It’s true. B2B customers are spending less time with salespeople. In fact, 70% of the buying process is already complete by the time a prospect talks to a rep. This may seem like the end of the world if you’re a salesperson. How can you influence buying decisions if you only persuade (at best) 17% of the purchasing process? Clearly, you need to adjust your strategies and tactics to accommodate the modern buying journey.
One of the best strategies to cope with current B2B buying trends is account-based marketing (ABM). In B2B sales cycles, a sales rep typically speaks to multiple stakeholders across multiple touch points before a purchasing decision is made. An ABM sales strategy is built to make targeting and engaging with that many stakeholders and personas easier. While ABM can produce stunning results, it does take some forethought before implementing. If you are considering an ABM strategy, you are probably wondering, “Where do I start?”
The key role a sales team plays in an ABM program is collaborating and working with the marketing team. Sales and marketing alignment is crucial when it comes to a successful ABM strategy. That means understanding your target account audience, personas to target, and aligning your messaging.
Alignment is critical but can also be challenging. And for good reason. Surveys have shown that only 7% of salespeople say marketing leads are high quality, and only 28% said marketing is their best source of leads. While ABM is designed to fix these shortcomings, it does mean you might have your work cut out for you. You’ll need a good understanding of the benefits of ABM in order to persuade your sales team it is a strategy worth pursuing.
You’ll also want to determine if your sales team is structured for an ABM program. Do you have the SDRs to identify and qualify inbound opportunities? Do you have the BDRs to cover outbound channels? Do you have the right sales leadership to drive success? If the answer is no, you might want to try a different approach.
Do You Know Who You’re Targeting?
ABM starts with selecting target accounts. Which is pretty much qualifying leads, just at the beginning. If done right, there is little to no chance that an unqualified lead will end up in the hands of sales because sales and marketing have selected target accounts together from the very beginning. If done wrong, you end up with poor leads.
Developing ideal customer profiles (ICPs) ensures you’re targeting the right accounts. Understanding the industry, company size, location, revenue, etc., helps you develop clear value propositions and the correct messaging. It also helps decide what kind of content to create and what channels to use to distribute that content.
Do You Have the Right Tech Stack?
ABM is a technology-enabled marketing strategy. Meaning you need the right software to make it successful. In reality, you’re probably going to need more than one piece of marketing software. This means that, along with your existing systems, your ABM platforms all need to talk to each other. This will make the data more actionable and help you understand what’s working across your entire funnel.
Every company is different, and your tech stack will have to accommodate your specific business needs. That said, most ABM tech stacks will need similar kinds of software.
- Infrastructure – These platforms serve as the foundation for your entire tech stack. This includes CRM solutions like Salesforce or marketing automation software like Hubsopt.
- Account Selection – You need to invest in software that can help you account plan, find company and contact data, and track intent data and visitor information.
- Engagement – This part of your tech stack should leverage your current data from your infrastructure and account selection tools to create the right messaging and deliver it at the right time.
- Sales Engagement – Sales engagement tools can help boost productivity for sales, shorten sales cycles, prospect personas within accounts, and provide customer data.
- Measurement – Your measurement software should focus on account data and tie your marketing activities to revenue.
What Are Your Goals?
Every strategy needs a goal, and ABM is no different. ABM is about quality, not quantity. If you are too focused on lead creation and not conversions, your ABM will not be successful. Metrics should be focused on how you are impacting your organization’s ROI and bottom line. Metrics such as click-through rates are much less important than revenue performance metrics such as average deal size and close rates.
Do You Have the Right Content?
Content is what drives your ABM strategy. Your first step is to take stock of the content you already have. It’s also a good idea to audit your current content library after you establish your target accounts and ICPs. That way, you can ensure your content aligns with the audience you want to reach.
The next step is determining how you will create new content. Content creation is difficult, time-consuming, and absolutely essential for a successful ABM program. From the outset, you need to clearly define what kind of content you want to create, who is responsible for the content, and how you plan on distributing the content.
It Starts Internally
ABM has proven its effectiveness for a growing number of businesses and marketing teams. The only way ABM can truly be successful is if both marketing and sales are aligned. This can seem like a hard sell for sales teams that are skeptical of marketing and don’t know how they can make the transition.
What is your first step to a successful ABM approach? Sell your internal customers first. Write a pitch they can’t resist and prove that they are ABM sales-ready. After that, the rest will fall into place.
Need help getting your sales team ABM ready? We’re here to help. RenderTribe is a full-service ABM agency that creates account-based programs and support for sales and marketing teams. Reach out to our team of experts today to realign your go-to-market team and get your goals back on track.