How does sales and marketing change in a downturn? We look at the strategic defensive and offensive moves companies should take in the current environment - and why now is the time for ABM.
What Approach Should Sales and Marketing Take Right Now?
We’re all finding our way in this new world. What was normality just a few weeks ago is now a distant (and longed for) past.
We’re adaptive and flexible animals. We’ve had to evolve and survive. This is just one more test of the human species and how we adapt and succeed will say much about us.
While governments across the world act to safeguard their citizens and economies, businesses are rapidly regrouping, retooling and ensuring not only their survival but also their ability to come out of the current crisis ready to grow. Those organisations that demonstrate the most agility will likely be the stronger on the other side.
The last few weeks have seen many of us in B2B sales and marketing questioning whether we should be selling and marketing right now. One of my recent LinkedIn posts discussed this and I advocated that we should be - but just in a different way showing empathy - and being authentic.
We’re all in this together and we’ll get through this together.
How Sales and Marketing Changes in a Downturn
In every downturn companies adjust (cut their cloth…) to the circumstances. Training, marketing, headcount - these are typically the areas to be cut.
It is your people that will get you through this. The better trained they are the better they will perform.
In every downturn companies adjust to the circumstances. Training, marketing, headcount - these are typically the areas to be cut. All counterintuitive. It is your people that will get you through this.
The more (and better) marketing you do the more chance you have to survive and thrive once any crisis or downturn ends. Study after study shows that those who cut most, struggle to survive once economies pick up.
Like many people working in B2B Sales and Marketing, I’m hungry for information, news, tips, techniques, strategies. A recent piece I read by consultants Bain & Company caught my eye with their “A Coronavirus Action Plan for B2B Sales” which consisted of a series of defensive and offensive moves companies should be taking in the current environment.
The one thing that struck me when reading the article and the “moves” was how much it resonated with Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and the use of data.
Why Now is the Time for ABM
ABM has been the hot topic for the last few years with 2020 predicted to be the year that ABM went “mainstream”. There are many reasons for this. Ultimately, organisations are looking to work more effectively together, remove silos and deliver on their digital transformation agenda.
ABM offers organisations the ability to do this in a very targeted and measurable way. ABM is an organisation-wide strategy (as opposed to a sales or marketing one).
While many organisations may delay purchase decisions over the coming months they will continue to assess vendors and prepare for when “normal working conditions” return.
ABM provides the opportunity to:
Focus your spend - only spend on target accounts
Drive preference in target accounts (be they customers or prospects)
Build your organisation’s reputation (brand)
Expand the Decision Making Units (DMUs) within your target accounts
Build long-lasting relationships that will be there when normality returns
Build a referral and advocate network
Develop an accelerated pipeline of “good-fit” deals
Sell new services
Increase your win rate and deal size
Align your teams, data and processes
Ultimately, organisations are looking to work more effectively together, remove silos and deliver on their digital transformation agenda.
ABM offers organisations the ability to do this in a very targeted and measurable way.
Consider your Offensive and Defensive Moves
The Bain & Company article (Coronavirus Action Plan for B2B Sales) suggested several defensive and offensive moves to secure key sales (and marketing) objectives.
Here’s a summary with how we see ABM answering many of these questions.
Data-led review of revenue opportunities
Focus your effort and spend on these
Build an internal team (not just sales - bring in marketing, ops, etc.) to support the sales efforts
Data-led due diligence of your sales pipeline - by customer, product, geography, etc.
Bring in the big guns and build a team to focus on those opportunities closest to close
First, second and third-party data will inform your account selection and targeting strategy
Cross-departmental teams (Sales, Marketing, Ops, Customer Success) are what makes ABM so powerful - we’re all in this together - silos suck - agility and knowledge sharing counts!
Review your digital presence - focus on BOFU experience
Engage every strategic account and build stronger relationships
Review your offering - is it fit for the current situation?
Help your customers - show them that you are there in this difficult time
Be honest with your customers and how your service/offering may be affected
Re-tool your offering - what will work in the current environment?
ABM focuses on the 3Rs: Reputation, Relationships and Revenue
ABM builds lasting relationships across the entire DMU (and beyond)
ABM allows you to reach the right people with the right message - particularly important now
Review channels and optimise for best ROI
Justify every $ spent
Review sales capacity to match sales opportunities
Protect your prices
Invest in your most strategic customers
Review focus of new vs. existing accounts (lean more to existing)
Increase spend on digital channels
ABM invests in going deep and wide in your current and most important clients
ABM allows you to deploy innovative digital strategies and tactics to inform and engage
ABM is all about personalisation - getting under the skin of your customers
You’ve got the tech - now let’s use it properly
Re-configure your sales journeys
Re-think your messaging and approach
Give your sales teams the tools and data insights they need to succeed
Face-to-face is dead - rearm your sales teams to go virtual
Help your customers to work more efficiently and effectively with you
ABM deploys data in an intelligent and agile way to inform sales
ABM harnesses your own data (first-party) with third-party intent data to target those customers (and prospects) that are actively looking to buy
ABM informs your content and messaging strategy - particularly important at the moment
What To Consider When Starting ABM
ABM allows you to reach the right people with the right message - particularly important now.
As we adjust and adapt to these turbulent times, both personally and professionally, it's important to maintain perspective. The core foundations of truly successful marketing and sales campaigns remain the same; campaigns that win out long term, will be those that;
Focus on reaching the right people, with the right messages, in the right places.
Prioritise team (and campaign) agility and communication - and keep every area of the business aligned on priorities.
Use data and insights to recognise audiences as real people - and ensure teams have the first, second and third-party data toolkit they need to personalise accordingly.
Use data and insights to focus and invest in the most strategic opportunities.
Get close to your best customers and understand what’s driving their decision making - then overlay this with your data to shape messaging, content and campaign strategy.
When we consider coming out the other side of a crisis, those organisations who stand the test of time, will be those who provide clients - and the wider marketplace - with guidance and assistance.
Now more than ever focus on your customers, help them through this crisis and you will come out stronger.