Whether your business needs to accelerate growth in order to prepare for an acquisition, raise capital, expand your market or region, or inject more capital into the company, you’ll have to double down on your sales and marketing force in order to scale revenue production. But it’s not a numbers game. It’s about the speed and size of your pipeline and how quickly you can get deals through.
Naturally, it’s common to think that the larger your sales force the greater the revenue potential. So companies immediately start adding to the sales team. Not only does that weigh down operating costs, it also doesn’t equate to increased revenues. More sales people do not equal more sales!
We also see where organizations often have a marketing budget that never really materializes into new clients or more revenues. They’ll have a PR team working on publicity and the marketing team doing what they do whether that’s driving traffic to the website, creating content, or brand awareness tactics. Yet none of that has a direct line to revenue production. That’s because your PR and marketing team are not revenue focused and are not measured by revenue-focused KPIs.
It doesn’t matter the size of your company, the number of people on your staff, and what your average deal size is. The only real way to see fast revenue growth is by being laser focused on the business purpose behind the revenue goal. Because this will drive the sales approach that you take.
If the purpose is to expand the market or move into a new region, then your pipeline strategy will focus more on new client acquisition.
If the purpose is to inject more capital into the company, then you’ll likely focus more on increasing the size of the deals.
If the objective is to prepare for an acquisition or raise capital, then speed and market penetration is your goal and saturating your territory will be the driving force behind your revenue strategies.
Are you old school or new school?
Old school sales convention says that you need leads, and the more leads, the higher the sales. So naturally that’s what your marketing team focuses on – pumping out leads. Yet Gleanster Research says that only 25% of leads are legitimate and that 50% of leads are qualified yet not ready to buy. So then what is your marketing team not doing or doing wrong?
New school says that it’s not about leads but about accounts and that marketing should not waste the sales team’s time until marketing has qualified and nurtured the lead enough and have identified buying signals that indicates that the lead is ready to be closed. Only then does the lead get passed on to the sales team to close.
With this approach, the sales team is not wasting their time prospecting and chasing leads, making phone calls or sending emails that go unanswered. The main role of the sales team is to close the deal.
Yet, Marketing Sherpa says that 65% of B2B marketers are not nurturing leads. No wonder sales teams over function and burn out – because their marketing teams are not effective at nurturing accounts.
Sales and marketing has to get on the same page
Often times when we launch an ABM program for a new client, they’ve come to us because they’re frustrated with their marketing process and how it’s not effective at growing the business. So when we run the client through a sales audit as a starting point, we almost always find that they either don’t have a sales process or that the sales and marketing teams are disjointed.
ABM requires sales and marketing to be aligned because both departments need to have shared KPIs and should collaborate in naming target accounts. Sales should also stay in their lane and not take on functions that should be a marketing responsibility, and marketing needs to only hand off a prospect to sales when it’s ready to close.
Unless you’re a commodity, subscription service, e-commerce company or some other type of business where sales is largely driven by web traffic and all you have to do is drive demand, then your sales and marketing process is critical to revenue production.
So how do you achieve this alignment? It’s part of the sales reengineering that we do for our clients. In short, we itemize every function that your sales team is currently doing and reassign it to the marketing team if it should not be a sales function. We then create common KPIs between the two, restructure the marketing team to have one side focused on the usual brand activities and the other side solely focused on sales driven activities. Essentially, we use systems design thinking to reengineer the process to be more effective.
So who do you want as a customer?
Can you name specific accounts or customers by name that you want to do business with? If you’re a SaaS company, this means knowing the specific enterprise accounts that’s important to your business. Similarly, the same is the case for a professional services firm like a CPA or engineering company.
You should know the named client to pursue, the potential deal size, who the financial decision makers and influencers are, and also understand their buying cycle. This is the underlying premise of Account-Based Marketing and the new school approach to generating sales. Not only does it help to close larger accounts, it also cuts down on a lot of the extra fat in the sales process that’s not effective and ends up wasting time and money.
This is one of the most important first steps. If you can’t name your target accounts, then you need to go back to the drawing board before your sales team proceeds. And the key to accelerating sales is to target high value accounts.
The goal is to pursue only the target accounts with the potential to provide the highest value to your business, and use ABM to engage and court the prospect until the deal is closed.
ABM types: which one is right for the business?
Once sales and marketing is aligned and you have named the highest value target accounts to pursue, this is where you can really start to focus on sales acceleration.
As part of our ABM-as-a-Service, there’s three approaches that you can take: Strategic ABM (1-to-1), Scaled ABM (1-to-Few), or Programmatic ABM (1-to-Many).
We recommend Strategic ABM to pursue and engage your biggest potential clients with the highest revenue potential. These are the accounts that you want to spend the most one-on-one time nurturing, adding value to, and building a relationship with so that your organization is on a first name basis and your goods and services are top of mind for when they are ready to buy. So the goal is to keep this list small and to treat them as markets in their own right.
These accounts may take longer to close and there may be more people involved in the buying decision, but when it finally does close, the size of the account and the revenue potential is significant and creates tremendous impact for your pipeline.
Scaled ABM, or one-to-few, is best approached when you can group accounts with similarities so that the personalization can be scaled. In other words, instead of having a new nurturing program for each individual account, since this group of accounts share commonalities, you can use the same nurturing programs for all the accounts in this group and still have enough personalization. It’s easier when these accounts are of the same industry or have very similar business challenges or needs. With Scaled ABM, you can increase the number of accounts compared to just a few manageable accounts under Strategic ABM.
Programmatic ABM, or one-to-many, uses a slingshot approach to nurture accounts. There’s some personalization but not significant enough and you can target hundreds or thousands of accounts. Programmatic aligns well with demand generation campaigns where the goal is to generate leads. So essentially, you can use Programmatic to warm up the lead using marketing automation and allow lead scoring and other KPIs to signal the accounts that are showing the most interest and that should move up to Scaled or Strategic ABM.
Use sales enablement tools to fuel ABM
This is where your tech stack comes in handy and allows you to automate and measure. Sales enablement includes everything from the content that you’re using to nurture accounts to the CRM, technology, sales intelligence, account data, digital channels, to the people and all of the tactics that will fuel the sales funnel.
ABM runs on high value, educational content
Your ABM program is nothing without quality content. And not just any content. It has to be personalized content designed to add value and educate the prospect account. It’s not about you and all about what the prospect needs and is challenged with. In a nutshell, your content strategy should be account-based. Especially in the case of Strategic ABM where the marketing is personalized to just a few named accounts, the content that is developed needs to speak to data and market intelligence gathered on the prospect.
This graphic is from a study that shows some of the common content challenges that B2B marketers face, and surprisingly, understanding the right type of content to create for the accounts and then tracking consumption of the content are the biggest challenges in ABM.
The 90-day playbook
We’ve shared the fundamentals above and the big theme of this guide is to help you put it all into a 90-day playbook. The goal here is not to realize all the sales and revenue growth in this short time but to pilot a program and scale what works. Doing so will set your company on a path that in 90-days you’ll be able to see a significant shift in how your accounts and leads start to respond to your approaches.
ABM can be an expensive lift, and although we’ve simplified it in this guide, it can get complicated and process intense, which is why we strongly recommend launching with with an ABM Pilot. The Pilot forces you to focus only on just a handful of named accounts, or whatever is manageable, and rolling out the entire ABM process in a measured and calculated way that allows you to test out your procedures and easily monitor the KPIs. This helps you to validate if your approach to naming target accounts and deploying a one-to-one approach is effective or not. The pilot lasts a short while, say 90-180 days, and will drive how you deploy a full scale ABM campaign based on internal capacity, budget, tech availability and other key factors.
Hopefully, this guide brings clarity on why your sales process has not been as effective as it should be and where the process needs to be reengineered. We can help you understand the reengineering process by scheduling a consultation.