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Building the Muscle of Sales Effectiveness

What do Marketing and Sales need from each other to deliver on the promise of ABM? Read on to find out.

Marketers comparing information around engagement and account activities

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We’ll be discussing the data and sharing proven methods for increasing sales effectiveness with ABM.

Sales don’t happen without a level of trust between the buyer and the seller.

For decades, B2B companies have looked to account based marketing (ABM) as a means to build buyer trust while improving the efficiency and efficacy of the sales process.

A central tenet of ABM is that when Marketing and Sales work together toward shared revenue goals, they can create meaningful buyer experiences that result in long-lasting relationships that drive sustainable growth.

But what does that alignment really look like?

To find out, we surveyed more than 400 B2B sales and marketing decision makers. Our research provides new insight into how the most successful organizations view ABM, what they’re getting out of it, and where there’s still room to improve.

Explore the report to discover:

We surveyed just over 400 sales and marketing decision makers at B2B companies with $100 million to $5 billion in revenue. In analyzing the data, we judged “effectiveness” as annual revenue growth of 11%-40% (i.e., high growth).

The Foundation

Marketing and Sales are aligned on the fundamentals.

One of the prerequisites of an effective ABM approach is a common vision of what ABM is and why it’s important to the organization. Without alignment at this primary level, creating shared processes and KPIs is next to impossible.

With that in mind, we weren’t surprised to find that high growth marketers and sellers tend to agree on the definition and the top objective of ABM.

High growth marketers and sellers agree that:

1

ABM is a strategic approach where sales and marketing efforts are focused on targeting specific set accounts, rather than the broader market.

The primary objectives of ABM are to drive better sales and marketing alignment and drive efficiency with more measurable ROI and cost containment.

The Outcomes

ABM leads to better alignment, revenue efficiency, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

ABM takes time to get right—but taking that time can be challenging when there is pressure to deliver results. Our research confirms that being patient is worth it. Marketers and sellers across all levels at high growth companies are deriving value from their ABM programs in three key areas. 

High growth companies are setting alignment as a company goal and as they achieve the goal, they are seeing the tangible benefits

Sales

51%

Drove better alignment with Marketing

Marketing

47%

Drove better alignment with Sales

% of respondents in each function that ranked alignment with the other team among their top three benefits of ABM.

Shared understanding of which accounts, segments and audiences are the most likely to turn into high-value customers leads to more efficient targeting, more qualified leads in the funnel and faster conversions. 

Sure enough, marketers and sellers at high growth companies are seeing these results.

Sales

45%

Maximized expansion (upsell/cross‑sell) business

Marketing

58%

Improved funnel velocity and/or conversion rates

% of respondents in each department that ranked these benefits among their top three benefits of ABM.

Continuing to take an ABM approach after buyers become customers leads to long-term loyalty and advocacy. Satisfied customers are more likely to continue doing business with the company, renew contracts and potentially increase their spending over time—leading back to even more revenue efficiency!

Sales

42%

ABM improved account retention

Marketing

44%

ABM enhanced customer experience

% of respondents in each department that ranked these benefits among their top three benefits of ABM.

The Gaps

Four areas where Marketing and Sales can work together to increase sales effectiveness.

ABM is a precision methodology. Small adjustments can have an outsized impact on program efficiency and ROI. We asked both groups what they need from each other to be more effective in their ABM efforts.

Here’s what they said.

01. Targeting and account planning.

Careful, collaborative segment targeting and account planning are critical for ABM effectiveness. If you don’t set out targeting the accounts and buyers with the highest propensity to buy, then you’ll be wasting resources on non-buyers.

Sales, Marketing
53%
of Sales want Marketing to collaborate on detailed account planning

Both Marketing and Sales identified account planning as a weak point in their ABM programs—with 55% of Marketers and 53% of Sales selecting “target accounts assigned to sellers don’t match Marketing’s targeting approach” among their top 5 barriers to ABM effectiveness. No wonder Sales respondents also identified collaboration on detailed account planning as one of their top needs from Marketing.

How to do it better.

Before setting up any target account lists in your ABM tool, bring Marketing and Sales together to develop a shared understanding of your ideal customer profile (ICP) for the ABM program.

02. Data accuracy.

Marketing combines understanding of account firmographics and account activity to effectively plan, analyze and optimize campaigns. 

The most effective account based marketers are continually monitoring account engagement and developing highly targeted activations to accelerate the journey. Missing, inaccurate or outdated information can lead to duplicative, irrelevant, or overly frequent communications that waste resources and damage hard-won buyer relationships.

Marketing, Sales
58%
of Marketers need Sales to regularly update accurate account and contact data in the CRM

How to do it better.

There are many reasons why Marketing may not be getting timely, accurate account data. Take these steps to identify the barrier—and remove it.

03. Messaging and content.

Being able to articulate how you solve your audience’s biggest challenges, in language they understand, is the best way to capture and hold a buyer’s attention. But both Marketing (46%) and Sales (51%) noted challenges scaling personalization and an increased dependence on content as a top drawback to ABM. Working together, Sales and Marketing have an opportunity to overcome that challenge.

Sales, Marketing
50%
of Sales would like Marketing to provide more personalized content and messaging

WHY SALES NEEDS THIS

Sellers with access to targeted content that spans the buying journey and answers the questions buyers have can progress accounts along on their journey. Without these pieces, they must send something generic, overly broad, or nothing at all.

Marketing, Sales
55%
of Marketing would like Sales to be involved in the content creation process

WHY MARKETING NEEDS THIS

Marketers don’t always have the insights into which members of the buying group can make and break the deal, what they care about and what information they need to move the opportunity forward. These Sales insights are invaluable for Marketing to create meaningful and authentic messages and content.

How to do it better.

Help Sales quickly and confidently send out compelling, on-brand communications and assets with:

04. Actionable insights.

Marketing and Sales each hold unique knowledge that can help the other team dramatically increase effectiveness—but regular touch points are necessary to ensure each team gets what they need.

Sales, Marketing
50%
of Sales wants Marketing to provide account insights based on account activity

To effectively prioritize outreach, Sales needs to know:

Marketing, Sales
53%
of Marketing want Sales to provide a feedback loop on what is working and the quality of opportunities and insights

To effectively optimize campaigns, Marketing needs to know:

How to do it better.

Both of these gaps illustrate a need for planned touchpoints and more structured communication between Marketing and Sales.

The biggest thing you can do to improve sales effectiveness.

One of the top barriers to Marketing and Sales alignment has been lack of buy-in for a one-team approach. Our research shows this is no longer the case in the highest growth companies. It also shows that valuing alignment is not the same as operating in a fully aligned fashion.

Building the muscle of sales effectiveness requires regular cross-team collaboration, and both Marketing and Sales must bring the same urgency, transparency and creativity that they apply within their own functions to the shared table. Only then will they be able to operate as a single team with shared objectives, KPIs and joint responsibility for achieving revenue goals.

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