Sales and marketing misalignment plagues most organizations. We’ve all been there. Sales complains that marketing doesn’t send over good leads and marketing complains that sales never follows up with their leads. Like two bickering spouses, it seems like we can’t just get along!
Your sales team has always talked about account, not leads. Why should your marketing team be speaking a different language? Getting on the same page about this language is just one tactic we recommend to help your sales and marketing teams get back on track to being a cohesive, aligned revenue team.
Read our latest ebook How to Overcome Sales and Marketing Misalignment to learn how to spot the symptoms of misalignment, and learn many more tactics to help you achieve true alignment.
Speak in Terms of Accounts, Not Leads
If you are striving for true alignment, you need to make sure that both marketing and sales are speaking the same language. Specifically, they both should speak in terms of accounts. Think about it, as B2B marketers, we know it’s called ‘business-to-business’ not ‘business-to-lead’. In B2B, you’re never just selling to one individual, you are selling into an account where there are many buyers involved in a purchase decision. Your sales team knows this and so should you.
Jon Miller, Co-Founder of Marketo and CEO of Engagio, an Account-Based Marketing platform, reminds us that sales people never talk about how many leads they’ve closed. They talk about how many accounts they’ve closed. The more marketing becomes an extension of sales, the more crucial it is that marketing adopts an account-based approach.
That’s not to say leads aren’t important—after all, you are still speaking to people. Plus, each account is made up of a number of buyers, if one of those leads is engaging with your brand, your chances of that account buying your business increases.
Create an Account Based-Marketing Strategy
The first step to looking through an account-based lens is adopting a target account approach to your marketing.
Account-Based Marketing is a strategic approach to creating relationships with your target accounts. Account-Based Marketing requires a coordinated effort between sales and marketing teams to create a personalized experience in order to open doors and deepen engagement at target accounts—thereby creating natural sales and marketing alignment.
In contrast to traditional demand generation efforts that use a wide top-of-funnel to attract a high quantity of leads, ABM is very focused—you determine key accounts and target those accounts with a series of marketing programs. It’s a more proactive approach than traditional demand generation. Instead of waiting for buyers to find you and engage with your content, you go out and find them! Much more conducive to sales and marketing alignment—don’t you think?
From the initial account selection, all the way through the buyer journey, sales and marketing teams must work together to achieve an account based approach.
Target Account Selection
Account selection is the process of aligning sales and marketing teams around a list of target accounts and existing customers that are most likely to deliver revenue. You can’t have an account-based approach without accounts right?!
There are a few ways to do account selection:
- You and your sales team can get into a room and decide which accounts to go after based on intuition and experience.
- You and your sales team can look at your engagement scoring and other fit data within your marketing automation platform to decide who to go after
- You can turn to a predictive marketing platform to provide advanced analytics and modeling, so your data can provide you with an objective view of your target accounts
While you can certainly start with a more basic approach to account selection, by leveraging data in a predictive platform, you have a true, data-backed approach to determining which target accounts to go after. In other words, the more data you bring in, and the more sophisticated your account selection is, the more likely it is that you are focusing your efforts on the accounts with the highest propensity to buy.
Predictive marketing provides you with a point-of-view on the entire market. Because predictive combines your data with external data, you get insight into data patterns that you may never have previously considered. This insight helps you fill your funnel with new target accounts that you may never have thought to include—plus, predictive helps you prioritize the right accounts currently in your database.
By both providing your sales team with high-quality target accounts to pursue, and creating programs around developing those relationships, you can greatly reduce the friction between you and your sales team.
Orchestrating a Coordinated Approach
Once you’ve decided on your target accounts, its time for you and your sales team to come up with some well-rounded targeted plays. How can you play off of each other’s strengths to help move an account through the buyer journey? Let’s think through an example.
- Setup: Your sales reps do research into an account to identify the key decision makers in a sales cycle. They estimate there are five key players and do some digging on their professional social media profiles to learn about each decision maker. They then pass this insight to marketing.
- Open the Door: Marketing creates content with this intel in mind, or creates a branded content hub with your existing content that relates to your target account. Maybe you even send a unique direct mail piece featuring your content. Your sales reps also sends your account personal 1:1 communication.
- Moving Through the Funnel: Take executives from the account to a sporting event or dinner with a master chef—something unique and original. Use conversations your sales reps have had with these individuals, or leverage information from their social profiles to decide what would be appealing. Create targeted ads and start targeting them online and on their social profiles.
As you can see from this brief example, with ABM, sales and marketing teams align to create a unique and cohesive buyer journey for target accounts. Consider trying this approach in your organization! Learn more tactics to overcome sales and marketing misalignment in our latest ebook.