14 tips to guarantee ABM sales and marketing alignment
Kavita Singh scours the wealth of insight shared by speakers at B2B Marketing’s last account-based marketing conference, to give you the top tips on achieving ABM sales and marketing alignment.
1. It’s never too early to include sales
Make sure you’re incorporating sales into the conversations at the initial stage of your ABM programme.
Tom Perry, CEO of Sherpa, recalls not getting in quickly enough with a key salesperson. “He cornered me before we started and asked ‘What fresh hell is this?’. All we needed was to go for a chat over tea and walk through the process together.”
2. Agree on your objectives before you pick your accounts
Although it’s crucial to be thorough in your account selection it’s best to start small. Rather than having a deep dive discussion around specific accounts, run through the process of what you’re expecting from sales, then move the conversation on to more detail.
3. Gather intel from a variety of data sources
Make sure you pull account insight from a variety of data sources – certainly from both marketing and sales. Once you’ve ingested information from all of sources you can select accounts that make the most collective sense.
Kevin Cunningham, CEO of MRP, says: “ For us, intent is extremely important. That predictive insight means we can prioritise our target market and let them know more about what they’re most interested in. It’s important to action that data in real time.”
4. Think beyond the immediate accounts
Alisha Lyndon, founder of Momentum ABM, says: “Don't just think about your top accounts, think about the entire account universe. There are clearly buying patterns . Look at a scenario where you’ve got an account with product A or proposition A What’s the next natural step in that journey?”
5. Research key executives
Kate Owen, Capita’s director of strategic marketing, advises researching key executives in your target account. A question to keep in mind is: ‘What’s their thought leadership agenda?’ When you ask yourself that, you start to form insight and can differentiate their value proposition. Kate says: “Accounts should bring that deep customer insight – and I think marketers by nature can be more analytical than account and sales people.”
6. Talk about messaging
Sales will often say they don’t like the format of a marketing message and want to choose it for themselves. However, your marketing material will set the tone for future engagements, so consistent messaging is essential.
Tom at Sherpa says: “There is naturally going to be a level of protectionism when marketing moves into existing accounts, especially for those at a higher level. Having this messaging conversation will bring sales into the wider ABM cycle.”
7. Match personalisation to your account’s level of comfort
It’s essential to master personalisation across your sales and marketing messages however, it’s best to gage comfort levels first. What depth of personalisation do sales think their target contacts would feel comfortable with? It could vary from blogs to personalised landing pages to direct messaging, but going in hard with a card for their child’s birthday is likely to be too much.
8. Collaboration is key
Make an effort to build relationships both internally and externally. Key account managers need to be aware of the more tedious details, such as pricing and admin. To help with this Mike Green, Capita’s director of account management, advises that marketers learn the same lingo as the other teams involved.
9. Cultivate influencers
You can have all the data analytics in the world, but it’s worthless if you can’t use it to influence people. Recruit those to your team who inspire confidence. You’re not only collaborating, you’re creating ABM ambassadors both in sales and marketing.
10. Get into a PR mindset
Don’t shy away from bringing PR (or a PR ethos) into the fold. Capita’s Kate argues that some of the best ABMer’s have a PR background - they understand what motivates people and how to handle a crisis if one arises. They can also bridge the gap between sales and marketing with a shared goal of quality content.
11. Use ABM to secure new partnerships
Momentum ABM’s client, Statestreet, Alisha is using ABM to sell to partners as well as through them. In 2020, Statestreet will put more emphasis on its joint ventures by using ABM to form partnerships with other banks, tech vendors and asset managers.
12. Think big
Alisha advises: “Don’t see your ABM strategy as a single campaign. Think about the change you’re driving from a sales and marketing perspective, but also operationally and with your customers.”
13. Keep the process simple
Create a programme that’s right for you and your organisation. Fiona Gallagher, group marketing manager at LinkedIn, started out with a small ABM team, and had to adapt to what suited their resources. She recommends keeping the process as simple as possible. Achieving alignment is tricky in itself, so don’t overcomplicate the procedure.
14. Help leadership understand your contribution
Communicate the relationships you’re unlocking for key customers and sales teams. You’ll need qualitative information from all relevant teams on a daily basis, so make sure you have access to the partners who can give you that information when needed.
This year’s ABM report provides essential reading for those wanting to gain a realistic and confident view on the typical cost of ABM, how long it takes to hit ROI and the success marketers you’ll see along the way.