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ABM and Sales Velocity: How to Use ABM to Run Pipeline Acceleration Programs

Author Baillie Ward Category Account-Based Marketing, Activate, Measure

Velocity is a key metric in a B2B organization.

By understanding how quickly accounts move through your funnel, you can more effectively forecast, make revenue projections, and optimize your sales process.

There are a few ways to measure sales velocity (sometimes referred to as pipeline velocity):

  • Total time spent from opportunity creation to close date
  • Total time spent in each opportunity stage
  • How much value new customers provide over a given period

Use this formula to calculate sales velocity:

Velocity = (# of Opps x Avg. Deal $ x % Conversion Rate)/ Avg. Conversion Time [in days]

Let’s say you get an average of 100 new opportunities a month with an average deal size of $10,000 at a 15% conversion rate (conversion = new customer). Your average sale takes 2 months (60 days) to close.

(100 x 10,000 x 0.15)/60 = $2,500

With this formula, you’re working with a sales velocity of $2,500 in potential revenue per day.

At Terminus, our finance team will measure sales velocity across various segments (e.g. small business, mid-market, enterprise) for a more accurate picture of how quickly deals are moving in different market segments.

You can monitor cohorts for changes in sales velocity over time to measure the impact of product updates or pricing changes. You can also segment out your audience to measure velocity across specific audience segments (such as industry rather than company size). If you can find a way to close deals faster in key audience segments, you can boost your sales velocity.

According to SiriusDecisions, the average sales cycle length has increased 22% over the past five years due to more decision-makers involved in the B2B buying process.

Why should you care?

Beyond the obvious answer (closing large deals faster = more revenue), increasing your sales velocity just makes good business sense:

  • Shorter sales cycles require fewer resources because you spend less time developing the sale
  • You don’t have to worry about a competitor swooping in and taking the deal
  • You don’t have to struggle to keep the momentum until ultimately ending up with a “no decision” loss

So how can account-based marketing help with this?

Identify and target high-velocity segments

Sure, you might know your velocity across individual market segments, but how are you using that information? Outside of revenue operations, velocity data can – and should – be used to make informed decisions when strategizing.

Sales and marketing teams can work together to identify segments with the best (or worst!) velocity and find ways to drive faster sales and higher conversion rates in each segment using ABM.

Example: Productry is a SaaS company that services companies in the Retail, Hospitality, and Consumer Packaged Goods space. The Productry team primarily works with mid-market and enterprise organizations. After calculating the velocity across their three main verticals, they realize their velocity in the Retail vertical is 33% lower but has a much higher-than-average ACV. If sales and marketing can find a way to boost velocity in that vertical, it provides a huge revenue opportunity. The teams join forces to cherry-pick a small number of key accounts in the Retail space and identify the challenges or objections that might be slowing down the sales cycle. Marketing then creates a series of content pieces, ads, and direct mail concepts that the Productry sales reps can use with other Retail accounts to address those challenges and move things along in the pipeline. They create an ad that says, “{Company}, inventory management doesn’t have to be puzzling. Put the pieces together with Productry.” The ad includes images of puzzle pieces and matches an email header with similar messaging. The sales team orders a branded puzzle and ships it out to their key account list with Sendoso, then asks marketing to launch a display campaign. They follow up with phone and email outreach.

Reinforce the message sales is sending

Historically, marketing efforts stop after an opportunity is created.

But in an account-based organization, sales and marketing work together before, during, and after opportunity creation all the way through the sales cycle.

Because with an account-based approach, sales don’t happen in a vacuum.

Instead, marketing should be working in the background running pipeline velocity campaigns to drive brand/product awareness and reinforce the message sales is sending in their conversations.

By using account-based marketing tactics to complement the 1:1 conversations your account executives are having with opportunities, you can reinforce the message sales is sending and reach more decision-makers at those accounts.

As you work to engage more decision-makers, ABM can also help you educate key accounts outside of the conversations your sales team is having. You can coordinate multi-channel touches across display, email, direct mail, and more to get eyes on content like:

  • Customer case studies
  • Product updates
  • Industry-specific content
  • Whitepapers
  • eBooks and other downloadables
  • Webinars
  • Competitive analyses

Example: Cloudvance is a global IT Services firm that works with FinTech companies. They have a handful of stalled opportunities that got stuck in the sales cycle after saying they weren’t ready to make a decision yet. Cloudvance’s sales team uses Bombora intent data to monitor when accounts are surging on certain topics and a rep notices that their target account is researching their services (and their competitors). Marketing launches a service-specific ad campaign related to the topics they were searching along with a 1:1 campaign with messaging tailored to that account’s challenges (that the AE shared based on previous conversations). The sales rep reaches out to their CMO and asks if she can send a handwritten letter to the CMO of their target account with a message that echoes the 1:1 ads. The CMO offers to travel to their office for an onsite consultation to show them a few new services Cloudvance wasn’t offering when their prospect first reached out (services they knew they’d be interested in based on Bombora intent data). The rep kicks off email and phone outreach and loops in the CMO to start a new line of communication and make an introduction.

Achieve deeper account penetration

The typical buying decision for a B2B solution involves anywhere from 6 to 10 decision-makers.

Decision making is a decentralized process, and contracts have to be passed through multiple hands or departments before signing on the dotted line.

Chances are, your sales reps aren’t actively involved in conversations with the entire buying committee. More often than not, they work with one or more “champions” who are the point of contact for most, or all, of the sales conversations.

Account-based marketing makes it easier to reach more decisionmakers in your target accounts and achieve deeper account penetration. With role-specific targeting, you could run display campaigns to the roles (or departments) involved in a buying decision. You can also monitor anonymous web activity to see if unknown contacts in an account are surging on a relevant topic and use that to start a new line of communication.

How to Use ABM to Run Pipeline Acceleration Programs

Account-Based Ads

Sales rep having trouble getting in touch with the CMO who makes the final decision? Implement role-specific display ad targeting to get in front of the higher-ups in your target accounts. Or, use department-specific targeting to get in front of a larger audience and raise awareness of the value your solution offers outside of your main point-of-contact.

At Terminus, we use dynamic ad nurtures to target open opportunities at different stages of the sales cycle. For example, once an account becomes an opportunity, we automatically move that account from a general awareness tactic to an acceleration tactic that’s better funded and targets even more departments within that account.

Support Sales with “Smarketing” Campaigns

Support sales efforts to engage more influencers and decision-makers in target accounts with education, experiences, and evidence aligned to each stage of the buying process.

Engaging open opportunities is a distinctly different experience from engaging leads.

After all, you have the benefit of firsthand knowledge of who you’re trying to target.

What data or insights do you have at your disposal that can support your sales team? Or, what insights does your sales team have on this account that can guide your marketing efforts?

Marketing and sales should work together to identify the content and experiences that would be most valuable for each account based on the intel each team has gathered so far.

For early-stage opps, you might be working with a limited amount of information. You can rely on third-party data to guide your strategy until you establish a deeper relationship.

For later-stage opps, the more personal you can get, the better. Sales should travel to onsite meetings, loop in your executive team for face-to-face conversations, or host smaller, more intimate gatherings after industry events.

Something as simple as a lunch meeting during a conference can do wonders for building rapport, trust, and engagement.

Marketing can create collateral (a well-designed card you mail out before a conference inviting them to a post-show dinner) to support these initiatives, in addition to initiatives like:

  • Personalized direct mail campaigns (a book they’d enjoy, swag from their favorite sports team, a bag of coffee they rave about on social media)
  • Product-specific ad campaigns that highlight features or benefits that solve the pain points they’re experiencing
  • Sharing testimonials from current customers who are in a similar space or solved a similar challenge
  • 1:1 landing pages and content experiences designed just for that account

Monitor for Intent Surges

Know what competitors are of interest to your opportunities and understand what features and functionalities are important to them.

Don’t be kept in the dark about what your opportunities are researching outside of your solution. Arm your sales reps with intel that helps them better evaluate their active opportunities with intent data. Intent data helps you capture and monitor critical signals that will give your team insight into:

  • What features or functionalities are most important
  • What competitors your opportunity is researching
  • What industries your opportunity is hoping to target
  • What challenges they’re facing

Staying abreast of this information puts your team in a much better position to close a deal than if you’re relying solely on sales conversations to get that info. You can use a solution like Bombora (or Terminus, which offers native intent data) to accomplish this.

Final Thoughts

The B2B buyer’s journey is no longer a linear process. You may start, pause, and revisit conversations multiple times before you ever discuss a contract.

Rather than letting the new reality of B2B sales slow down your growth, try hitting the gas and experimenting with acceleration campaigns.

ABM can help with that. With account-based marketing, you can reinforce the message sales is sending, achieve deeper account penetration, and educate key accounts on your product or service. This can help unblock bottlenecks in the sales cycle, increase efficiency, speed up the sales process, and boost your pipeline velocity. Plus, if you’re investing time and resources in deepening account relationships, you’re improving your odds of closing larger deals.

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