ABM: Are you thinking, or blinking?

One of the joys of the virtual conference is that everyone gets their chance via chat to really grill the experts. So, with this in mind, the recently held B2B Marketing ABM Conference prompted me to dive deeper into the topic of just what ABM solutions sales need now.

Great research makes you think, but some makes you blink and say: ‘did I just read that?’

According to the latest research from Kingpin, snappily titled Examining the relationship between B2B sales and marketing teams in the era of ABM, 39% of marketing professionals think they could do a sales job easily, whereas only 30% of sales professionals think they could thrive in a marketing position. This was a blink moment! Are marketers just more arrogant, or does it reflect that some of us started our careers in sales? I hope the latter, although sadly the research didn’t give me the answer. But it did make me think. Today, I am a marketing consultant, but I still use my sales skills daily, negotiating with colleagues, stakeholders, suppliers and sometimes wider still with family members (a useful skill in lockdown!).

This made me reflect – do we really try hard enough to step into our sales colleagues’ shoes? In the past, trips out with a key account salesperson to visit customers would always give me the biggest learnings into both the customer needs and their buying behaviour, but also into the daily challenges sales were facing. Much is made of how much easier it is now with digital customer journeys: we can access intent data, analyse the stakeholder buying group behaviour, trigger alerts to sales, and much more, but are we really giving sales what they need?

The Kingpin research highlights that there is, in fact, a gap, and not just in terms of the much talked about lack of alignment between sales and marketing. Just two in five sales professionals are fully satisfied with the guidance and insights provided by their marketing peers, despite claiming to use these insights to prioritise leads.

Why? Perhaps we are failing to address that it’s not just about marketing giving sales the insight they need, but also enabling new tools to help them do what they are brilliant at: selling.

Great salespeople are well informed, not just about the products and services that they are selling, but their customers, the markets, and their competitors. This year, it has been clear that the salespeople who were continuing to sell, were the ones listening to their customers and finding solutions to their problems. One of the biggest problems for us all has been understanding which sectors are still in buying mode and those that focused on survival. Something that impressed me was how Infinity, SaaS call tracking software, used its data to inform clients on a daily basis, which markets were thriving, and which were in meltdown.

These demand shifts have been massive, and forward-thinking marketing departments have fed their sales teams with trend data, powering useful and intelligent conversations about what is happening. This is useful, helpful stuff and met a clear requirement. That’s not selling you say. Of course it is! Salespeople today are consultants helping their clients solve problems. Those salespeople that can provide real value become trusted partners and then the supplier of choice. Perhaps this is a learning we as marketers need to take onboard if we are going to be the trusted partner of sales.

B2B Marketing ABM Report 2020

This year’s ABM report reveals where most B2B marketers are at in their journey to ABM excellence, the challenges they’re facing, and what their ultimate goals are. Download to find out more!

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