There’s been an explosion of “must have” sales and marketing technologies, but — I hate to break it to you — most automation tools are a waste of money without the right data to fuel it.
Why? It’s easy to be swept up by the hype of fancy tech, but what most sales and marketing teams are missing is cooperation. There’s even a name for this united sales and marketing strategy: account-based marketing (ABM).
“There are a lot of people putting out content and saying they can automate certain things,” Elisabeth Hawkins, director of growth marketing for PagerDuty, told me recently. “But my concern is that you’re trying to automate things that aren’t fundamentally baked into the business process, and that’s not necessarily going to [provide you] success.”
So before you blow the budget on automation technologies, first take a closer look at ABM, which 97 percent of marketers say offers higher ROI than alternative marketing activities. Other companies certainly are: Salesforce reports Google searches for ABM topped a 10-year record in late 2015, and since that time, search volume has doubled.
With marketing and sales departments merged, your company can thoughtfully select clients, allowing you to market and sell in a contextual, personalized way. With ABM, before new tech even enters the picture, you’ll capture more inbound leads and retain more clients than ever before.
The many benefits of one team
Think about it: Are two departments on separate islands going to better identify target customers than one coherent, communicative team? Aligning sales and marketing doesn’t just sound like a good idea, though — it’s been proven to work.
One study found that B2B organizations with blended marketing and sales (also known as “smarketing”) teams grew revenue 24 percent faster and profit 27 percent faster over three years. Another report found that “smarketing” resulted in an average of 32 percent annual revenue growth compared to an average of 7 percent decline for companies that didn’t “smarket.”
Those advantages have popularized ABM among a wide variety of brands. “Companies of all sizes are trying out ABM, from expanded efforts in very large global companies to laser-focused, go-to-market models in lean startups,” wrote Megan Heuer, vice president and group director at SiriusDecisions.
And the best part about 1-to-1 sales and marketing is that sellers and buyers win. When sales and marketing merge, companies accelerate sales velocity, while a more personalized approach means less spam for clients.
This quality-over-quantity mindset, in my opinion, has been a long time coming. Done right, it increases conversions, shortens sales cycles, drives retention, and — most importantly — makes for happier customers.
Bring ABM to your brand
Begin with the blinders on, so to speak. Gather sales and marketing to construct an ideal client profile using company-level firmographics like industries, technologies used, revenues, and locations.
Next, determine how you’ll sell to those brands using individual-level attributes like titles, functions, and personas. Engagio’s Account Based Marketing Guide can help with this. Basically, figure out what you’re fishing for and how you’re going to catch it.
Then bring data into the mix. Too many marketers are relying on mismatched, incomplete data sets. You need a single source of truth for both sales and marketing. Use that single data source to identify your total addressable market, and then choose an optimal set of 20 to 30 target accounts.
Every industry is different, but you’re looking for attributes that signal high sales velocity, such as large deal size, strong win rate, and short sales cycle time. If that sounds complicated, well, that’s because it is. Thus, check out this recent presentation from Joe Chernov, InsightSquared’s VP of marketing, from the Marketo Summit on ABM.
Once you’ve set your targets, it’s time to choose your channels. With ABM, just about any strategy is fair game — television advertising, content marketing event marketing, direct mail, and more. But unlike with inbound marketing, ABM campaigns can be incredibly personalized. You might, for instance, learn a target customer uses Salesforce, so you could highlight your product’s Salesforce integration when marketing to him or her.
Only after you’ve gotten into a groove and made some sales should you add in those automation tools Hawkins was talking about. My all-around favorite is Marketo, but Terminus is great for advertising, and Engagio makes campaign management easy. For sales communication, try Outreach. Just remember: If you automate a process before understanding baseline performance, you’re not going to see the true benefits of automation.
Tools can be useful, but throwing technology at a problem rarely solves it. First try seating sales and marketing at the same table. You — and your new customers — might be surprised at how well they get along.
I’m CEO and founder of Node, the Account Based Intelligence platform that’s making the 1:1 sales and marketing dream a reality and driving tomorrow’s contextual web. I worked at Google for 6 years as the youngest employee of the company, where I focused on global expansion, Google.org, and building strategic partnerships for YouTube. As a business development executive, I next spent 5 years advising entrepreneurs on everything from infrastructure to drones. From the front lines of Silicon Valley, I write about company building. Follow me on Twitter @falonfatemi.
This article was written by Falon Fatemi from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.