Here at Demandbase, we fully anticipate that within a few years, the question “Why Account-Based Marketing?” will outright disappear and in its place will arise generally accepted agreement that ABM is how successful B2B marketing gets done.
In the meantime, we take our role as a category leader very seriously and spend a lot of resources educating and supporting sales and marketing professionals in their efforts to craft, launch, execute, maintain and benchmark ABM strategies within their organizations. The distribution of the knowledge that we’ve acquired through our own efforts to successfully traverse the full spectrum of the marketing funnel, as well as our interactions with hundreds of customers, spans multiple platforms, including blog posts, webinars, in-person events and our popular ABM certification programs.
But no matter how this information is consumed by our target audiences there is always a desire for MORE. MORE real-life applications, MORE customer examples, MORE use cases. We get it — for the stressed out B2B marketer, theory is nice, but guidance on practical application is divine. As such, throughout the Demandbase blog, you’ll find multiple posts from our own team of ABM practitioners that offer tips, tricks, hacks and straight-up checklists to help you get on the path to true impact.
If you have participated in one of our workshops or attended our annual ABM Innovation Summit, hopefully you received one message loud and clear — Sales and Marketing alignment is key to ABM. (You don’t have to take our word for it, a quick trip over to Google should give you a million results.) However, for organizations across all stages of ABM maturity, achieving this alignment can feel like one of the most challenging and potentially hard-won battles. Old habits die hard and in comparison to other core ABM tactics like re-allocating budgets or adjusting KPIs, moving towards true sales and marketing alignment often requires a cultural shift supported by stakeholder buy-in. Here are a few of the steps that I have taken in my role in Field Marketing to operationalize this commitment:
Quarterly Planning – Like most marketers we start each year with a general idea of our strategic initiatives, goals, messaging themes, and major events and campaigns, but leave flexibility for necessary pivots and fine-tuning based on feedback from sales. In advance of each quarter, I take time to meet with sales to review the results of programs and get their input regarding gaps or real-time challenges we could not have anticipated. These mini-check-ins mean the ship doesn’t get too far off path before we can implement a course correction.
A Week in the Life – How many salespeople do you directly support? If the number is less than or equal to 52, you’re in the envy-inducing position to be able to spend some quality 1-on-1 time with each of your sales counterparts over the course of a given year. As a provider of solutions and services that cater directly to our marketing peers, my team members often ask to be included on sales calls so we can hear the latest and greatest market intel directly from potential customers. Historically, this was difficult to implement on a systemic basis, so I established “A Week in the Life” program and assigned one week to each member of my sales team. During that one week period, they can invite me to meetings to either be a silent observer or an active participant, contributing marketing and product content. This program has proved invaluable in supporting the development of marketing materials, ensuring our messages are timely and relevant and last but certainly not least, increasing my empathy for my sales colleagues.
Support of Sales-led Initiatives – Even at the most-evolved ABM maturity levels, where Sales & Marketing are working in lock-step, focused on shared goals, there will be spontaneous or non-budgeted sales ideas that aren’t quite ready for Field Marketing prime time. In these cases, I like to apply the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule. Can I offer 20% of my normal marketing support to achieve 80% of the desired outcome? Normally this takes the shape of providing solid marketing discipline to an Account Executive’s fledgling idea, such that we are able to determine the ROI at the end of the “campaign.” Things to consider — capturing details in SFDC, our CRM, tracking the budget and a quick debrief to determine what did and didn’t work. In a best case scenario, some of these fledgling projects that combine sales knowledge and marketing know-how end up making their way to the official Field Marketing roster. A win for all involved!
Are you an ABM practitioner with real-life sales and marketing alignment tips that might help your fellow B2B professionals start on the path to effective collaboration? Share your thoughts with me on twitter @B2BABM.