Accounts v. Leads
In a non-ABM sales funnel Marketing focuses on creating demand and capturing leads. Those leads are then passed on to Sales for closing. Marketing gets excited when thousands of users download an ebook or white paper, but Sales is underwhelmed. Why? Because those downloads are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), not Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). SQLs come with more information; enough information to warrant personalized outreach from Sales. The less information Sales gets from Marketing, the less likely they are to actually close a sale. Lead quality is a significant concern for Sales.
As Vajre pointed out on the podcast, the ultimate responsibility for closing a sale falls to the Sales team, but the onus is on Marketing “to bring the horse to water”. Empathy is essential to aligning the two teams. Vajre suggests one way to create empathy is to have Marketing personnel shadow Sales team members. Sales is extraordinarily difficult, but marketers may not fully grasp that until they spend a day or two alongside their sales counterparts. He also recommends using a Universal Scorecard to eliminate confusion and ensure Sales and Marketing are focused on aligned goals and operating from the same playbook.
The ABM Difference
Account-based marketing requires Sales and Marketing work together from the beginning to identify target accounts, then continue to collaborate on campaign specifics, reporting progress, and ensuring prospects become customers.
Vajre defined ABM as, “Focused B2B marketing. Getting hyper-focused around your list of accounts and the people you care about; people you feel can benefit from your services.” Fully aligned, hyper-focused Sales and Marketing teams are better positioned to create more personalized communications and opportunities. And by being hyper-focused they drive more sales and higher value sales. “At the end of the day, it’s not about more things. It’s about dialing in on the right people and measuring the right things that help make business decisions.” Beyond increased, higher-value sales, ABM enables retention and upselling opportunities after the sale because so much is learned about the account in the acquisition process. Account-based marketing establishes familiarity with an account that can be used to deploy more personalized efforts in the future.
Vajre also addressed the importance of engagement as “the new measurement” and stresses that “a download is not engagement.” If a download isn’t engagement, then what is? “If an account or people within an account are spending time on your site, that’s engagement,” said Vajre. Engagement matters because it’s a predictor of closing a sale and helps clarify where energy should be focused. Which top target accounts have the highest engagement? The answer to that shows where your focus should be. Even if an account is a good potential customer, if their time-to-buy doesn’t fit or they’re not engaged with your company and your value proposition, focus your efforts elsewhere.