When it comes to Account-Based Marketing (ABM), alignment between the sales and marketing departments isn’t just an industry buzzword or vague business goal. It’s an absolute necessity if your ABM efforts are going to be successful. Without it, the only thing both teams will be aligned on is the guarantee that neither will succeed.
Realistically, just saying these commonly siloed teams need to ‘align’ isn’t enough to make it happen. Although ABM by its very nature creates a more unified, cross-departmental workflow, strategically approaching this alignment at each stage of the process is likely to yield better results.
While ABM compels sales and marketing teams to work together, the following tips will make this cohesion more effective when planning your ABM campaigns.
How ABM Accelerates Sales & Marketing Alignment
Creating Shared KPIs
Although one can’t function without the other, the goals of sales and marketing teams traditionally differ. Marketing is working towards generating as many MQLs as possible, whereas sales are looking for the leads most likely to convert. This disparity between quality versus quantity can cause conflict between the two departments. ABM turns this on its head, establishing one unified goal to identify, engage and convert specific accounts. Both teams will be working with fewer, but higher-value leads.
To ensure this shared goal is measurable, sales and marketing teams should sit down together to map out joint KPIs to hold themselves accountable to. This alignment eradicates the well-versed debate of marketing feeling like sales isn’t pulling their weight, and sales arguing that marketing produces sub-par leads. When you define your ABM campaign performance metrics together, you establish a collaborative precedent from the outset.
Identifying & Prioritizing Accounts as a Team
When choosing which accounts to target, teamwork between sales and marketing is imperative. Sales reps hold extremely valuable information for identifying target accounts – they know your current clients better than anyone, and they likely already have a list of desirable accounts they’d like to target.
For the next step of prioritization, working together on a lead scoring process can be a useful tool to get both teams aligned on what constitutes a viable lead for the campaign. It may sound obvious, but according to Gartner, only 49% of businesses have a common lead definition. Decide together what criteria qualifies a lead as an MQA (Marketing Qualified Account) and an SQA (Sales Qualified Account).
By having this single source of truth, both teams can tailor their approach according to leads’ individual scores. Not only does this create a more streamlined internal process, buyers interacting with your campaigns will also enjoy a better experience thanks to delivery of content that’s relevant to their stage of the buying journey.
A Transparent Approach to Content
It’s common for sales to grumble they can’t find the right content for their prospects, and the data supports this – 65% of salespeople agree. Marketing isn’t actively gatekeeping, but it can be hard to manage the volume of content required, even with sales enablement software in place.
This simply isn’t an option with ABM. Its highly personalized approach means that sales and marketing must work on the content strategy together and be totally transparent about what assets are for who, and for when. The marketing team can create the most effective content in the world, but if it doesn’t go to the right person, at the right time, their efforts are futile. Sure, much of this will be automated, but a sales rep being able to quickly lay their hands on a highly relevant asset while communicating with a high-value customer can be make or break.
Measuring Results with Joint Accountability
Alignment throughout the rest of the process ensures things are much smoother when it comes to measuring results. B2B buying cycles are lengthy and ABM is a long-game approach. But with sales and marketing aligned on their KPIs, no one will have unrealistic expectations of seeing conversions before they’re due.
Marketing is in the best place to provide the data required for measurement, but they shouldn’t be the only ones at the table when results are being discussed. Ensuring sales are in the room not only reinforces everyone’s accountability, but also provides a more holistic view of performance. Sales reps are likely to have some anecdotal information that provides qualitative insight to feed back into the campaign when optimizing going forward.
Account-Based Marketing, when done correctly, aligns sales and marketing teams around common goals, and removes the limits created by traditional departmental silos.
If you’re looking to kick-start ABM and are interested in upgrading your pipeline with ABM solutions that identify prospects, activate buyers and convert opportunities, please contact DemandScience today.