Are you having trouble aligning sales and marketing? Can account-based marketing (ABM) tactics save day? B2B tech marketing consultant Pam Didner joined us in the Data Basement to reveal her tried and true tactics for using ABM to align sales and marketing. Pam is also an ABM thought leader, keynote speaker, author of several books, and all around marketing extraordinaire.
Pam’s expertise includes creating global marketing plans to help sales and marketing teams align on goals and objectives. In this post, we reveal the advice she wants all data-driven marketers to know.
Walk the Line Between Standardization and Customization
Pam’s first lesson focuses on personalizing your outbound messages for the best results. Personalized messaging, especially when doing ABM, requires tracking and data collection. You can even use the audience data functionality built into most marketing tools and platforms.
During the podcast on The Data-Driven Marketer, Pam shared, “The more I enter this business of tracking and try to understand what other people need, the more it humbles me. The more I feel that you need to customize it and you need to do your homework before you actually reach out. But it’s a lot of work!”
We’re in an era where people appreciate thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Everything we do online is trackable. In the B2B space, clients are keenly aware of this and generally have fewer emotions around it than consumers in the B2C world.
Pam emphasizes that information from tracking is only as powerful as how you use it. With tracking, as with so many things in marketing, the “Holy Grail” is in the details. She says, “How you reach out is very critical, and you can’t standardize it.”
For strategic accounts, you have to put in the work to customize all messaging, rather than relying on templates. For instance, just broadly offering a service you know a potential client is looking for is not enough, you have to do your homework and know the context, what they may be missing, the specifics of what they actually need, and so on.
Obviously, this level of customization takes time and resources and should be reserved for major accounts. In Pam’s words, “If you want to reach out to 100 accounts, you can’t. I get your intention. But for key strategic accounts you have to do it in a very personalized manner.” For smaller efforts, it’s appropriate to rely on standardized processes and templates. ABM will always walk the line between standardization and customization.
Transform Marketing and Sales From Frenemies to Friends
Using account-based marketing to align sales and marketing is no easy task, And it won’t happen overnight. Strategic steps can make frenemies out of anyone though.
“One way to align the marketing long-term effort with sales, a short term-type effort, is to find out in the long-term, what are some of the ideal accounts the sales people would like to reach. Find out what they are and then see if you can actually help them.”
As a consultant, one of the first things Pam looks at when working with a new client is how aligned the marketing and sales departments are (or are not).
The goals and needs of these two areas are, by definition, overlapping, but also distinct from one another in essential ways. Marketing tends to focus on the long-term, the top of the funnel and buyer-personas. Sales is all about closing, closing, closing. Sales takes a more immediate, short-term outlook. In marketing, we think about “end-customers,” whereas in sales, we tend to focus on actual clients; Intel, Coca-Cola, etc. If marketers are farmers, then salespeople are hunters.
Of course, marketing and sales can never be 100% aligned. If we visualize the two areas as the two circles in a Venn diagram, the key is to make the overlap as big as possible, and to increase its size over time.
There are many ways to work towards increasing the alignment of marketing and sales. One potent approach is by employing account-based marketing. With ABM, you can balance the long-term marketing outlook with the short-term goals of sales via joint initiatives to hunt big, awesome accounts sales wants to reach.
As Pam says, marketers can think of sales and marketing as “hunters versus farmers.” So one way to align the long-term goal is try to understand what are some of the new accounts sales is going to hunt.
In the B2B space, the purchase cycle is usually long; therefore, marketers can act as “the farmers.” If you’re chasing an account, you’re not going to get there tomorrow. It’s all about finding the ideal accounts that sales would want to sell to in a given period.
Data Quality is an Overlooked Opportunity
In her consulting work, Pam sees data quality as one of the areas that presents a challenge to almost every company she works with, even the most technical teams. Pam shared that many enterprises, even savvy startups, are all behind in terms of the quality of data.
“The biggest issue every company encounters is the quality of the customer data. And I can tell you, everybody struggles with that. Nobody actually has clean data” says Pam. Data naturally “fades” over time as information becomes outdated. This may be especially true in B2B, where people move from firm to firm often.
Maintaining data quality costs money and requires time. You don’t see the benefit immediately. Consequently, companies tend to under-invest in clean data because it doesn’t have the short-term appeal of paying for campaigns or new hires.
But in the longer term, budgeting for clean, high-quality data will improve campaigns and increase the efficacy of software tools. You can’t align sales and marketing without doing either of these things.