The Latest from the Go-to-Market Experts
January 16, 2017
7 Signs Your B2B Sales Team Needs Account-Based Marketing
Would your B2B sales organization benefit from an account-based marketing strategy?
Account-based marketing (ABM) focuses on marketing at the account level rather than just the lead level. But in reality, it’s about much more than just marketing.
ABM gets your sales, marketing, and customer success teams all on the same page by focusing them on the acquisition and retention of best-fit accounts and turning them into advocates for your brand.
- Your sales team hates marketing lead lists.
- Your marketing team is currently nurturing one (maybe two) contacts per account.
- Your marketing team’s primary goal is generating leads, not pipeline
- Your marketing team runs campaigns without input from sales
- Your company is using email as its primary marketing channel
- Your marketing team creates content that your sales team can’t use
- Your content and campaigns are not aligned with the stages of the buyer’s journey
Let’s take an in-depth look at seven tell-tale signs it’s time to get started with account-based marketing.
Sign #1: Your sales team hates marketing lead lists.
If your sales team is like mine, they hate having to sift through lists of countless leads from their marketing team because the percentage of leads that are actually qualified is really low. They feel they can find better accounts faster by doing their own prospecting rather than having to disqualify a large portion of every marketing list.
In part, this is because the definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL) is still insufficient for many B2B organizations. There are two primary reasons this is true.
First, the quality of the account is more important than the activity of one individual.
Many times, the quality of the MQL is based on the activity and title of an individual instead of the quality of the account the individual comes from. As a sales leader, when I train new sales hires on how to maximize their outbound prospecting efforts, I train them to find accounts that meet our ICP (ideal customer profile) and pursue only those.
Based on our research, we know that the accounts that meet our ICP are much more likely to buy our product and to do so at a higher price point. These accounts in our ICP are the most efficient for the sales team to invest time in. We want our definition of what an MQL is to reflect the quality of account.
For example: a marketing coordinator at one of our best-fit accounts who had low activity on our website would be of higher value than a VP of Marketing at a low-fit account with a lot of activity. We may engage with both eventually — there can certainly be exceptions to the ICP — but our sales team would prioritize the high-value account.
Secondly, one individual cannot make a B2B purchase decision.
MQLs can also be deceiving because they focus on one individual. According to Gartner, it takes five to seven stakeholders to make a buying decision, and in large companies, it could take ten or more.
The activity of one individual in an account does not qualify that an account is sales-ready. When a salesperson receives a lead, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to engage multiple individuals in the account.
So many sales professionals would prefer to find and break into their own best-fit accounts than to do the same amount of work to pursue a mediocre marketing MQL. These actually require more work from the sales person.
I recommend instead a focus on MQAs (marketing qualified accounts) instead of MQLs because an MQA requires that multiple contacts be engaged in an account. At many companies, MQLs can actually slow the sales team down.
#1: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
Account-based marketing resolves both of the above challenges with lead generation. It requires that marketing works with sales to create either a named account list or very clear ICP that defines what a best-fit account looks like.
This alignment gets both teams on the same page about the accounts that your organization wants to target and how to best reach and attract those accounts. When both teams are working towards the same goal, rules around the lead or account qualification will reflect that purpose and will take into account quality of account and number of engaged contacts.
As mentioned above, an MQA is a marketing qualified account, and it’s central to account-based marketing. Instead of scoring one lead, this model includes scoring the value of an account. A high-value account would require less engagement to become an MQA than a lower value account.
Sign #2: Your marketing team is currently nurturing one (maybe two) contacts per account.
If your marketing team is only nurturing one or two contacts per account, they’re missing a huge opportunity to accelerate pipeline. As a result, your sales team has to do the legwork to identify and then win over the rest of the decision-makers at every account they’re working.
#2: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
“But wait!” you might say. “How can I nurture contacts I don’t have in my database?” Simple. You can use account-based marketing technology like Terminus to expand your reach within accounts to contacts that are not in your database.
In other words, if a curious intern at a target account attended your webinar, you can use ABM tools to automatically reach other contacts at that account. As a result, you can get your solution in front of the entire buying committee instead of one or two individuals.
- Your marketing team has already generated brand awareness across the account by the time your sales team reaches out to prospective buyers.
- Your company will stay top-of-mind as the account progresses through the buying cycle.
Sign #3: Your marketing team’s primary goal is generating leads, not pipeline.
According to a 2015 BrightTALK survey, 53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on lead generation. The problem is, less than 1% of B2B leads turn into customers (Forrester). That’s a huge chunk of your company’s marketing budget down the drain.
[Tweet “53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on #leadgen (via @BrightTALK)”]
#3: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
When you adopt ABM, your marketing team will shift their focus to pipeline rather than lead generation. As sales leaders know all too well, a lead is only useful if it turns from a prospect into an opportunity — and eventually into a happy customer.
When shifting the focus from volume-based marketing to a targeted approach, it’s important to measure account progression instead of lead generation. In other words, how many of your target accounts are progressing from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next, and how quickly is this transition happening?
With a good ABM strategy, both of these metrics should increase. Your sales team cares about account quality and win rates, so it’s time to get marketing onboard too.
Sign #4: Your marketing team runs campaigns without input from sales.
Prospective customers don’t distinguish between your sales and marketing teams. You have one brand. When marketing deploys a campaign without collaboration from your sales team, they’re leaving room for a serious disconnect.
If prospective customers Bob and Lucy are talking to a sales rep about your product and your marketing team sends them an email with mismatched messaging, they’re going to get confused or possibly lose trust in your business.
[Tweet “Sign you need #ABM: Marketing runs campaigns without input from #sales.”]
#4: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
Account-based marketing is all about complete alignment between the marketing and sales teams — AKA “smarketing.” Here at Terminus, we have a smarketing meeting first thing every Monday so all our team members start the week on the same page.
The most important thing here is collaboration. In order for your marketing team to support the sales pipeline, leaders from both teams must plan for a joint go-to-market approach. This often means you have take some time in order to plan ahead, but I can tell you from experience it’s worth it.
Important questions you can answer for your marketing team include:
- What activities drive engagement within your target accounts?
- What kind of content is most effective in moving an account from one stage of the buying cycle to the next?
- What common objections do you see from prospective customers?
Bottom line: your marketing team should sync up with sales before running any new campaigns, and your sales team should do the same before trying out new messaging or sales email cadences.
Sign #5: Your company is using email as its primary marketing channel.
If your marketing team frequently uses the term “email blast,” you could probably benefit from ABM. Whether they’re blasting the same emails to the entire database or they’re relying heavily on lead nurturing, they’re missing a huge opportunity to engage with prospective clients.
Emails can easily be ignored, and this approach requires marketing and sales to have contact information for each contact in an account, which is far from scalable for most companies. It’s important to use a multichannel approach to increase the likelihood of getting your prospect’s attention, and to maximize the number of contacts you can reach in the account, as some individuals prefer different channels.
[Tweet “Sign you need #ABM: You’re using email as your primary #marketing channel.”]
#5: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
Account-based marketing allows you to engage your target accounts across multiple channels. For example, the Terminus platform lets you reach stakeholders not in your CRM across social, mobile, video, and display channels with digital ads, even if they haven’t been to your website. Other ABM technology can facilitate engagement and account progression at-scale via channels like:
- Direct mail
- Personalized videos
- Interactive content
- Your website and blog
Check out the Terminus Cloud for ABM to discover account-based marketing technology that will help you engage buyers on their own terms.
Sign #6: Your marketing team creates content that your sales team can’t use.
But, of course, we don’t want just anyone to read our content. We want the right people to read it.
If your marketing team isn’t developing each piece of content with your company’s ideal customer profile in mind, it doesn’t matter how good the resulting work is. If your marketing team is creating content your sales team can’t use, they’re wasting their time.
[Tweet “Sign you need #ABM: Your #marketing content isn’t useful to your sales team.”]
#6: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
An account-based marketing strategy requires everyone to be laser-focused on your ideal customer profile, including both demographic and firmographic information. Personalization is key, and because account-based marketers have a deep understanding of their target accounts, it’s relatively easy to disseminate personalized marketing content based on industry or vertical.
With traditional digital marketing, it can be extremely difficult to ensure your personalized content gets in front of the right people, especially if you don’t have their email addresses in their database. But with ABM technology like Terminus, you can be sure you’re targeting the right individuals at best-fit accounts across all they channels they frequent.
Sign #7: Your content and campaigns are not aligned with the stages of the buyer’s journey.
When the focus is lead quantity, it makes sense that marketers would cast a wide net and release top-of-the-funnel content that will draw a large audience. But when your company’s goal is to turn high-quality accounts into customers, it’s important that your website has highly personalized content for every stage of the buyer’s journey, and beyond to a true customer experience.
#7: How Account-Based Marketing Helps
Imagine you’re evaluating a new product for your company. You’ve viewed demos and talked to sales reps, and now you’re in the process of choosing between two different vendors. Through the magic of retargeting, of course you’re seeing both companies’ ads everywhere. All other things being equal, which ads will be more effective?
- Vendor A’s ads promoting an upcoming thought leadership webinar on the state of the industry
- Vendor B’s ads highlighting a feature comparison of their product versus Vendor A’s product
Vendor B’s ad is more effective because they aligned their content to your stage in the buying process. Account-based marketing technology like Terminus allows your company to do this automatically. For example, when an account progresses from an MQA to an opportunity in Salesforce, they can automatically be served more product-focused digital ads to decision-makers at that account — and the same goes for every stage of the sales cycle and the customer journey.
This allows your prospective buyers to educate themselves about your product or service on their own terms. And as all sales professionals know, it’s easier to have a productive sales conversation when a buyer feels like they’re coming to you and not the other way around.
All Signs Point to Account-Based Marketing
Not doing account-based marketing will cost you – literally. (Read The Cost of Delaying Account-Based Marketing to learn how.) Fortunately, the ABM space is full of technology that will help your B2B company overcome marketing, sales, and customer success challenges. Click the banner below to explore dozens of ABM tools and build your ideal account-based marketing stack.