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What technological tools/solutions does the Sales team need to make it successful?

 

In many ways, ABM has put a spotlight on innovation in sales organizations. Although ABM includes the word “marketing” in its name, the strategy is ultimately about driving sales and revenue. In companies that are getting it right, ABM is having a profound impact on the way sales organizations operate and on the technology that supports them.

 

In some ways, today’s sales organizations are standing where marketing teams were 5-10 years ago. Over the past decade, marketing technology went through a significant evolution – developing programs and systems to help marketers cope with and excel in the new digital age. But, while marketers became proficient in marketing at scale on the digital side, when a lead got to Sales, “it was the same ‘Let’s meet and I’ll show you a demo’ conversation,” says Mike Telem, general manager, Israel, and vice president, product marketing, Marketo. ABM is changing that. “Since ABM helps marketers be more focused, it is enabling Sales to get more focused, as well, and automate their key tasks” he says. “It’s a joint mission to bring Sales and Marketing closer together and bring Sales up to speed in technology – especially around automation, targeting, and analytics.”

 

At a time when companies are looking for ways to accelerate sales, grow pipeline, shorten sales cycles, and engage with the right customers around value (not price), many are turning to ABM to help them do it. The supporting technologies they are leveraging are revolutionizing performance. Initially, however, they can be confusing for sales organizations that still rely primarily on CRM to support the team. Which technologies do you need? How do you go about selecting them? Of all the solutions out there, which will best set you up for ABM success? These are just a few of the technology-related questions with which Sales leaders are wrestling as they consider an ABM approach.

 

Building the Tech Stack – Together

Just as an overall ABM strategy can be successful only if Sales and Marketing teams are fully aligned, decision making about the technology that will support ABM must be a collaborative effort as well. That’s because the technology must not only support sellers and marketers individually, it must also blend to give the teams complete visibility into accounts, marketing, and sales touches within those accounts, activity by leads, and more, to enable a coordinated targeting and engagement approach. Sales and Marketing leaders must work closely to align and collaborate on the technologies that will best support their goals and ensure those technologies will integrate.

 

Having a centralized ABM solution in place is key for ABM – after which, says Telem, there are four main categories of tools that are helpful for launching and scaling an ABM strategy (with specific emphasis on the Sales part of the team).

 

1. Predictive: Broadly speaking, these tools evaluate your existing customer base and then try to find opportunities similar to your best customers. Predictive tools provide an internal and external review. Internally, these tools comb the existing lead and account database to identify best prospects, enabling the Sales team to focus its efforts on the accounts predicted to be most likely to close. Externally, predictive solutions are able to review Web activity, social networks, and so on, to find potential prospects that match the ideal profile.

 

Predictive tools accomplish this by constructing several ideal types of accounts and personas based on your current successful customers (as measured by data points such as company type, size, technology they use, location, behaviors, public news, persona types, and whatever other measure is important to your organization). With this information, the tools can predict who else might be successful for your company. Some predictive tools also tag a score per lead (or account) based on this information.

 

2. Data enrichment: Data enrichment tools provide important information about each account or prospect to help Sales better understand their chances with the account and best determine their ideal approach. They ensure Sales and Marketing have enough data about each account to leverage for triggers, levers, and content or to empower sellers to communicate in the way a prospect prefers. For instance, a data enrichment tool might be able to add job title/role within an organization, previous employers, social profile, and other key information that creates a more complete picture of an account and the individuals within that account. Without important information about key stakeholders and what makes them tick, it is very difficult to target an account effectively.

 

Data enrichment tools can be used alone or in conjunction with predictive tools. Some predictive tools – but not all – have a data enrichment component to them.

 

3. Sales automation: At a high level, sales automation tools automate many of the sales tasks that were once typically manual, such as sending emails and making calls. These tools help manage these kinds of tasks according to specific, pre-defined processes and flows. They also help monitor these tasks and their results/performance in an efficient way. Sales automation tools typically focus on high-score accounts and the best decision makers within them for the best results. They can be very helpful in both automating and streamlining the activities of large sales forces to match specific ideal templates.

 

4. Account-based marketing solutions: Of course, no ABM strategy can work without supporting ABM technologies. Solutions like Marketo ABM bring together Sales and Marketing teams to target, engage, and measure key accounts in a highly coordinated fashion. Marketo ABM provides account teams with all the necessary elements that enable them to discover, manage, engage, and analyze the accounts with the most revenue potential, thus driving revenue from their most valuable accounts and delivering higher return on their sales and marketing investments. Engagement platforms such as Marketo’s – that have an ABM solution – can easily integrate with the tools mentioned above, thus providing all essential capabilities in one centralized place.

 

All these tools must work together to give sellers and marketers the information they need to identify their best targets, then pursue them with the right information, at the right time, in a way that is highly coordinated across the Sales and Marketing teams.

 

This requires not only alignment but synchronization between Sales and Marketing, says Telem. “In the past, Sales and Marketing teams have struggled to work together. Now, with ABM, synchronization is happening more and more,” observes Telem. “Gone are the days when companies could say, ‘Prospect Bob is talking to Sales – so Marketing isn’t relevant anymore. Bob or his teammates may still be downloading information from Websites or attending Webinars. Marketing needs to keep pinging them with the right information. The reality is that both Marketing and Sales are constantly interacting with prospects so their processes need to remain in sync.”

 

Powerful Results

When it all comes together – the right technology, backed by synchronization between Sales and Marketing – the results can be powerful. Consider Mintigo. A leading enterprise predictive platform for Marketing and Sales, Mintigo wanted to accelerate its pipeline growth and improve average selling price. It decided an ABM strategy would be the best path to achieve the goal.

 

On the technology front, Mintigo came to ABM a step ahead of most organizations as it already was leveraging its own predictive analytics platform to discover the best target accounts, identify decision makers, and enrich key accounts with data. Mintigo was well armed with predictive analytics, but it needed a platform to provide the essential capabilities of ABM so it could actively target and manage accounts, engage them across channels, and measure the impact of their efforts with powerful analytics. Mintigo selected Marketo ABM – a natural choice as it is built natively into the Marketo Engagement Platform, which the company was already using.

 

Once the new capabilities were added, Mintigo was able to create more meaningful segments within its target accounts and apply highly personalized messaging, delivered through a variety of channels, that was both relevant and timely to their audience.

 

As a result of its overall ABM strategy, Mintigo has seen more than a 43 percent increase in opportunities from targeted, key accounts and an additional 12 percent increase in overall pipeline.

 

“With Marketo ABM, our ABM process is more streamlined, and the main activities such as account management, engagement, and reporting are centralized, enabling us to easily target the decision makers within the accounts we focus on, engage with these prospects through multiple channels, and measure the effectiveness of our campaigns – ultimately driving pipeline and revenue impact,” says Tony Yang, Mintigo’s vice president of demand generation.

 

With marketing and sales processes synchronized and automated, Telem says, “you are able to engage more prospects in an intelligent way that doesn’t bother them but adds value. You avoid the cases of, ‘I just spoke to your sales guy; why am I now getting this unrelated email?’”

 

Beyond scalability and being able to engage more prospects, he adds, “You are able to be more efficient with your salespeople’s time, enabling them to go after more relevant and bigger accounts while wasting less time trying to follow a process – because they have software that manages that process for them.”

 

By aligning Sales and Marketing to collaborate on the technologies they need for a successful ABM strategy, companies of all sizes are seeing these kinds of benefits – and driving large, rapid improvements in sales and revenues.

 

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From Selling Power Solutions For Sales Management, Special Edition 2017

One of the recurring themes in any conversation about creating a successful ABM strategy is the need for alignment between Sales and Marketing. The problem: most people have heard this statement so often over the years, it has become a cliché. Companies understand the need to align Sales and Marketing like a teenager knows he needs to clean his room: he understands he should do it because he keeps hearing about it; it just never manages to get done in the midst of all the other priorities.

 

But ABM cannot succeed without close cooperation between these two departments, say the women who wrote the book on Sales and Marketing alignment. Tracy Eiler, chief marketing officer, and Andrea Austin, vice president of Enterprise Business, InsideView, recently released Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth (Wiley, 2016). They say alignment is foundational for any organization considering an ABM strategy because today’s buyer has changed so dramatically – and, if companies aren’t pursuing them in an orchestrated, highly coordinated way, prospects will walk away.

 

“Customers are coming to my reps more educated than ever. But what are they learning?” asks Austin. “If what my salespeople have to say is different from what marketing is saying in tone or content or timing, the buyer will be confused. And, when there is any disconnect, the buyer will leave.” This alignment must continue through the lifetime of that customer, she added.

 

To avoid that scenario and pave the way for a highly successful ABM initiative, Eiler and Austin say organizations need to align Sales and Marketing in these five areas.

 

1. Communication. This is where great Sales and Marketing alignment starts. Get communication right and you lay the groundwork for success in all areas of ABM; get it wrong and you’ll undermine your entire ABM strategy. Eiler, Austin, and their teams talk daily on an informal basis about what is and isn’t working. They’ve also established a bi-weekly “Smarketing” meeting in which their teams come together to evaluate the past two weeks, what’s happening currently, and the upcoming fortnight.

 

The agenda is operational. If a rep in the Northeast needs pipeline, they’ll look at that. If Marketing is considering two versions of a billboard, they’ll get input from Sales on which is best. Whatever is going on, they’ll discuss. “This gives Sales and Marketing time to ask questions,” says Eiler. “Then you can understand the decisions and not complain about or judge them,” she says.

 

2. Process. Moving a prospect from initial target to closed sale within an ABM strategy requires a well-defined, highly coordinated process. From defining a target to determining how the target will be reached – and with what content and frequency – Sales and Marketing teams must be in full agreement on the “how” for converting targets to deals. “Process” addresses the nitty-gritty details of this day-to-day effort. What’s the orchestration between marketing touches and sales development touches? What are the handoff points? What happens when the opportunity becomes a customer – or selected a competitor instead? How many touches does it require to make a sale – and what’s the procedure if we start going beyond that number?

 

While it’s essential to jointly define the business processes around ABM, it’s also important to remember that the process is fluid. “We have an ABM plan we’ve agreed to, but we are still learning and are always talking to each other about what is and isn’t effective, how many touches it is really taking to make a sale, and so on,” says Eiler. “We have regular meetings between Sales and Marketing to go account by account to see what’s working and what isn’t.”

 

3. Data and Technology. Eiler and Austin group these together because they are so intertwined. With most purchases today made by committee – not a lone buyer – Sales and Marketing teams must have a thorough understanding of the buying teams, the roles, the relationships, and the content being consumed by each person at every target customer.

 

Your technology must support your ABM strategy but it must also be able to connect individual data to an account for a complete picture of a target. This takes not only finding the right ABM technology, but integration of that technology into the existing stack – and clean, accurate data. “Most companies overlook the fact that their data needs just as much attention as their ABM technology,” says Eiler. “If you don’t have all the right people with the right titles and background and other information, you won’t have the reach you want.”

 

“My Sales team spends most of its time in CRM while Marketing spends most of its time in Marketo,” adds Austin. By creating a solution that combines the data from these systems, the teams have joint visibility into contacts, companies, and campaigns. “It’s really important to have continuity of data and integration of systems,” says Austin. “Without it, you might get people and targets wrong.” That data needs to be continuously refreshed, adds Eiler. “We all experience key contacts coming in and out of accounts; you need to stay on top of those changes to be effective.”

 

4. Targeting. Choosing the right accounts to target is a crucial part of the ABM process. Get it wrong and you’ll waste a lot of time and effort on deals that either won’t close or won’t bring in the right kind of revenue – undermining the entire ABM effort. Getting it right requires a scientific, data-driven approach. At InsideView, for instance, Eiler and Austin mapped all their customers on two revenue dimensions that were most important to the company – renewal rate and up-sell propensity. The characteristics of those companies in the top right quadrant – those with high renewal rates and a high up-sell propensity – became the defining characteristics of their ABM targets. “My team will sometimes say, ‘But I have a great contact at this startup company!’ It doesn’t matter because, based on our data, I know that company isn’t a good customer for us long term,” says Austin. “And, if they aren’t a good fit long term, we don’t go after them.”

 

It doesn’t take a lot of technology to do this analysis. InsideView used its CRM system, Marketo, and spreadsheets. Most companies have these; all they need is for sellers and marketers to sit down together and use them to create a target list.

 

5. Measurement. Sales and Marketing must agree on the measures that will be used within the ABM program. While these will be different for every company, “the overwhelming measure that Sales and Marketing need to align around for ABM is pipeline goals,” says Eiler. “Marketing should have some portion of variable compensation tied to pipeline goals.” This is a new idea for most marketers, who prefer to be tied to lead levels or other measures over which they have control.

 

Working with Marketo, InsideView also created a measure called Engagement. “We know that, on average, 34 people are engaging with us to close one piece of business. They are across at least three departments and at least half are at director level and above,” explains Eiler. “When an account is close to reaching those numbers, it is considered Engaged.” Armed with that information, Marketing can show an account exec which of the accounts for which he is responsible are Engaged – enabling him to direct his energies most profitably.

 

“Marketing can now show Sales information that’s relevant to the way they sell,” says Eiler. “In the past, we could have shown them individuals and their activity but not the whole picture. Our Sales teams are more effective now and they are getting to proposal and close faster.”

 

Faster sales cycles are just one benefit of the company’s ABM strategy. Renewal rates are also up and InsideView is seeing bigger up-sell opportunities, faster. These results are all rooted in the tight alignment between Sales and Marketing across the five areas above. “An ABM strategy is already risky because you are no longer going after volume; you’re going after individual accounts,” Eiler concludes. “If Sales and Marketing aren’t aligned, it’s even riskier.”

 

Questions Every Sales Leader Should Ask Marketing

  1. In researching their book on Sales and Marketing alignment, InsideView’s Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin discovered that, while many Sales leaders know they should be talking to their Marketing counterparts, they aren’t sure what to ask. To initiate productive conversations that can transform the Sales-Marketing relationship, Eiler and Austin recommend Sales leaders sit down with marketers and ask the following questions:
  2. How are leads prioritized? What is the lead scoring model? How often do we review it?
  3. How do we calibrate our follow-up capacity? Sometimes there are busy seasons (events, for instance) and the sales development team gets overwhelmed. How do we plan for that?
  4. What are the rules of engagement once a deal makes it to the opportunity stage (e.g., Marketing continues with thought leadership touches, but no specific solution offers)?
  5. What is the intent of specific programs we are running? (Branding? Awareness? Campaigning for a purpose such as deal acceleration?)
  6. What happens when an opportunity ends in “no decision”? Do we have a “wake the dead” nurture in place?
  7. Besides hard program dollars, what is the “people effort cost” for each campaign (Eiler calls this “marketing muscle cost”)?
  8. Explain how existing customers are included (or not) in marketing campaigns.
  9. What kind of visibility will my sales reps have into how an account is responding to our marketing efforts (e.g., interesting moments and other activity made visible by Marketo Sales Insight)?
  10. What kind of flexibility does the Marketing team have to add special campaigns or field events? How much notice do you need?
  11. Is marketing measured by pipeline targets? If not, are you open to it?

 

Andrea_Austin_Headshot.jpg     Tracy_Eiler_Headshot.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Selling Power Solutions For Sales Management, Special Edition 2017

The implementation of any new business strategy often seems overwhelming. Getting from A to B can involve hundreds of steps, over a period of months or years, that impact nearly every department in a company. In all the details, it can be difficult to discern what’s critical and what’s not. What elements of the strategy, if not done right, can unravel the entire initiative?

 

While many details need attention during the implementation process of an ABM strategy, in the bigger picture, companies need to get three things right for ABM success, says experienced sales leader and senior vice president and general manager of the commercial business at Marketo, Ted Purcell.

 

Purcell knows what he is talking about. Marketo doesn’t just sell its ABM solution; it uses the technology to do exactly what it promises to do for its customers—target specific accounts to close more business, faster, leading to higher revenues. In other words, Marketo doesn’t just talk the talk; it walks the walk. It has ‘been there, done that’ when it comes to ABM strategy implementation and is in a unique position to understand the essentials of ABM success both firsthand and as a vendor who has helped many customers implement the strategy.

 

Here, says Purcell, are the three essentials for making an ABM strategy successful. These essentials apply to both enterprise and small/mid-sized businesses.

 

Essential #1: Align sales and marketing. There’s a reason you keep hearing this message. It is so fundamental to ABM success that it deserves repeating. ABM cannot succeed without tight integration and ongoing cooperation of sales and marketing. That’s why sales and marketing alignment was Job 1 for Marketo when it came to rolling out its ABM strategy—and Purcell urges other companies to make it Job 1 as well.

 

Pre-ABM, Marketo’s sales and marketing teams worked closely, but with the launch of Marketo ABM, they identified areas to partner even more intimately to generate even greater results.

 

In order to have a successful ABM strategy in place,  Marketo understood that  strengthening the relationship between sales and marketing teams was the first step. By taking that action, sales and marketing were able to align on the accounts they would target and devise a strategy for going after the right people within those accounts. They worked together to create content that communicated Marketo’s value. It wasn’t about occasional formal meetings; this was about the two teams always walking back and forth, interacting, asking questions, checking data, and bouncing ideas. The teams became integrated, each relying on the other to create the most effective strategy for finding and reaching its target prospects.

 

Marketo created this alignment in late 2016. The results has been so positive that Marketo plans to reduce its reliance on traditional marketing and demand generation.

 

The sales conversation has completely changed. “Traditionally, when you are generating demand and reacting to it, you are reacting to what the customer wants to find out from you,” explains Purcell. As a result, “you largely have feature/function/cost discussions, not value discussions around business optimization. Once you take a targeted, account-based approach, your conversations are around value.” This increases win rates and shortens the sales cycle—and it all starts with getting sales and marketing in alignment and collaborating.

 

Essential #2: Identify the right accounts. It is critical that companies take time at the outset of implementing an ABM strategy to determine which are the right accounts to pursue. It is not just about identifying prospects most likely to close or listing out those big, “wishful” accounts a company would love to add to its logo collection. It’s about figuring out the best fit with respect to size, potential revenue, cost of service, longevity, and many other factors.

 

Working together, Marketo’s sales and marketing teams came up with 100-200 attributes that contributed to an account’s appeal. “You can make your scoring as complicated or as easy as you want it and segment as broadly or narrowly as you want,” says Purcell. For Marketo, its list of attributes includes not only the more obvious markers such as industry, geography, and size but also likelihood of churn, likelihood of renewal, and dollar amount, etc. Marketo ABM evaluates those attributes to produce an account score—the higher the score, the better the possible fit between Marketo and the prospect. This scientific approach means Marketo is not pursuing what Purcell calls “idealistic, pie-in-the-sky” accounts, but customers that are truly the best fit for Marketo.

 

Based on the attributes, Marketo ABM scores accounts on a scale to 100. Last year, in its early days of ABM, Marketo went after any company with a score above 60. Today, the company limits its sales and marketing efforts to accounts with scores above 80, with most attention given to companies scoring 90 and above. “We know that companies with scores in this range have a three-times higher likelihood to close and at a  2.5 times greater selling price than those with scores under 80,” says Purcell.

 

Purcell likens the identification of the right target accounts to spear fishing. Let’s say a Marketo solution is a perfect fit for sharks, he says. By casting out a fishing net and dragging it through the sea—as its traditional lead generation approach used to do—sales had to spend a lot of time sifting out minnows and bass and other species that weren’t a good fit. This consumed significant resources and reduced the amount of effort that could be directed toward the sharks.

 

By identifying the best-fitting accounts—the 90+ scores—as part of its ABM strategy, Purcell says Marketo was able to shift “from fishing by net to fishing by spear. We can see into the water and bring only the sharks into the boat. We are much more efficient and effective as we are going after the right customers that have a higher likelihood to renew.”

 

Essential #3: Take a holistic approach. Purcell is a firm believer that ABM isn’t just a sales and/or a marketing strategy; it’s an approach that touches every department in every stage of the customer lifecycle. “It’s account-based selling, account-based supporting, account-based marketing,” says Purcell.  This holistic approach must necessarily start with marketing because that’s where the data resides that enables the forensic work done by sales and marketing to identify the ideal customer profile. From there, however, everything must loop out to include other customer-facing roles, so there is a constant cycle of cooperation, application, communication, and feedback. For instance, marketing builds an arsenal of tools to help anyone reaching out to interface with customers—but it can only do so with input from sales, and it must be ready to adjust those tools based on what the sales team is hearing in the market. Or customer support gets information from a customer which tweaks their account score, which changes how Marketo reaches out to interface with that customer.

 

As customer stories come in, as the market changes, as customer scores change—all this impacts how Marketo goes after customers, so all its departments must be in complete harmony and work from the same page, all the time. It enables the sales process to be repeatable and scalable so that as the company goes after new markets, it can roll out to scale on the customer-facing side of the business, in a coordinated and precisely targeted way, making it much more effective at communicating with its customers.

 

“With an ‘account-based marketing’ approach,” says Purcell, “everyone is rowing together in the same direction.” Companies implementing an ABM strategy must take this holistic view from the start, otherwise critical information won’t make it into the loop, causing an organization to miss the mark when targeting customers.

 

 

5 CRITICAL QUESTIONS

In addition to getting the three essentials right, Purcell says companies will radically boost their chances of ABM success by asking themselves—and answering—these five critical questions:

  1. What is our go-to-market strategy? Are we trying to capture more new business? Are we aiming to penetrate more deeply into our current accounts? Are we looking to expand into new channels or geographies? Gaining a clear understanding of the GTM strategy is imperative for sales and marketing.
  2. Who are your targeted accounts? Once you define how you are going to market, identify which accounts you want to win. These should include only those accounts that fit your ideal customer profile.
  3. What are we going to do once we engage those accounts? There are many sub-questions around this one. Some of the most important: What type of content are we going to provide to the account so they are most likely to convert? What is the number of touches we think will be needed to convert to revenue? Build the engagement process into playbooks, so it is repeatable and scalable.
  4. How will we roll out the target account list? As with any new approach, the roll-out plan for ABM as a whole and the list of target accounts must be prepared well in advance, so everyone is on board with the new strategy, understands its impact on their role, and is properly equipped to execute it.
  5. What is the cadence for inspection? Success in any new strategy depends on the examaniation of that strategy. Make sure you put in place a management cadence for inspecting revenue, pipeline and other critical measures of success to figure out what is working, what isn’t working and how to adjust accordingly.

 

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From Selling Power Solutions For Sales Management, Special Edition 2017

This blog was originalyl posted on Marketo's blog here.

By: Mike Telem

Posted: November 11, 2015 | Account-Based Marketing

 

Account-based marketing (ABM) may be the latest buzzword on every B2B marketer’s mind – but that doesn’t make it a new concept by any standard.

For years, companies have realized the importance of adopting an account-centric approach, concentrating their efforts on attracting target accounts that have particularly high strategic or financial value.

So, what’s changed? For one, the playing field is now largely digital. Long gone are the days where cold-calling and face-to-face meetings were the only option. Today, marketers have the opportunity to not only target, but also engage directly with the right people from the key accounts they’ve identified— and they are able to do this much earlier in the sales cycle.

A Quick ABM Refresher: Targeting Accounts That Matter Most

Before we dive into ABM’s digital transformation, here’s a quick refresher for anyone less familiar with the concept. Generally speaking, marketing strategies are often designed to reach and engage a relatively broad audience. Basically, marketers typically aim to attract as many leads as possible, and then move on to qualify them afterward.

ABM turns this approach on its head, and encourages marketers to map out strategic target accounts first, and then pursue those accounts using tailored content and personalized campaigns. Some liken this to fishing with net (broad-reach marketing) versus fishing with a harpoon (specific and focused).

The Evolution of ABM

Marketing and sales teams have been targeting lucrative enterprises since day one. The roots of ABM as we think of it today dates back to the 1990s, when companies started realizing the need to shift away from mass marketing and move toward customized campaigns that target individual customers.

Back then, it was nearly impossible to engage a prospect at the early stages of the buyer’s journey. For example, if a decision maker at a bank read an article in CIO magazine that referenced your company or they received a brochure from a friend recommending your software, you would never know. There was not the technology in place to capitalize on that expressed interest, or even know it was happening. There was no website for him to visit or, if there was, it likely didn’t have enough content.

At that point, companies often had to hope prospects would approach them independently. When it came to ABM in the 90s, cold calling, direct mail, industry events, or in-person meetings (which mostly revolved around sales, not marketing) were the only options. Although these activities are still very valid today, they tend to be more relevant for later stages of the sales and marketing funnel. Someone early in the awareness or interest phases likely won’t engage in these activities.

More recently, with the introduction and explosion of digital channels, a new world of account-based marketing options has emerged. Marketers now have the ability to know the company a prospect is from at the very first touch point—on their blog, website, or even ads. Now marketers can take that information and nurture this interest in real-time, using the most relevant content available.

Digital ABM: Harpoons? How About Laser Guns!

The concept of ABM, as we know it today, only began catching on in the 2000s, with the rise of demand generation and content marketing. Not surprisingly, the shift in marketing trends came hand-in-hand with another major change—the dawn of online product research.

Organizations began spending more of their time leveraging digital channels, such as websites, blogs, and videos, to educate visitors looking to learn about their products and services independently. If we fast forward to very recently, in 2014, the Acquity Group found that 94% of business buyers do some form or online research before making a purchase—with 84.3% checking business websites and 77% percent using Google search to learn more.

This surge of online research has led to the evolution of ABM and the transformation into its new digital form. This evolution has enabled marketers to implement real-time personalized account engagements as early as the awareness phases. The ability to directly engage with prospects at the earliest stages of their journey, while they’re just beginning to look into your product, is priceless. Real-Time Personalization can help identify specific individuals who belong to key accounts, and then effectively engage them by displaying the most relevant content, messages, and visuals to convert them, as well as alert relevant sales teams.

Unlike the early days of ABM, today, even if a prospect is anonymous and has never filled out a form or even visited your website, you can still know the details of their organization, based on reverse IP data, and target them with laser-sharp campaigns. Once they click through and reach your website, you can monitor which specific ads or channels they came from, and use this information to continue offering them content of interest.

The Future of ABM

The very fact that decision makers conduct research on digital channels has served as a boon for B2B marketers using ABM. It not only expands the number of options for connecting with prospects from strategic accounts, but it also enables us to engage with them from the very start of their journey.

In the past, ABM was primarily considered an outbound sales tactic; sales teams had no way to track the interest of their audience, and often relied on disruptive techniques to reach them. Digital ABM helps build a bridge between sales and marketing efforts, by letting companies pursue the “big fish” and target them with much more accurate laser guns, instead of the traditional nets, spears, or harpoons.

How have you taken your Account-Based Marketing to the next level? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Interested in learning more? Check out our webinar, Optimize Your Funnel With Account-Based Marketing.

This blog was originally posted on Marketo's Blog here.

By: Charm Bianchini

Posted: March 2, 2016 | Account-Based Marketing

 

What happens when B2B marketers from leading companies gather for a day? They talk about account-based marketing (ABM), of course! ABM has recently gained momentum in the B2B community as an alternative to traditional demand generation strategies. It is a strategic approach to lead generation in which your time and resources go into targeting a key group of specific accounts.

Last week, the FlipMyFunnel conference brought together some of the top digital marketers in the Bay Area for another stop in a multiple-city roadshow focused on account-based marketing (ABM) and sales.

Understanding what account-based marketing is, why it should be leveraged within marketing programs, and how to measure it effectively were key themes throughout the day. The agenda highlighted customers deploying various ABM programs as well as real struggles being experienced in this new ABM world. Let’s take a look at four key takeaways from the conference that will make an impact on your account-based marketing strategies:

1. The Funnel Must Be Flipped

Gone are the broad-based marketing days. Forrester Research states that less than 1% of leads turn into revenue generating customers. Because of this, it’s time to challenge the status quo and focus your time, budget, and resources on generating quality leads vs. quantity.

If you want to win and retain certain key accounts, you need to utilize ABM. The old lead funnel with Awareness, Interest, Consideration, and Purchase as funnel stages needs to shift toward an ABM-focused one with Identify, Expand, Engage, and Advocate as the funnel stages. Since we sell to accounts and multiple people within accounts, using ABM to identify and engage the right people in target accounts will help you increase pipeline and improve sales and marketing alignment. While your funnel might be smaller at the top, it will yield more qualified leads in companies that you care about in the long run.

flipfunnel

2. Pick a Level of ABM to Execute

Deploy the type of ABM programs that work best for your company. What does that mean? There are different types of ABM and one might be a better fit for your marketing strategy and goals. You may want to concentrate on a handful of large accounts and dive deep into an ABM strategy, take a few hundred accounts to do targeted marketing to, or fold your ABM accounts into your existing marketing programs. Spend time on working with sales to select the right accounts and execute marketing programs across various channels for maximum ROI. And you don’t have to master ABM in a day. Prevent yourself and your team from getting overwhelmed by starting small and growing from there. You need to implement ABM in a way thatworks for you and your organization.

3. Select the Right Technology

The conference asked all speakers to list the technologies they are using to execute ABM programs. It’s nice to see marketers are not on their own. Many technologies today make the delivery of ABM scalable and precise. FlipMyFunnel published an ABM stack outlining more than 900 technology vendors to assist the ABM marketer. At the center of the technology stack are marketing automation platforms, like Marketo, that track account insights and engagement, and enable companies to create personalized relationships with their buyers. If you’re just getting started with an ABM strategy, start by evaluating your technology stack and make sure you are leveraging the right technologies to conduct and optimize your ABM programs.

4. Optimize and Measure

Launching an account-based marketing program can be hard, but measuring your results can often be more challenging. But, especially with a new strategy and program, measurement is critical to optimizing and ultimately growing your program. Track the funnel flow starting from the top of the funnel to discover incoming accounts and early results. Some metrics to consider include new names, account engagement, conversion rates, meetings, pipeline, velocity, opportunities, and closed revenue. In addition to tracking key metrics, an important part of ABM is getting regular feedback from sales and collaborating with them on new ideas for optimization. So set goals, A/B test, learn from the results,and iterate.

To learn more about how to get started on ABM, check out our ebook: A Recipe For Lean Account-Based Marketing. And to discover how Marketo is using it today, come watch my presentation, Account-Based Marketing: Marketo’s Collaborative Approach, at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit.

This blog was originally posted on Marketo's blog here.

By: Amar Doshi

Posted: March 16, 2016 | Account-Based Marketing

 

There’s a lot of talk around account-based marketing (ABM) in the B2B marketing realm and for good reason. ABM is an effective account-centric approach that targets high-yield accounts, and while it’s not a new concept (it’s a practice followed since the 1990s), it’s receiving renewed interest among B2B marketers due to technology trends that are digitizing the execution of ABM strategy.

Before, ABM was an extremely high-cost endeavor that represented a significant drain on budget and human resources. Creating segmented marketing tracks, surfacing personalized content, and reacting to individual prospect’s behaviors was all done manually and could only be supported for a small subsection of highly strategic, tier 1 accounts.

But the ability to access and make sense of new data sources, and automate key marketing activities, has made ABM a strategy that is implementable across the full spectrum of a company’s target market. Below, we’ll explore how three major technology trends have made ABM execution more efficient and scalable:

1. Visibility of Digital Footprints

Over the past decade, an increasing amount of content about B2B products has become available online. Increasing inbound marketing efforts have accelerated a buyer’s access to product specifications, deployment plans, and user reviews. At the same time, a significant amount of research by B2B buyers is being done through publisher sites, buying guide portals, technical comparison sites, social sites, and a vendor’s own website. This data explosion has created a treasure trove of digital footprints left behind by potential customers engaging with content and has allowed companies to gain visibility into the buying behaviors of target accounts. ABM strategies are built on a company’s very ability to build target account lists based on the business needs and challenges they are uniquely positioned to address, so this new access to buyer activity and data allows marketers to identify more accounts with greater precision.

2. Processing Power of Big Data: Technology to Distinguish Signal from Noise

According to ITSMA, 85% of marketers feel that understanding their buyers is their primary responsibility. Big data analytics can help marketers achieve this goal. For every piece of digital information that is predictive of buying intent, there are hundreds of data points that are just noise. Advancements in technology now allow for the efficient analysis of a great volume, variety, and velocity of information generated from online and offline interactions. This development has made it possible to glean valuable and actionable insights for B2B marketing and sales teams from mountains of data that indicate whether an account has a need and is in the market to buy your product.

For the B2B account scenario, this is especially important given that every product has a different buying cycle, in terms of both research and purchase. The buying cycle involves thorough research from a buying committee as opposed to a single buyer within an account, and it requires time-sensitive analysis from marketers to react to these behaviors and take action at the right moment. This is where predictive intelligence solutions that focus on time and need identification at the account level are crucial to inform account-based marketing campaigns. A well executed ABM strategy represents an orchestrated omni-channel marketing effort that leverages different channels–such as media campaigns, display advertising, email nurturing, outbound sales prospecting, and offline events–and insights driven by predictive intelligence to inform and improve the customer experience and conversion rates of every downstream marketing and sales process.

3. Automated Workflows and Campaign Execution

With MarTech companies tracked by Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic nearing 2,000 companies as of the last count, there is an ocean of technology-enabled automation that marketers can use to act on account insights and predictions gleaned from predictive intelligence at every stage of the funnel. From real-time web personalization and programmatic ad buying, to automated dialers and auto-qualified leads–there isn’t a single workflow within online or offline account-based marketing strategies that will not be influenced by data insights and marketing automation. While data insights improve decision-making for targeting and messaging on everything from display advertising to email, marketing automation enables these actions to happen seamlessly as customer data enters and flows through your system.

Given the dynamic nature of B2B sales, having static target account lists constrains the impact of any ABM strategy. With the technology trends above, the concept of a dynamic target account list is now a reality. Predictive intelligence and marketing automation technology work in parallel to enable account-based marketing and sales efforts to become both time-based and need-based. Data-driven insights allow marketing teams to continuously monitor and hone what activities represent true buying intent and which accounts are exhibiting them most strongly, and marketing automation allows these insights to influence which accounts receive what messaging and when. This combined approach facilitates the right sales conversations for B2B buyers and vendors, while minimizing effort and money spent on target accounts that are not in-market to buy.

Interested in learning more about how predictive intelligence and marketing automation is helping customers execute ABM? Register now to join us on March 17th at 10am PT for our webinar Predictive & Marketing Automation: Making Account-Based Marketing Work.

This blog was originally posted on Marketo's Blog here.

By: Vyoma Kapur

Posted: June 27, 2016 | Account-Based Marketing

 

Welcome to Shark Week! This week, people from all over the world are tuning into content programming dedicated to—yep, you guessed it—sharks. This follows the well-timed release of The Shallows, a movie about a lone surfer’s survival attempts against a shark attack.

With the fascination surrounding these mysterious creatures of the sea, I’d like to draw some parallels from the underwater ecosystem to our very own marketing ecosystem. After all, as marketers, it’s in our genes to keep abreast of and ride the wave of (pun intended) trending topics.

So, how are marketers like the giants of the ocean—sharks and whales? The similarity lies in our “feeding” habits. Sharks find a specific target and then spend time hunting it down, similar to account-based marketing (ABM), in which an organization identifies a number of target accounts and dedicates sales and marketing resources to penetrate and close them. On the other hand, whales, specifically baleen whales, swim with their mouths open, taking in large amounts of water that contain tiny creatures. This is evocative of the traditional demand generation approach, with broad-reaching techniques that focus on generating and engaging a large number of qualified leads based on their attributes to move them further down the funnel and eventually close them.

Ultimately, whether you’re most like a shark or whale will depend on your objectives and nature of your business. In fact, both species are critical to the ecosystem, just like most B2B organizations need an optimal mix of both broad-reaching and targeted strategies to achieve their different goals.

Let’s take a look at three differences between sharks and whales, and how they can help guide your marketing strategy:

1. Inbound vs. Outbound

Whales eat by swimming with their mouths open toward their prey. Both food and water enter their mouths, and they squeeze out the water out through their baleen. Similarly, with a broad-based marketing approach, marketers use different campaigns to generate leads, including a variety of inbound tactics such as paid advertising, SEO, and webinars, which are then filtered by scoring systems based on desirable attributes determined by audience personas.

On the other hand, when a shark is hungry, it uses its different senses to hunt down its prey, rather than waiting for the prey to flow through its mouth. Just like sharks, marketers employing an account-based marketing approach use different signals to identify their targets and directly market to them. These might be the “big fish” accounts—accounts that are likely to results in large deals, or accounts that fit specific parameters like company size, industry, technologies used, etc. In ABM, since the focus is on a specific set of accounts, marketing efforts are outbound and personalized, tailoring specific content to those targets. Some examples include direct mail, database emails, and calling campaigns. In ABM, there is a smaller need for filtering since that has been done during the account selection phase, although leads are still scored based on their decision-making ability and other factors.

2. Different Success Metrics

At the end of the day, both sharks and whales need to eat to survive, just like the end goal for both ABM and broad-based marketing is to generate revenue. However, while whales need to consume large numbers of fish, squid, and other tiny creatures like plankton to survive, sharks are more attracted to fewer, larger creatures.

The interim goals and success metrics for marketers can be different as well, based on the approach they use. Marketers who use a broad-based marketing approach may measure lead quantity and quality, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), and opportunities created. Whereas, ABM marketers may prioritize meetings, average selling prices (ASPs), win rate, velocity, and account penetration metrics. This is because the broad-based marketing funnel is different from the ABM funnel, which is flipped—the stages in the former revolving around awareness, interest, consideration, and purchase and the latter comprising of identify, expand, engage, and advocate.

3. Different Tools

While most sharks are equipped with rows and rows of sharp teeth and jaws that can unhinge to extend their reach while attacking, some breeds of whales don’t even have teeth. What they do have, however, are baleen plates that act as a filter to squeeze out water and other unwanted materials.

Comparably, to survive in today’s competitive landscape, you need the right technology platforms and tools to automate, score, personalize, measure, and optimize your campaigns. However, there are specific tools that you need to implement and carry out ABM effectively. ABM solutions, whether from a specific vendor or within a complete marketing automation platform, like Marketo’s, enable both marketing and sales teams to get a 360-degree account-level view and aggregate the engagement and actions of leads within a specific account. Broad-based marketing tools, which may be one in the same with the right solution, generally have a lead-level view, enabling marketers to assess and score leads based on multiple demographic and behavioral data.

There are plenty of fish in the sea, but the key to reeling them in lies in your marketing strategy. Whether you choose to be a shark or whale or a hybrid of both depends on your goals. At the end of the day, one thing is for certain—your customer is the king of the sea. And while this does not apply to the unsuspecting and ill-fated prey of sharks and whales, prioritizing customer experience above all else is an essential practice to be successful.

What other similarities do you see between marketers and sharks or whales? Share your observations in the comments below!

http://blog.marketo.com/2016/06/marketers-are-you-a-shark-or-whale-in-the-marketing-ecosystem.html?utm_campaign=communityabm