For so long, the sales process for B2B companies was an output-driven formula based on churning out a steady pipeline of leads, making as many phone calls as possible, and having an ‘always be closing’ hustle. The sales funnel was shaped like a triangle with the point at the bottom and the funnel at the widest opening at the top filled with as many leads as possible. What came out at the bottom were a few good deals, but by that point, a lot of output was already expended.
The friction between sales and marketing
Sales and marketing teams often bump heads because they don’t always work together to drive more revenue to the business. Sales teams have also typically taken more of the burden to grow the bottom line while marketing has traditionally been responsible for building the brand. Marketing does not typically take responsibility for revenue production. And this is why there’s often friction between sales and marketing because one is seen as a profit driver (sales) while the other as a cost center (marketing).
When the marketing department is seen as a cost center, that’s because the team is typically brought into organizational initiatives further downstream in the decision-making process. This typically coincides with the shortsighted notion that marketing is simply just advertising. In many cases, executives are looking for strategic input from their marketing team, but don’t know how to draw that out. (See this post where we discuss how organizations incorrectly view marketing as a necessary cost that yields little to no profit.)
Account-Based Marketing: The transformative sales model
As Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and marketing technology got injected into the sales process, marketing teams (some of them) got a better understanding of how to fit within the sales process in order to be a better driver of growth beyond the vanity metrics (e.g. impressions, engagement, etc). Prior to this ABM adoption, the activities that came out of the marketing department didn’t always align with the output that came out of the sales team.
After all, why would organizations allocate a dedicated marketing budget yet have no real expectation of that budget yielding an ROI that contributes to revenue growth? This has been the school of thought for so long until ABM came into greater adoption.
ABM can transform the way companies close deals and accounts. But first, sales and marketing must be aligned and work together towards the KPIs that matter. In fact, companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing [Source: MarketingProfs], hence why an ABM approach is the real driver of B2B sales and revenue growth
The Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) defines ABM as a, “strategic approach to design and execute highly targeted, personalized marketing programs and initiatives to drive business growth and impact within specific named accounts.”
In other words, ABM aligns marketing and sales teams to focus time and resources on accounts that are most likely to drive revenue. It increases close rates, speeds up pipeline velocity, generates traction in named accounts, and ultimately produces more revenue. ABM inherently forces strategic alignment from the onset.
The idea of ABM is that the sales funnel would be flipped with the widest opening at the bottom and the point of the triangle at the top. (See the above illustration that compares the old way of viewing sales compared to ABM).
At the top are a few hand-picked prospect accounts with a propensity to purchase the goods/services, and as the accounts are engaged and nurtured through a one-to-one marketing approach, what comes out at the wide bottom of the funnel are larger, closed accounts. The goal would be to close larger accounts without all of the burnout and expended energy under the old sales model.
In the old sales model as shown in the illustration, marketing’s main role is to cast a wide net to generate leads and push them over to the sales team to do the rest of the heavy lifting. The sales team is responsible for all of the account engagement, including prospect identification, sales outreach, pitching, proposal development, closing etc. Since most of the leads never close and have a low conversion rate, this results in the sales team over functioning and not being as productive as they could be.
How does ABM help grow your business?
Consider this statistic: 50% of sales time is wasted. Imagine the loss in productivity as well as the lost in potential revenue all because the process doesn’t make the best use of your sales team’s time.
In this list of 110 Sales and Marketing Stats, you’ll see that 50% of sales reps ignore marketing leads (#99) and that B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams has cost them upwards of
10% or more of revenue per year (#100). Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales (#7). At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. 56% are not ready, 40% are poised to begin (#12). Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment (#43) and 15% of every sales reps’ time simply leaving voicemails (#50). These stats prove that the outdated sales process that most sales teams are still running is a waste of time and costs the business money.
If you want to move your marketing department from a service provider function to a driver of growth, this is where ABM comes into the picture. ABM is a holistic approach to account outreach in conjunction with sales. ABM coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagements at specific accounts prior to the hand-off to the sales team to close the deal.
The marketing team is expected to play a much more significant role in sales velocity and pipeline growth given that marketing is already charged with creating demand, among other things. This allows the sales team to focus on closing deals instead of managing the entire process as is the case in the old model.
Courting your accounts
A unique way to think about ABM is essentially as a courtship. You’re courting your accounts throughout the process, including post-sale. Courting your accounts is a way to think about how to be more personalized and more caring towards your customers and potential customers.
The aim of courting is to engage with potential accounts so that they take some sort of action. It’s crucial to know that courting is not just marketing tactics at a distance, but rather it is inclusive of specific sales outreach and touchpoints that are personalized, while always demonstrating value.
Courting is a warmer feeling to Account Engagement. For improving account engagement, you need to look into account engagement metrics. Observe data like users coming to your site and what web pages they are visiting, responses to emails or downloads of white papers, and their response to social media posts. Also, keep tabs on what is happening with the account or company in the public eye.
Once you have this insight, you can improve and customize the methods to enhance the customer experience.
Kicking off ABM starts with sales re-engineering
We help B2B companies achieve sales velocity and accelerate the pipeline by first reengineering the entire business development and sales process. We start by auditing your entire process and recommending where deficient areas can be improved through various ABM approaches. We’ll launch the program with a pilot and create a playbook that your sales and marketing team can use to measure success.
Contact us at (305) 741-0378 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.