Editor’s Note: this post was originally featured on MarketingProfs in March of 2016.
We B2B marketers are on the cusp of an evolution.
This shift in the industry is caused by the rapid growth in marketing technology. The relatively new martech industry has grown by 98% between 2014 and 2015, with nearly 2,000 vendors covering the landscape and offering a variety of data collection, personalization, and automation tools.
Armed with that technology, B2B marketing and sales teams are enhancing sales strategies through effective customer engagement, much like their B2C counterparts have been doing for a long time.
The traditional B2B marketing process started with a broad, untargeted approach to capture and communicate with as many potential new customers as possible. Now, however, smart B2B marketers have realized an opportunity to minimize long sales cycles.
Enter account-based marketing.
Account-based marketing, or ABM, is all about identifying and targeting best-fit customers because broad-based lead generation models no longer work effectively in today’s customer-centric world.
Moreover, sales teams are able to close deals more quickly with an account-based approach. A whopping 92% of B2B marketers said ABM was “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts, according to a study conducted by SiriusDecisions.
It’s time to flip the B2B funnel.
Now, let’s call our prospects and customers what they are: accounts. Your accounts are what keep your company going; after all, it is called “accounts receivable” on your company’s general ledger.
With ABM, B2B companies must become hyper-focused on their target accounts.
Moreover, the growing selection of martech software makes it easier and more viable for B2B marketing and sales teams to “flip” the traditional sales B2B funnel and focus their efforts on a smaller number of right-fit customers, or a targeted list of accounts. Doing so helps to ensure resources are allocated to the right people who can become paying customers.
To explain how martech aligns with account-based marketing, I’ve developed an approach I call #FlipMyFunnel.
There are four stages of the flipped B2B funnel:
Let’s examine how the account-based marketing and sales process works.
Your B2B marketing and sales teams collaborate on a list of target accounts, or the companies that are the best fit for your business. For that to be done, you need to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) by examining your existing customer base to determine the industry and size of the companies that have been most successful with your product.
From your list of accounts, you must expand the company information with contact information based on buyer personas. These personas should define the job description, role, and responsibilities of the contacts you want to find in your ICP. Those contacts will be the people you engage with directly during the sales process.
Execute your marketing plan through such tactics as hosting events or webinars, emailing content like white papers or e-books, and connecting on social media. Make sure you truly engage with your clients.
You can measure and track engagement with those accounts using your marketing automation software and/or ABM platforms. Engaging your accounts helps to create velocity and further progress them through the sales process.
Even after you’ve successfully closed the deal, there’s still more work for your marketing team to do. If the mantra is true that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers, your marketing team should do everything in its power to ensure customer success by retaining accounts and keeping them happy. Creating customer advocates can be one of the most successful forms of marketing, as your clients are touting the success they’ve had with your company.
Stop wasting marketing resources.
The need to transform traditional B2B marketing and sales models to an account-based approach is further spurred by the fact that B2B companies must minimize resources wasted on customers who aren’t the right fit — and then effectively engage those that are likely to buy.
The bottom line: if you’re stuck doing traditional lead generation, don’t ask your salespeople what type of marketing they need. Ask which accounts they need to close. It’s time to flip that B2B funnel!