fails to convey is that account-based marketing is really more like account-based everything.
There are no two ways around it: account-based marketing isn’t successful unless sales is on board and fully involved in the process.
As noted by Marketo’s Mollie Bodensteiner:
“Alignment between sales and marketing is both a prerequisite for and a product of an effective ABM strategy.”
So why, then, is sales often left out of the ABM equation?
Getting Sales on Board with ABM
Getting sales on board with deploying an ABM strategy may seem like a daunting task. From sales’ point-of-view, ABM means fewer leads. But if your sales team is disenchanted with the leads they get from marketing or if sales is struggling to find a message that resonates with their prospects, ABM can help.
A successful ABM strategy is wholly dependent on sales being “all in” and actually stands to benefit sales almost more than marketing.
Because ABM begins with selecting target accounts (in a selection process that’s not dissimilar from lead qualification), the chance of an unqualified lead landing in the lap of a sales rep is significantly diminished because sales and marketing have already vetted and selected target accounts together from the jump.
If your ABM deployment is successful, sales will only be talking to the highly qualified leads at target accounts.
Aligning Sales & Marketing around Your ABM Strategy
Now that we’ve established the marked benefit of account-based everything, it’s time to discuss how to implement an ABM strategy that makes the shift towards complete, account-based sales & marketing harmony possible.
The first step towards an aligned ABM strategy is bringing in key stakeholders in sales and marketing to determine which accounts to prioritize. Sales is a vital part of identifying target accounts, as they know who the prize accounts are and probably already have accounts in mind that they’d like to target.
After target-account selection, sales can assist marketing in developing personas, with both teams contributing insights to develop more thorough personas.
These detailed personas then are used to develop insightful, targeted content that is personalized and highly relevant to the pain points of the buying groups at your target accounts. Whether marketing simply adapts existing content to be strategically tailored to a certain persona or develops entirely new content crafted with a certain target account in mind, all content put in front of target accounts should be purposeful and carefully aligned with your ABM efforts.
Finally, integrating ABM into your multi-channel strategy is the final element to a successful, aligned ABM strategy. This integration requires open communication and careful planning from both sales and marketing to ensure a unified message between sales and marketing for target accounts, with every touch from start to finish thoughtfully planned and elegantly executed.
Though laborious and intimidating, deploying an integrated ABM strategy throughout your organization, when done correctly, will reap substantial results.
Eighty percent of marketers who track ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing strategies, and conversion rates significantly improve when sales and marketing share ownership of lead nurturing and incubation.
The benefits of a tightly aligned ABM strategy are obvious and significant. If you’ve been putting off integrating an account-based everything ABM approach in your organization, the time is now to start implementing an account-based strategy.
Embrace the new year and start getting sales and marketing on the same (account-based) page. The only thing you have to lose is lackluster leads and a discordant relationship between sales and marketing.