ABM Works If You Do Your Homework
We’ve heard marketers say that account-based marketing doesn’t work or is even dying. The only thing that may die is the term because ABM will be the standard marketing practice in B2B. B2B marketers must figure out how to intelligently market to accounts if they want to thrive in today’s workplace.
When asked why she feels marketers give up on ABM, Damaris said, “There are a lot of things that you need to do upfront to get ABM to work. There is an infrastructure component. There is a lot of heavy lifting around strategy? Selection of accounts, prioritizing those accounts, getting sales and marketing to agree that these are the right set of accounts.
“Next, you create a pilot. The first time you run a pilot, everything will breaks? You may not get the desired results. And because there’s so much effort and work behind going live with your first ABM pilot, I can see where a lot of marketers would give up.”
The shame in this is that ABM campaigns are an effective way to strategically move accounts up the buyer journey. But it only works if you have the right infrastructure and buy-in from sales. Often, the largest source of dissatisfaction voiced by sales to marketing is that marketing is not targeting the correct accounts or audience. Without sales buy-in, they won’t pursue leads, and if that happens, you are doomed to fail. The problem is, you can’t rely on sales to provide you with target accounts.
Damaris feels that marketing should own selecting targets, with high-level input from sales. This means they should give guidance around which traits are the highest priority. Then marketing should research historical sales to verify whether or not the correct traits and priorities were selected.
Prepare to come to the table with examples of why accounts that stick out in sales rep’s minds are an anomaly. Similarly, give a lot of examples of accounts that do meet your profile and the wins associated with them.
“Going through a planning process together, creating a prioritization system, and providing results were key to achieving a consensus on that set of target accounts. Still, not everyone was bought in. Initially, we created our first pilot campaign around those target accounts. We identified the target personas (a difficult but necessary exercise prior to going live). I don’t think it wasn’t until we actually got a win within a big account that sales started to pay attention. Once they got a meeting with the right person and saw it progressing toward a significant opportunity, they understood the value of ABM is real.”
The Necessary ABM Framework
There are four essential ingredients to make account-based marketing work well:
A marketing automation platform (MAP) is a great starting point, but MAPs tend to summarize all data on a person record and not consider account entities. This makes aggregating engagement data by account nearly impossible. However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your marketing automation platform. The data must be clean (deduplication) and complete (enriched) to properly segment your data.
“Data is a big deal. Is your contact database clean? Do you have all the contact information you need? If you don’t, you’re going to fall flat. Data powers an effective account-based marketing engine.”
Bad data is an expensive marketing problem. Marketers estimate they waste 21% of their budgets and miss out on 20% of revenue opportunities because of bad data.
“When you’re building up that ABM foundation, you really want to think about figuring out attribution early on. You’re going to use a lot of channels to reach these people. How are you going to tag each channel and figure out which ones are the most effective? Think about setting up those foundational things early.”
Some of us struggle to convince leadership to invest in the proper analytics infrastructure. Some leadership teams put a little too much faith in Excel and underestimate the value in investing in the proper architecture.
“I think you can bridge that gap in understanding the minute you get an increase in budget and you need to prove where it’s going. It’s the best use case to convince your executive team to invest in attribution. If you’re on the hook to prove where $10 million was invested this year and how it performed, I think you can make a case for using attribution to track how every dollar is spent and what we got out of it. That’s how I’ve been able to sell attribution internally to the C-suite.”
Data savvy marketers use attribution a bit differently for their own purposes. Data savvy marketers use attribution a bit differently for their own purposes. “We just want attribution to continue to refine the campaign. We want to figure out what’s working and adjust. It’s not necessarily all about the ROI for us as marketers.” This doesn’t mean we aren’t saving a ton of money by being more strategic about our campaign execution!
“The only other thing I’ll add that can help you speed up your selling cycle is adding intent data. We’re leveraging a platform today, and I feel like what used to be a black box, but now we have insight into things like buying behavior. Layering on intent data will make you more successful in the long run.”
A Strong Argument for Having SDRs Report to Marketing
We’ve all noticed the tension that can exist between marketing and sales. We have different objectives, and sometimes it causes friction. This friction is often most noticeable at the handoff point between marketing and sales.
“Sellers tend to replicate what they do with SDR teams. It becomes a numbers game. How many people can you call? How many voicemails can you leave? How many emails are sent?
“There’s not a whole lot of strategy around booking the call. And I think when I moved over into a role where I got to manage an SDR team, what I think was unique about having marketing manage it is it becomes so much more of a more intentional function. They’re leveraging the work that marketing is doing, and they’re incorporating it into their follow-up strategy. They almost become the execution arm of marketing.”
When the sales development representatives (SDR) report to marketing, things can become more of a two-way street. Marketing gets near-instant feedback on whether a specific message or campaign is landing positively with the target audience. Sales can ask and receive collateral to support their activities.
“They’re keeping us honest. They’re great for testing. Plenty of times, marketers have wonderful ideas about which messaging we think is amazing. The SDR starts to execute on that messaging and tell us really quickly (within a week) whether it’s resonating or not. It’s been a great feedback loop as we iterate on the campaign.”
There’s a more natural alignment between marketing and the SDR team if they report through marketing. More conversations between the teams are naturally taking place that let the SDR in on the strategy driving campaigns. While SDR teams that report into sales can interact well with marketing, it’s usually due to a very intentional effort from management. Regular synchronization meetings and dedicated marketing resources to support content creation and email support go a long way.
“When the buyer shifts from just consuming content on the web or downloading things and are contacted by the SDR, they’re also kind of repeating that same message. The buyer journey is more consistent for our prospects. It no longer feels like we’re hitting them with something that’s not relevant to their journey or what they’re looking to solve.
“Conversely, we have a weekly review with our SDR team where we’re looking at their Outreach cadences. We look at the scripts that they’re using, what verbiage, what the content offers are within the cadence. We make sure everything matches up to the campaign, we’re consistent, and the quality is good.”
While many sales SDR organizations may have dial and email quotas, Damaris’ team intentionally aligns them to metrics further down the funnel.
“We do listen to and evaluate discovery calls. We measure discovery calls booked and SQLs created from that team as leading indicators. We’re looking to move measurements further down the funnel into pipeline creation and, ultimately, revenue. It will be a bit of a journey to get there. I’ve been in other organizations where we got there, and I think HighRadius is well on its way. It’s important to evaluate the quality and not just reward people on how many SQLs they are tossing over the fence.”
We want to thank Damaris for joining us on the podcast and encourage you to listen to the rest of the episode to get more tips on aligning marketing and sales and when not to use Facebook as part of your outreach strategy.