Account Based Sales and Marketing is a strategic approach to B2B market penetration that integrates the sales and marketing go to market process.
Most B2B organizations cast a wide net and then try to sort through the catch for qualified sales opportunities. While this approach does not require a great deal of sophistication to spend dollars and execute marketing programs, it is highly dependent upon “figuring out what’s good” after the fact. A lot of finger pointing occurs between sales and marketing in this approach as the sales pipeline is frequently inadequate to meet or exceed sales targets.
At the heart of account based sales and marketing is segmentation. Account based sales and marketing requires the sales and marketing teams to work together to develop an upstream strategic sales and marketing plan that targets prospects that have a high propensity to realize value from the offering. In this approach, marketing can only generate an MQL.
Account based sales and marketing also requires B2B sales and marketing teams to understand, agree upon and document the following:
Account Based Sales & Marketing – Business Outcomes
In account based sales and marketing, it is critical to document the desired positive business outcome for a prospect and why it is compelling.
Organizations have numerous priorities and there will be many technology requests. The mindset has to be, “Why will this proposal be selected out of a stack and why should an organization spend six or seven digits of its budget on this offering?”
If an organization does not know what it is selling or why it is compelling, there should be minimal investment in sales and marketing – nail it, then scale it.
Account Based Sales & Marketing – Who is Impacted
What functions (sales, marketing, finance, HR, IT) are impacted by the business outcome and why would they embrace a solution?
It’s important to understand who is impacted and to focus the impact as well. In general there are typically two functions impacted by a B2B technology purchase. For example, marketing may lead a CRM purchase but IT may need to validate or vet the technology purchase decision.
Account Based Sales & Marketing – Specific Companies
What are the names of the specific companies assumed to have a high propensity to purchase the offering?
This is where 99% of B2B companies fail. All too often companies think they sell to everyone or the Global 2000. In almost all situations that is a huge mistake. Marketing and sales need to sit down and document the specific demographic, financial, social, psychographic and behavioral factors that will positively identify a prospect highly likely to realize value from the unique selling proposition.
This list then needs to be methodically digested.
Account Based Sales & Marketing – Customer Buying Process
What is the customer buying process – how will a decision be made and who is involved?
Sales and marketing must be on the same page when it comes to the strategic and operational benefits a customer will realize. And, this has to be further segmented by technical and business aspects. The goal is to communicate the strategic business value to strategic business audiences and so on. Otherwise, prospects will either be confused or ignore the generic messages that are not tailored towards them. In the worst case scenario, the sales and marketing will prime the pump for competitors that do offer real value.
Account Based Sales & Marketing – How to Access
How to access the individuals (approver, decision maker, recommenders, influencers and sniper) in the customer buying process?
Individuals who have solved the same or a similar problem will tend to rely on previous personal experience to solve problems. That’s why the incumbent is difficult to displace.
When no direct personal experience is available, individuals tend to rely on their peers for advice – they may have personal experience that can be passed on.
Next, individuals trust certain analysts, influencers, consortiums, reports, etc. and will default to these trusted sources when the above resources are not available.
Buyers can also be persuaded by individuals, businesses or situations that appear to be like them—this is known as persuasion theory. In the absence of direct experience, peers or trusted sources, individuals will gravitate toward someone or thing that looks like them. If the information, person or situation feels comfortable, a level of comfort and acceptance is created.
The final scenario is ready, willing and able. This is when all the stars align and the right person, conversation, email, collateral, signage, phone call or whatever surfaces at exactly the right moment. These opportunities are sometimes referred to as bluebirds but are the exception and not the rule.
The Benefits of Account Based Sales & Marketing
- Fishing in a barrel – every company identified and included in the prospect database meets specific criteria that is aligned with targeted named account lists.
- True alignment and focus between sales and marketing – i.e. they are both focused on the same end goal — engaging with a prospect with a high propensity to purchase.
A systematic and methodical approach to penetrating the market by bringing to closure each targeted company.
- Efficient and effective marketing spend as dollars are channeled to the targeted list of companies the sales team is focused on penetrating and on nothing else.
- The buying process is documented, providing a tight framework for the persona development and content marketing.
Summing Up Account Based Sales & Marketing
Account based sales and marketing is appropriate for B2B organizations that are very focused on executing a specific go to market plan. A prerequisite is that a fundamentally sound go to market plan exists and is based on go to market fundamentals: use cases, differentiation, value drivers and compelling sales messages. In short, account based sales and marketing requires an organization to think before it does (requiring more work upfront but much less on the back end) but it allows all go to market resources to be focused on penetrating a target set of accounts.