The concept of sales and marketing alignment is nothing new, but it’s still something many B2B struggle with. While some business are embracing a smarketing culture, others are acting as though sales and marketing have nothing to do with one another — and they’re getting left behind.
Why is sales and marketing alignment important?
Let’s start by looking at the following stat:
Yikes! While traditional outreach tactics like cold calling and emailing do have their benefits, they also have significant limitations.
Your buyers are busy, which means they’re only going to respond to marketing messages that really resonate with them — and generally, cold calls and mass emails don’t fall into this category. What buyers are really looking for is personalized, targeted marketing that caters to their needs and pain points.
In other words, they’re looking for a relationship.
But how can companies be expected to build these relationships when their buyers won’t pick up the phone or respond to emails?
It’s All About Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) involves starting with the accounts you’d like to target rather than the marketing channels you’ll use. Once your team comes up with a list of target accounts, then you can expand your reach within those accounts to engage key decision-makers with your marketing.
When key accounts are targeted with personalized advertising across different channels (think social media, mobile, display advertising, and video), buyers will already be familiar with your product or service by the time your sales team reaches out to make an introduction. This is huge because it means that the relationship-building process is already underway.
An account-based marketing strategy can go a long way toward putting sales and marketing on the same page and helping them win together. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
1. Flip the B2B Sales and Marketing Funnel
At many organizations, sales reps and marketers are struggling to make contact with their buyers via traditional methods. That’s because they’re focusing too much on channels and not enough on people. Instead, I suggest you flip the funnel on its head and start thinking about customers first.
Who are your target buyers? What would you consider your “best-fit” criteria? In an ideal world, which companies would you like to turn into customers? This sets the stage for hyper-targeted marketing messaging down the line.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to think big when you’re choosing target accounts, as long as the companies you choose fit your ideal customer profile (ICP).
2. Identify Key Accounts
Once you’ve flipped the funnel and started approaching your marketing with a customer-first attitude, it’s time for marketing and sales to have a conversation about target accounts. Find out which accounts your sales team is working on, and make those accounts the primary focus of your ABM strategy. This is a conversation that should happen on a regular basis so that both teams are always aligned by the same objectives.
To assist in this identification process, marketers can use any number of account-based marketing technologies — such as Dun & Bradstreet, DiscoverOrg, and many others — to help pinpoint the companies that match their best-fit criteria. Then, they can use technology to expand their reach within those accounts to include decision-makers who are not already in their databases.
2. Select Your Channels and Messaging
Next, marketers can target the decision-makers at these key accounts with personalized messaging via the channels they use the most — everything from social media to direct mail to industry news websites. This can be accomplished using ABM tools like Terminus, PFL, Triblio, and more.
I suggest creating a variety of graphics and messaging that you can personalize to each account, as this will greatly increase the effectiveness of your campaigns. And voilà — with no heavy-lifting from sales, you’ve set up targeted, multi-channel advertisements that reach your audience on their terms, not yours. Goodbye cold calls!
3. Begin Active Outreach
Once your messaging is in market, it’s time for your sales reps to begin outreach using more traditional channels. Your marketing team has created significant coverage for sales using account-based marketing, so when a sales rep makes a call or sends an email, your prospective buyers are already familiar with your company. This increases the effectiveness of sales outreach and gives sales reps more confidence in their marketing counterparts.
4. Measure and Optimize
As always, no marketing strategy is complete without a process in place to measure results. Keep tabs on the performance of your ABM strategy and swap out the creative and the messaging if you’re not seeing the results you want. With an ABM platform like Terminus, you can optimize your campaigns in real time, so you can see the effects of any tweaks you make almost immediately.
Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are constantly communicating about new target accounts, changing goals, buyer personas, and the most successful messaging and channels. By being transparent and sharing all your successes and failures with one another, you can continually optimize your account-based sales and marketing efforts.
The Bottom Line
To be successful with account-based marketing, B2B marketing and sales teams need to take a collaborative approach. Input from sales will increase the effectiveness of your ABM campaigns. As a result, marketing can enable sales by putting highly targeted programs into market, helping sales create a more powerful dialogue with their buyers.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can align your sales and marketing teams, check out the #FlipMyFunnel e-book. It’s full of information about flipping the funnel with ABM to put B2B sales and marketing teams on the same page. Click here to download the #FlipMyFunnel e-book now.