One could make the comparison of traditional B2B lead management to a tennis match. Content gets served to your customers. If it’s relevant, they’ll rally something back. Every now and then, you serve an ace that your customer can’t return, forcing you to reconsider your game strategy.
You keep volleying the ball back and forth as you move through the sales funnel, but eventually, it results in either a win or a loss for someone or both. It still requires a strategy to win, but the playing field, your opponent, and the rules of the sport are a little simpler to understand.
If that’s the case, then account-based marketing is more aligned to playing football. Or gridiron. Whichever you prefer. The field of play is much larger. Rules still exist, but they’re far more complex. It requires a bigger team effort to win the game against a more diverse opposition: multiple customer stakeholders, all playing different positions, all with different roles.
Marketing plays a central role as the quarterback, leading their team to victory by coordinating and executing efforts with inch perfect passes. Throw a duck and sales won’t catch it. If the supporting offensive line doesn’t step up to help, you may get sacked, leading to a loss of yardage, downs, and brand awareness.
Unfortunately, far too many brands are still throwing a Hail Mary with seconds remaining in hopes of winning their customer over. In the long run, implementing a proper end to end ABM strategy is one that will not only result in higher revenues for your organization, but also increase customer engagement and satisfaction.
We’ve seen what strategy essentials are needed to be successful with ABM, but what players are need to create a winning team?
Attitude reflects leadership, coach
ABM starts with a coach: the executive sponsor. Without someone to guide and fund the team, you can’t hire the right talent. Nor can you define what it’s going to take to win.
The executive sponsor is needed to push things forward, communicate successes, and facilitate the change required to successfully implement a winning strategy, all while offering support and strategic guidance.
Pick your offense: account based marketing aligns teams
With the coach selected, the field can be filled with the right talent. Just as in football, there are a number of different formats an offense can take based on how your customers align themselves. However, there are always key positions that need to be occupied to drive tighter marketing and sales alignment:
- Marketing: Quarterbacks the offense from strategy creation to execution while ensuring cross-team collaboration.
- Account executive: Aligns the ABM strategy to specific customer needs by understanding the overarching account relationship, while catching marketing-created insights downfield.
- Sales development: Snaps the ball to the quarterback by identifying new opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell.
- Support: Keeps an eye on the clock by monitoring target account health to drive retention and maximize customer satisfaction.
Show up to practice
Now that you’ve picked the right players, it’s time to take to the field and start building and testing your plays. Winning teams are forged with teamwork, common objectives, and a passion to be successful. That doesn’t come without time and effort.
Define your goals, identify roles and responsibilities, highlight stakeholders and buying personas, build your propensity models, and keep practicing. You won’t get it right the first time, but practice makes perfect. When it’s game time, align your teams positions to those on the customers side to ensure all players are covered.
When you finally snap the ball to start the play, marketing will have full field visibility to drive the execution forward. What happens though when you get back to the line of scrimmage and see that your customers have lined up differently?
Blue-52, Blue-52: Account based marketing success
Be prepared for the customer audible. Their needs will change constantly. New people join and leave that could influence opportunities. Buying patterns may change. With marketing at the helm, and a proper game plan, it’s simpler to read the field and adjust your ABM plays as needed.
You may find the account executive covered, forcing you to change your play to a run. If the tight end isn’t open, pass it to the fullback for a few guaranteed yards – adapt to the ever changing field of play and drive your brand to ABM victory.