Sales & Marketing Alignment For Account-Based Marketing Success
Written by Fes Askari
May 8 2017
What does true sales and marketing alignment look like? Why is alignment key to account-based marketing success?
Why Aligning Sales & Marketing Is Key To Account-Based Marketing Success
How aligned are your sales and marketing teams?
Simply swapping the occasional report, or catching up on a monthly basis isn’t enough. To achieve real success in your inbound and account-based marketing campaigns, your Sales & Marketing teams must be truly aligned on the customer. Both teams must have shared clarity on campaign goals, objectives and key account focus; and should collaborate to share insight and focus resource in the right places to identify, engage and expand account relationships.
Knowing that, would you consider your alignment to be effective?
How aligned are your sales and marketing teams? Simply swapping the occasional report, or catching up on a monthly basis isn’t enough.
Sales and Marketing Alignment from Inbound to ABM
For Strategic as an agency, sales and marketing alignment is something we advocate across all our activities as it’s core for both inbound and account-based marketing success:
By aligning our teams with a closed-loop marketing automation platform and CRM (HubSpot), each side of the business has access to lead insight and marketing data; enabling our sales team and allowing the business as a whole to make more informed choices on lead priority, strategy, content direction and more.
This alignment works from an inbound level up; by using inbound as a base strategy for our wider demand generation, lead nurture and qualification, we can build into ABM; using our inbound lead pool to identify high propensity ABM-worthy accounts.
As a result of this, our sales and marketing teams are quickly aligned on who our highest value opportunities are (and who our key account targets should be). When the time is right, this means we can evolve from inbound nurture activities to a more targeted account-based approach and expand those relationships.
Without strong alignment, implementing an account-based strategy that achieves real results would be near impossible. So how can you better align your teams for ABM success?
How To Achieve Effective Sales/Marketing Alignment in ABM
1. Use Marketing Automation To Align Your Teams
An integrated marketing automation platform and CRM is the key to giving your marketing and sales teams the closed-loop insight they need to co-ordinate. At Strategic, everyone in the business uses HubSpot’s Marketing, Sales and CRM platforms. This means we all have a clear reference for campaign KPIs and goals, can access the lead insight and reporting data to see which leads are worth considering for ABM and can see what activities are working (or not). With regular meetings, sales and marketing can use their shared insight to ensure strategies are on track and adapt where needed.
An integrated marketing automation platform and CRM is the key to giving your marketing and sales teams the closed-loop insight they need to co-ordinate.
2. Focus On Lead Qualification Together
Deciding responsibilities for leads throughout the funnel is a big part of effective alignment. With an integrated marketing automation platform and CRM in place, teams have more lead insight than ever before; allowing for better decisions on lead qualification, hand-off and nurture.
At an inbound level this minimises disputes over lead qualification as each team member can see whether a lead is a Good/Poor fit, or High/Low interest, so can identify where next actions and responsibilities (sales follow up, marketing nurture etc) sit.
At an account-based level, combined clarity over lead qualification allows sales and marketing to work together to identify high-propensity, high-value accounts - appropriate candidates for bespoke ABM activity.
3. Collaborate On Content & CVP Development
For content to resonate (but especially for bespoke account-based content to resonate) your marketing team must use sales feedback and insight development (social listening, sales conversations, other insight into lead/account challenges) to inform content.
For example at Strategic, our sales and marketing teams catch up on a weekly basis; marketing lets sales know about newly published content and sales provides insight into new content requirements (that will help them progress MQLs to SQL). The sales team will also share insight into any account-specific, personalised content that’s needed for them to expand their relationships with key accounts.
We also leverage 3rd party data and combine with the above to shape optimium customer value propositions (CVPs), by developing an understanding of an account's challenges and relevant business opportunites.
At Strategic, our sales and marketing teams catch up on a weekly basis; marketing lets sales know about newly published content and sales provides insight into new content requirements.
4. Co-ordinate on Nurture Activity
Effective lead nurture should be a team effort in both inbound and ABM campaigns. With a sales team enabled with marketing’s lead data and a marketing team enabled with additional sales insight, it’s possible to align for more tailored, personalised lead nurture.
For example, in account-based campaigns, sales and marketing might align to create blogs, one-to-one videos or other content assets that address a target account’s challenges directly, or might collaborate on sales assets such as personalised landing pages, or direct messaging for that unique account. Of course personalising nurture resources in this way is not sustainable across your wider lead database. But in the case of specific (high-value, high-propensity) account opportunities, it’s worth the investment.
5. Agree On ABM Opportunities Together
If you already have an inbound campaign in place to generate your wider persona-focussed leads, you have the foundations to progress to ABM. Reviewing this relevant lead pool together, sales and marketing should align to identify and expand high-propensity, high-value ABM targets, then coordinate on the campaign activity and nurture required to evolve specific account relationships.
Stronger Alignment Means Greater Insight For More Targeted Strategies
For the team at Strategic, prioritising alignment helps us enhance efficiencies across marketing and sales, resulting in more effective, customer-centric campaigns.
Whether you’re implementing an inbound or account-based marketing campaign (and often a blend of both is best) strengthening your marketing/sales alignment is the key to greater insight; allowing a more in-depth understanding of your buyer’s challenges for more personalised, resonant sales and marketing campaigns.