Advancing ABM’s Role as a Sales Enabler

Michael McGoldrick
Michael McGoldrick  |  September 9, 2019

In an age when modern marketing dominates content and conversations, tried-and-tested tactics like inside sales are often left out.

Inside sales has been a critical success factor for winning B2B companies. This success has also created key challenges that can limit future scale. The reality is that fewer than one percent of leads typically become sales qualified lead.

With this history, most organizations struggle to realize the value of most leads because few are ever even followed up upon. Account-based marketing (ABM) can help you break through this paradigm and deliver more leads that your sales team will find actionable and of value.

ABM’s role as a sales enabler

While inside sales proves its value time and time again, it has limits. Typically, sales reps identify a decision maker to reach out to and consolidate all their efforts into this individual. Such an approach yields meagre results as enterprise organizations often have multiple stakeholders who feed into the purchase decision process. This is especially the case with big ticket B2B items such as SaaS and PaaS, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Enter ABM.

ABM can solve this challenge by focusing on a buying center as opposed to a sole decision-maker. Aligning sales and marketing throughout the sales funnel, ABM offers an alternative to B2B marketers who wish to be more strategic in their efforts. The result is a separate marketing strategy is designed for each account by targeting its own unique pain points, rather than the same message blanketing the decision-making chain.

And although the concept of account-based marketing has been around for decades, the emergence of advanced marketing technologies has created a new opportunity for marketing and sales to scale personalization beyond where it has in the past, advancing ABM’s role as a sales enabler.

The new rules of ABM engagement

By building a deeper understanding of an account’s needs and buying status through individualized contact, prospects who may not be ready to buy can be nurtured and developed into longer term opportunities. Additionally, insights captured during each interaction or engagement enable sales to develop their account insights and refine and improve communications and account specific propositions over time.

When your sales team is aware of the accounts that are in an active buying position, what they’re researching and where they are in the buyer’s journey, they’ll know not only who to target, but how to engage with them. This coordination and collaboration are precisely the solutions to deliver consistent, high-value information to each target account.

To maximize sales engagement potential, package target account leads with a full picture of other recent leads, sales and marketing response trends across channels and topics of interest demonstrated, allows inside sales to engage more quickly, have better conversations and convert opportunities to pipeline revenue faster.

Breaking through the sales and marketing alignment impasse

An understanding an account’s needs is a key aspect in ABM, so that vendors can deliver products and solutions tuned to those specific needs at the right time. ABM aims to take an integrated approach to ensure top accounts receive personalized service and a consistent experience across multiple touch points in the customer buying journey.

Achieving this level of cohesion requires an aligned approach between sales and marketing, which is not always easy to achieve. The emphasis on insight and customer knowledge within an ABM approach requires a greater involvement by marketing at an early stage to inform sales account strategy. This aligns perfectly with the role of inside sales, informing ongoing strategy and highlighting account development priorities, which can align sales and marketing resource and activity. 

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ABM requires unified action and consistent messaging across channels. Given its flexibility, inside sales is easily integrated amongst other channels and activities, therefore providing a unifying force between sales and marketing functions. In addition, the fact that it can deliver higher quality leads with enhanced levels of insight and a larger propensity to convert, increases the assurance sales has in marketing effort.

And while inside sales can be a short term tactic to initiate response, it can also support the longer term pipeline, continuing a dialogue throughout a lengthy B2B sales cycle.

Unlocking the power of data

The power of data is abundantly clear in today’s digital market. Fifty-three percent of high performing companies actively use data. And while most companies already utilize historical market information to develop detailed views of purchasing patterns, advancements in technology are pushing the power of data further, by introducing lead-scoring algorithms based on detailed and granular data sets on each of their prospects. 

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Internal data sources on an account’s previous history can be combined with rich external data such as news reports or social media to generate a truly unified view of an account.

These algorithms can then predict which factors really matter in lead conversion and guide a sales strategy accordingly. As these greater predictive insights are combined with account based marketing, companies are seeing a leap in their ability to identify accounts and convert opportunities.

There are multiple vendors experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) enabled agents that use predictive analytics and natural language processing (NLP) to automate early lead generation activities such as routing basic enquiries and automating initial pre-sales questions.

Aside from being much more efficient than traditional approaches, when combined with account-based marketing, these machine learning algorithms can identify the most promising accounts and pinpoint the most opportune time to target them.

Conclusion

There’s no denying the importance of inside sales for B2B organizations. A well-constructed ABM strategy is key to driving bottom line results, while using personal and optimized tactics alongside increase alignment between sales and marketing teams. Ultimately, adapting your current sales strategy to incorporate this will promote the growth of your business. 

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Michael McGoldrick
Author

Michael McGoldrick

As the Global Content Marketing Manager at MRP, Michael McGoldrick is currently responsible for the management of content across functions and silos to deliver an effective marketing strategy and editorial plan to meet business objectives at the lowest possible cost. Supporting development and execution of all aspects of the corporate marketing program, Michael also develops editorial governance including content categorization and structure, content development, distribution, and measurement.