Terminus co-founder and CMO Sangram Vajre delivered the opening address at Revenue Summit 2017, where he examined two “mega-trends” in account-based marketing. Where are we today, what are the challenges we face and where did they come from? What does the future hold in store for the next 15 years?
The first “mega-trend” involves the evolution of technology over the decades. Vajre begins by asking us to remember the dawn of email marketing, which was all the rage around the turn of the Millennium. Now we’re closer to the 2030s than we are to 2000, yet B2B professionals still rely upon email marketing. What B2B professionals came to realize, however, is that high open rates don’t translate to lead conversion. Before long, sales people were admonishing marketing departments to stop giving them bad leads. Marketing automation, then predictive technology, helped us identify the right kinds of leads, but overall the focus on lead generation hasn’t really changed all that much over the past 15 years.
The evolving nature of the buyer is changing all that. Buyers now expect different things from marketers. “They’re expecting marketing to be more targeted and personalized, and to engage them on their terms,” says Vajre. “As marketers, we really have to think about what this means.” Buyers expect sales to help them instead of just selling.”
The same goes for sales. “Buyers have all the information they need, they don’t need any more selling,” argues Vajre. “Buyers are looking for help. They’re looking for you to tell them exactly why they should care about the product you’re selling. They care about the value proposition.”
So what are the results? “The number one challenge B2B companies are facing is not high-quality lead generation,” Vajre asserts, adding “we still have not solved that problem we had 15 years ago.” The second part involves changing in the buying process. Fully 94 percent of buying is done online, and on average, seven to 12 people are part of the decision-making process. “Yet we only talk to one person in our CRM or MAP or who filled out a form,” laments Vajre.
“We’re spending way more time on technology as opposed to on the buyer, and this needs to dramatically change,” stressed Vajre “But if we’re not focusing on the needs of the buyer, we’re going to miss out, and that’s what’s happening today.”
The second “mega trend” identified by Vajre is what he calls “do-it-all heroism.” B2B professionals are under intense pressure to accomplish more and more for their customers. “But if you’re doing everything under the sun, how are you going to be good at it?” asks Vajre, who implores us to eschew what he calls “factory mentality.”
“We have to tailor the amount of effort we put into marketing and sales based on the type of [customer] account and the stage they’re in,” he says, “and that is fundamentally getting missed.”
With less than 1 percent of leads converting into customers, Vajre posits its time to “challenge the status quo of B2B sales and marketing.”
“Is there a better way?” asks Vajre. ABM is a growing trend, but it’s important to define and understand exactly what constitutes an account — something a surprising number of B2B professionals fail to do. “An account is a customer who is either paying you today or will pay you tomorrow because you solve for their needs,” explains Vajre. A customer, he adds, “is made up of more than one person,” and it is crucial to focus on your customers before they become customers or risk losing them forever.
What do customers want? Thoughtful personalization shows you genuinely care about them. Engaging on their terms, with topics and technologies they care about, and utilizing the technology they’re most interested in helps “cut through the noise with a completely different way of communication,” says Vajre. Always show value. “If you suck at marketing, you will suck at ABM,” he added.
ABM will not solve all of your problems. It will, however, become a mindset allowing you to focus on a problem and do everything you can to solve it. It will leave your customers thinking about you in a positive light. “You almost want your customers to think about you in the shower,” says Vajre.
What’s the best way to achieve customer heroism? “Make your customers heroes in their organizations,” urges Vajre. “When the customer believes you can solve their problems, they feel empowered. They trust you.”
“Evolution drives revolution,” he concludes. “It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about our customers.”
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