Are you on track to win those "Dream Clients"? - Aligning your Sales and Marketing Strategies

We’re now over two months into 2018 and all well underway with our longer-term target account plans I hope? But, with that Q1 revenue/sales target looming on the horizon is your focus shifting back towards the short-term and easy wins?

From month-to-month throughout the year in most companies with sales or business development teams there is a very heavy focus on “hitting target”. However, in the early weeks of a new year, there are often discussions about “Top Targets” & “Dream Clients” – which if not handled properly can easily be pushed to one side when “making the number” for quarterly revenue targets. But, what if you didn’t just aim for those Q1 or even Q2 targets? Why not look even further ahead and utilise a properly focussed target account or ABM project to make those “Dream Clients” become clients! The fruits of your labour can take time to show, but we promise you it’ll be worth it!

So, what does a successful Target Account or ABM project look like? QUALITY over QUANTITY... with plenty of patience & focus along the way.

ABM programs can only work successfully if everyone involved – sales directors, marketing directors, sales teams, marketing teams, business development teams, as well as those at the very top – buys into the project and can see the long-term goal & gains over trying to just hit the immediate quarterly revenue/sales numbers. In short, ABM is the coming together of sales and marketing strategies to create a wholly holistic campaign where all involved need to be aligned and working together from start to finish.

Team/Silo alignment is not an easy feat for any company and even team members with the best intentions may need to break a lot of old habits. Once both teams are on-board, go through the following steps (together), and plan how alignment needs to happen at each one:

  1. Identify Target Accounts - This should be done with the whole ABM team. Sales and Marketing can bring their own target lists to the table, but everyone should leave with the same short list. Then, agree on a ranking system, and rank all the potential target accounts (from the short list) in terms of importance, which are more likely to close etc.
  2. Developing Account Personas - Even if Sales and Marketing have been poorly aligned until now, they’ve still been working on targeting & converting the same set of prospects… hopefully. Developing personas together isn’t about the overlap, but about the finer details. Marketing should be able to identify companies, titles/positions, business priorities etc. Whereas, Sales’ insight should add anything from actual conversations (phone or email) - pain points, FAQs, personal interests, favourite sports teams and more... All of it is important for ABM.
  3. Find the RIGHT content - If personas drastically differentiate in step two, then Marketing may need time to rework some existing content pieces. If not, or if your marketers are open & agile, start reviewing core content pieces together. Begin with the most popular or most used by Sales, and make sure each piece aligns with a persona and specific stage in their journey. Marketing will have data & analytics that show which pieces have the best digital interaction; Sales will know which content works best with real people on the way to closing an account.
  4. Integrate ABM into the overarching strategy - Sales and Marketing both participate here, on different channels. Marketing should own the bigger piece of this – pushing out content on the website, social channels, email, etc. Sales, however, will be integrating content into personal emails, phone calls, and even meetings. Keeping this in-check so that no target account receives irrelevant content or the same content twice can require either a sophisticated marketing automation platform/CRM system or cross-team organisation & comms (depending on Target Account list size).
  5. Optimising Content - It’s traditionally up to Marketing to measure and optimise content, but the metrics/analytics should be shared and reviewed as an entire ABM team regularly. Marketing's engagement metrics and Sales’ pipeline metrics can both crossover in an ABM project, so one should help the other – ‘one rule doesn’t work for all’.

The main purpose in doing all of the above is that both Sales and Marketing have a stake in every step of the project, but also to make sure everyone is aligned and kicking towards the same goal. Whole team alignment makes for a stronger strategy that, when combined with a focus on target accounts, can make a big difference when it comes to conversions.

ABM has proven its effectiveness across an increasing number of businesses, but its success is so dependent on Marketing and Sales buy-in from the very top, down to the frontline.