Don’t miss the opportunity of Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing is a good idea, so why does nobody practise it?
In the days of black book selling, salespeople had a comfortable relationship with Marketing, mostly by simply ignoring it because they could not see that it brought them any value to what they were confident doing themselves.
Things have changed dramatically over the last 15 years or so; because there are so few salespersons left of real calibre and also so few with decent retail industry contacts, the new generation has to wait patiently for Marketing to generate sales leads. But even then, there is generally a falling out over the quality of the leads. How many times has Sales been handed a list of leads that they have either failed to follow up on or rejected as not worth contacting?
Both parties will still often work entirely apart. Sales continues to do what sales does, while marketing wallpapers the media, gets brochures designed and organises events. From time to time, this cold war thaws, particularly around trade shows, generally beloved of sales people who may moan about the lack of leads they get, but who generally like the chance to get in front of prospects.
Increasingly, Sales and Marketing are working side by side, which is what they should always have done, but now the imperatives are clear – in a competitive market crowded with undifferentiated players, Marketing and Sales are both responsible for lead generation. Which brings us to account based marketing (ABM), a much used term for what often never actually gets done.
The theory goes that Marketing can help Sales convert by focusing its efforts on a defined set of prospects, somewhere between 5 and 10% of the entire prospect database. So far so good, but in practice, I see little evidence of it actually working. The problem is that ABM simply adds more conventional marketing rather than adopts a new approach.
Identifying interested parties
The process has to start with shared knowledge of and insight into the chosen prospects, with an honest assessment of what is not known. This is where things can go wrong because neither party wants to put the time in to fill in the gaps, such as personas. With decision making so fragmented, the range of interested parties as well as influencers grows by the day and slows down the final decision. But this is just the way companies do business now, so vendors need to invest more time in kissing frogs because they are chums of the prince who signs the contract.
Marketing’s role here is clear; they have to use PR, digital marketing and events to go after each and every persona identified. Sales’ job is to make meaningful contact with these personas by phone and email to get the meeting. Then the Challenger sales model takes over as they try to find out who is prepared to commit budget to the bullshit.
Who owns the ABM project?
Those companies who want ABM to work need to start with management. One person, be they from Sales or Marketing, needs to have sole control of it, a benign dictator who gets things done. Trouble is, if it’s Marketing, every time I suggest paying Marketing a commission on their contribution to sales, everyone starts laughing.