Dave Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn, says one of the key benefits of ABM is how it aligns the sales and marketing departments.
"To break down walls between sales and marketing, ABM is pretty close to a silver bullet in that it aligns programs' dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales teams cares about. So there's inherent buy-in." - Dave Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn
While that statement is right, it doesn't go far enough. ABM is such a transformative approach that it will eventually break down all of the barriers between sales and marketing.
Data is the key to the rise of ABM and the eventual unification of sales and marketing. New data-driven tools and technologies enable marketers to gain insights into how individual prospects at target accounts are behaving (both online and offline) and automatically serve these prospects messages to drive them through the sales funnel and ultimately toward a sale. With this data, marketing is arming salesperson to close deals smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
"ABM allows you to maximize your sell time, number of opportunities and revenue per opportunity, empowering Sales & Marketing to deliver increased Vitamin R (revenue) to the organization" - Shail Khiyara, Chief Marketing Officer
The blending of sales and marketing may be a few years in the future, but forward-looking marketers should invest time right now in exploring account-based marketing. You may have heard varying definitions of account-based marketing. The exact definition can be hard to pin down -- here's a blog post featuring 10 definitions, all of them legitimate -- but Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, nails it:
"Account-based marketing is simply instead of fishing with nets, we're fishing with spears. You identify exactly the prospects you want to do business with and then you market very precisely and narrowly to them directly. I think we have a renewed interest in ABM now, because there's an advancement in tools and technology that make it a little easier to execute - but the idea of doing target account selling and target account marketing is not new."
- Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing
Taking an ABM approach, led by marketing, can deliver many immediate benefits to your marketing organization, chief among them:
• Boosting sales and marketing alignment.
• Increasing content relevance.
• Improving customer experience.
Boosting sales and marketing alignment
Sales teams have used an account based approach for a long time. In fact all the sales calls we have led or have sat in have a thorough overview of the funnel and customer/prospect accounts in play.
Historically, Marketing has taken a broader view of the market, generating as many MQLs a possible from as many companies as possible, and then filtering these leads through to the sales team.
"In today's era, a customer is a customer when they express intent, not when they sign the contract. MQLs are not the ultimate outcome or destination of today's marketing function. Leads have to be followed through to the opportunity stage, measuring funnel velocity, mCAC , sCAC (CAC = customer acquisition cost), and eventually close-win and close-loss"
- Shail Khiyara, Chief Marketing Officer
Account-based marketing drives the symbiosis between sales and marketing, through a fairly simple first step - dialogue. In collaboration with the Sales team, marketing creates a list of targeted accounts on which it will focus its content and communications efforts.
"Account-based marketing is thinking of the account as a market of one."
- Nick Panayi, Head of Global Brand and Digital Marketing, CSC
With ABM, an individual member of the marketing team focuses on single account, or a small number of accounts, and develops a marketing plan and creates marketing content specifically for that account or those accounts. The seeds of unification begin to show roots at this stage, bringing marketing and sales closer together than ever before.
Increasing content relevance
ABM embracement by Marketing is facilitated by the rise of new technologies that makes it possible to precisely target messages. New technology -- predictive analytics, lead scoring, customer relationship management, and account targeting tools, such as the newly launched LinkedIn Account Targeting -- have made the delivery of relevant content on the account level a reality.
With these new targeting technologies, marketers can craft tailored messages to a specific industry or even to a particular company. Moreover, they can create customized messages to individual roles with the business. For instance, the message to the CFO will be different from the human resources director and from the CMO.
"We're looking to customize our marketing activities and message in close collaboration with our sales team - and not just down to a buying center or persona but right down to the individual."
- Dorothea Gosling, ABM and Pursuit Marketing Center of Excellence Leader, CSC.
Improving the customer experience
Marketers practicing ABM at the highest level will find that they are marketing with exceptionally little waste, particularly compared to television or print. With digital technologies (and maybe a little direct mail and face-to-face events thrown in), account-based marketing delivers targeted messaging at scale.
This approach creates a significantly better experience for the customer and the prospect. In ideal world, customers and prospects receive fewer off-target messages, wade through fewer emails, fewer annoying cold calls. And when targets are exposed to advertising or other marketing messages, these messages are more relevant than ever. In a world where customer experience is becoming increasingly important, ABM can help make big improvements to the experience of being marketed and sold to.
Unification - One Team, One Dream
Better customer experience. More relevant content. Improved sales and marketing alignment. With ABM you can experience all of these improvements right now. And you'll also begin preparing for a world when the last barrier between sales and marketing will be knocked down.