Four top tips for aligning sales and marketing with ABM

For those who have yet to embark on an ABM adventure, aligning your sales and marketing teams all in one go is a hefty challenge.

Getting sales and marketing to chat openly and honestly about the sales process is hard. That’s why we asked two of our favourite AMB experts, Catherine Howard, VP Marketing at Atos, and Emma Gould, Marketing Manager at BT Business and Public Sector to chat candidly with us at the recent B2B Marketing Account Based Everything event, about their experiences. A full-to-capacity event reaffirms our belief that ABM is taking off in a big way, so below are four nuggets of advice from our panel on how to align your sales and marketing teams under your ABM strategy.

1. Start small, drive success and build advocacy

For those who have yet to embark on an ABM adventure, aligning your sales and marketing teams all in one go is a hefty challenge. It sounds obvious, but starting with just a few individuals from each team, and focusing on helping them succeed is much more likely to garner success than wholesale sweeping changes across the organisation. Joel Harrison editor of B2B Marketing talked through their research, which stated that 60% of marketers doing ABM have ‘only some’ of the skills required – so think about training and upskilling requirements to help drive this success. And don’t just rely on good will between the teams – successful ABM needs SLAs between sales and marketing to ensure targets are met and both have a unilateral agreement on expectations. Advocacy shouldn’t just be from customers – getting the right salespeople on board championing the achievements of the strategy can help spread the success.

2. Realise ABM is at the heart of sales success

Basing your sales structure on accounts, and not lead gen is a mindset and attitude change. And, once some results from a small scale project have come to fruition, more sales and marketing people will be open to the concept of aligning their goals. Catherine Howard, our client said at Atos they don’t call anything a lead – they have ‘unqualified opportunities’. If ABM is about paying greater attention to a customer, focusing on their challenges and helping to solve them, isn’t that what all customers want? – And isn’t that what all sales and marketing teams want to deliver? Therefore adopting some ABM principals such as sales enablement practices, regardless of your overall strategy, can help drive sales across the board, and bring sales and marketing together under a united structure.

3. Focus on the client, not your own organisation

The mindset change with ABM flips the traditional sales model; it’s not what do you want to sell, it’s what does your customer need to buy. It’s focusing on the customer, understanding their business and knowing what they need to buy, when and why. Michael Avis from Oracle reinforced this with his opening slide from his session stating ABM is focusing on what customers want, not what we want to sell. And the teams need to work together to discover this information. Marketing teams can use tools such as intent and behavioural data to get insight on customers, and sales teams who speak to the customers regularly will have other insights to add to the mix. Again in his presentation, Michael stated that insight is the foundation for good ABM. Together this information becomes valuable in predicting a customer’s readiness to buy and gives the sales and marketing teams the opportunity for a shared goal – serving the customer.

4. Show value and ROI

One of the biggest points of contention between sales and marketing is the lack of demonstrable value from marketing. It’s all about quantity (we’ve hit our XXX number of leads target), not value (we’ve got ten leads which are properly qualified and we think they are ready to engage). By using insight from a variety of sources, such as when a customer shows particular focus on an area, using data to reinforce this insight and properly qualify each potential lead, the marketing team can demonstrate more value and potential ROI to their sales colleagues.

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