By Sangram Vajre

Every person has different strengths. This is especially true for marketing and salespeople. Marketing’s strengths are in creating content, campaigns, and generating awareness for a business-to-business (B2B) company’s brand.

Marketing supplies the creative content to drive interest, creating leads for sales to pursue (opportunities). Sales’ strengths are in the tactical know-how and training to turn those opportunities into Closed/Won deals. If you ask a marketing operations or content manager to get on the phone and close a deal, he or she probably can’t do it. At the same time, you wouldn’t ask a salesperson to write a 10-page whitepaper or produce a webinar.

This is why it’s important for your “smarketing” team to bank on each other’s strengths and collaborate on campaigns for all stages of the account’s journey.

Creating a sustainable process

Working together, your “smarketing” team should create a process that is repeatable for each stage of the account’s journey. This helps execute account-based marketing at scale. A sustainable process for your “smarketing” team should be both repeatable and scalable.

The stages of the account’s journey from New, Prospect, and Opportunity to Customer should align with the flipped funnel when creating a sustainable process. Your company’s account-based marketing activities should be a scalable, repeatable set of strategies. The goal of aligning all these activities is to have a model for growing revenue. Here are the steps “smarketing” should undertake for creating a sustainable ABM process.

Identify

The goal is to get the accounts you identified on a discovery call and/or to agree to a sales demo. Accounts are identified with either inbound or outbound marketing.

When inbound, the new prospect is identified when they download content or complete a form, thus being added to your CRM and synched with your marketing automation system. An alert is sent to the BDR/SDR. They follow up with a cadence of calls and emails, sending supporting content created by marketing (such as recent blog posts, infographics, and whitepapers). The accounts are added to an email nurture or drip.

When the account was identified in your CRM, and the BDR/SDR is working to connect with them, it’s outbound marketing.

Expand

The goal is to connect with as many contacts as possible in your target accounts. By expanding your reach within an account to connect with more people, you better identify the influencers and decision-makers in the account. At this stage, the BDR/SDR or sales administrator should be adding more contact data to the account to build a full profile in your CRM. Marketing should assist by adding these contacts to segmented lists in marketing automation, adding them to email nurture programs, and confirming that they’re receiving invitations to applicable online and offline events.

Engage

This goal is to connect with the contacts in your accounts who influence the purchase decision. This activity creates energy and velocity to advance accounts into the next stage of the journey. Here are the next stages of progression and associated activities:

  • New account to qualified prospect: BDR/SDR is calling and emailing, and marketing is sending content to get the prospect on a discovery call and demo with a sales account executive. Marketing supplies high-level content (such as blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, and infographics) to increase awareness and appointments for sales.
  • Prospect to opportunity: The sales account executive has a successful demo and engages with the opportunity. The sales AE is working with the contacts in the account to answer any questions about pricing or handle objections, while marketing supplies educational content (such as case studies, customer video testimonials and webinars to increase engagement and create velocity to close more deals, faster).
  • Opportunity to customer: The sales account executive is engaging the account in negotiations to close the deal. Here, marketing supplies “how to” content, demonstrating a return on investment (ROI) and competitive analysis. The value is in increasing engagement with contacts in the opportunity accounts to turn them into customers.

Advocate

The goal is to get the accounts you closed to become advocates for your company. Accounts become advocates through the successful adoption of your product or service. When they can use your product to fulfill a business need, they continue paying your company. Seeing customers successfully adopt and use your product increases retention and reduces customer churn. Marketing supports customer success in the creation of advocates by supplying content, such as implementation guides, video tutorials, “how to” resources, free training webinars, and hosting customer events.

This may or may not fall under the responsibility of a marketing team. Larger organizations may have entire departments dedicated to creating training and onboarding resources, especially if the product or service is more technical.

Serving and selling

With “smarketing,” marketing and sales work together to serve accounts with solutions that answer a business need. The idea of serving instead of selling comes down to the fact that you should service an account instead of always asking them for more: more of their time or more of their money. Selling comes down to brass tacks: The salesperson asks an account for money.

Account-based marketing is about building relationships with accounts to make it easier for sales. This is where a combined “smarketing” team can leverage its strengths. Marketing activities help engage accounts to determine whether there are additional needs to fulfill for an account. A “smarketing” team can serve an account by

  • Hosting free webinars
  • Inviting them to relevant events
  • Sending case studies
  • Including them in industry research
  • Interviewing for video testimonials

Greasing the wheel to revenue

All of the “smarketing” team’s efforts are to drive revenue. It’s an organic effort that starts by identifying the best-fit accounts you need to work with, then determining how to reach all the contacts in the account to engage them through activities and programs. By serving up relevant content, inviting them to events, and thinking of them as future partners and advocates, you’re on track to building long-term relationships and a sustainable revenue model.