So, Your Company Is Implementing an ABM-Based Strategy

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Marketo Employee

So, Your Company Is Implementing an ABM-Based Strategy

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