Sales and marketing have numerous shared goals. Both want to drive company growth, increase revenue and improve profitability. Still, marketing and sales have grown apart over the years.
Marketing focuses on nurturing leads over time while sales concentrates on closing deals as quickly as possible. Marketing teams are often structured around channels and discipline while sales teams work around verticals or geographies. Marketing is measured on engagement and lead generation and sales on business won. Let’s face it, while it is a marriage that has endured, most of the sizzle has fizzled, and moonlit strolls have been replaced with separate beds.
ABM is the chance to get this union back on track because, more than anything else, ABM is predicated on a shared vision, shared commitment and shared objectives between marketing and sales. While other organizational teams play a role, marketing and sales alignment is the essential, non-negotiable starting point for ABM. And it is not just philosophical alignment that must be had: ABM requires marketing and sales to actively cooperate and collaborate upon a host of activities, including:
- Defining program objectives and performance goals: ABM hammers the gas pedal on revenue generation by accelerating the sales cycle, deal size, close rates and more. Intoxicating stuff, but unless there is agreement between marketing and sales on KPIs and targets in areas such as account penetration, engagement, conversions, timelines and revenue capture et cetera, these benefits won’t be realized because each team will be spending time, effort and dollars pursuing disparate ends.
- Identifying target accounts: Determining which accounts should be in marketing’s sights must be done in concert with sales. Sales has an excellent sense for which accounts fit the ‘ideal customer’ criteria and know implicitly which firmographic and contact attributes increase the likelihood of deal close. Validate this view and then prioritize these accounts through the application of predictive modeling, intention and behavior based filtering to ensure the best prospects are targeted for ABM.
- Lead stage definition: Agreement between marketing and sales on lead stage definition shouldn’t be undertaken because of the adoption of ABM – it should already exist. But if that’s not the case, ABM is the justification for clarifying and codifying the definitions of MQL, TQL, SAL, SQL, as well as articulating expectations and governance regarding what is done (how, when, why and by whom) at each stage.
- Account and lead scoring: Both registers of scoring are important to an ABM approach: account scoring leverages firmographic, fit, intention and trigger criteria, while lead scoring is associated with a contact’s activities and attributes. Develop these scoring models jointly to ensure that both marketing and sales’ perception of which attributes and behaviors are meaningful (such as frequency/length of engagement, content consumption, BANT measures, and so on) is respected.
- Measurement and reporting: Marketing and sales should work from a single, shared view of the ABM program’s performance. Devise a readily accessible and updatable dashboard that shows progress against KPIs identified at program outset. Agree to who has responsibility for testing and program optimization so that as the performance metrics roll in, it is clear which team has the lead on refining activities to improve results.
Saying I do to ABM is also saying “I do” (again) to a deep and dedicated union between marketing and sales. Not only will the collaboration required to develop and manage an ABM program rekindle the feelings of compatibility between the two, but also the successes borne of a well-thought, well-executed ABM campaign are sure to recharge their chemistry.