In the ever-changing landscape of B2B enterprise marketing, aligning sales and marketing is essential when executing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. According to the good folks at Gartner, highly aligned sales and marketing teams are almost 3x as likely to exceed their targets for net new logos. Coincidentally, organizations with poor alignment across their go-to-market teams experienced an average revenue decline of 4%.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your go-to-market strategy, here’s a good place to start. I’ll warn you; it won’t be easy but by learning from those who came before you, you’ll have a better chance at success.
Common Pitfalls of Sales & Marketing Alignment
1. Time-to-Launch Misconceptions
One of the most challenging aspects of implementing an ABM strategy is what it will take to demonstrate its effectiveness, and that’s time. ABM is inherently tied to revenue, and in the world of B2B enterprise sales, this can be a lengthy process tracking a sales cycle length. Extended sales cycles can often stretch beyond 12 months before making a close, causing frustration for both the sales and marketing teams since revenue is not immediate. Ideally, you see influence on opportunities in 3-6 months, but even that is a long time when you are sitting in sales shoes.
If you are not aligned on what success looks like, it will create a disconnect that can lead to a team of hungry BDRs and SDRs going rogue, pursuing their methods to achieve results. To prevent this, it’s vital that sales and marketing align on what success looks like over time and focus on metrics that matter, such as those outlined in this blog by 6Sense.
2. Sales Leadership Not Buying In
Another common pitfall is when sales leadership treats ABM as a secondary channel. In this scenario, ABM strategies are destined to fail. Yes, traditional leads will still require a follow-up, but all other outbound activities should be centered on the target account list.
According to LinkedIn, an ABM strategy is the most effective with support from sales leadership when leading ABM efforts. Scaled lead generation is not a viable strategy when dealing with a smaller Total Addressable Market (TAM) of a few thousand enterprise companies, which is why many sales leaders are adopting and leading ABM, hence why you adopted an account-based strategy in the first place!
Sales and Marketing Alignment Successes
1. Coordinated Campaigns and Alpha Tactics
Running coordinated campaigns against specific target accounts and utilizing alpha tactics (aka going the extra mile) has been proven to be successful against a group of hand-selected companies that can accomplish a few things.
These tactics will produce quicker results and alleviate unwanted pressure from the sales team by getting strategic buy-ins. A coordinated effort centered around an extra special gesture increases our chances of getting a positive response, taking pressure off the sales team relying solely on cold outbound tactics.
Alpha tactics can include personalized video messages, branded company swag that the person would get use out of or hosting exclusive panels, among others.
2. Constant Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of success in ABM. Regular check-ins with the lead Account Executive (AE) or Director are essential. These meetings allow collaboration on account data and messaging, leading to faster insights and more substantial alignment. Furthermore, communication enables sales to communicate their challenges and request assistance. Each company has unique challenges, and maintaining direct lines of communication helps marketing adapt to the needs of sales.
Communicating frequently and standardizing expectations, allows all activities to have a great impact on overall revenue.
Sales & Marketing Alignment Learnings
1. Be Selective with Requests
Don’t hesitate to be more selective. Often, sales teams undergo significant changes, so be careful not to add to that. While sales must do specific tasks like reviewing spiking accounts, marketing can provide insights to tee up your sales leader. Streamlining your approach by being selective with your requests ensures that both teams work efficiently.
2. Align QBR Reporting to KPIs
To enhance your sales-marketing alignment, let your data tell the story of revenue generation. These could include insights on demo sets, opportunities created and closed deals. By establishing metrics and success on quantitative data, you remove the ambiguity and finger-pointing that comes with qualitative insights. Theoretically, no one can argue with hard data – but I’m sure you can think of someone willing to try.
3. Communication is Key
Once again, the overarching theme of success in ABM is an effective communication strategy. When faced with challenges, your sales and marketing team should collaborate often, whether in person or virtually, to find a solution. A cohesive communication approach ensures that your ABM strategies will be practical and viable.
Why is this important? Simply put, ABM strategies rely on a sales-marketing alignment that works collaboratively, sharing the same goals and objectives to produce an outcome. Much of the education, reporting and support is marketing’s responsibility, so the best approach as a marketing leader is to define clear goals, communicate constantly and remove as many barriers as possible that slow down sales productivity. With this approach, both teams can focus on what they do best – generating revenue and growing the business.
Need help with your ABM strategy? At RenderTribe, we build ABM strategies to drive more sales and accelerate growth. Our RenderLab process helps you identify the unique pieces that fit your marketing strategy and align your plan with overall business objectives. We help build the foundation for measurement, expertise, and the tactical execution to support the plan.
Contact us today to see how we can help you align sales and marketing activities to achieve your revenue goals.