Traditional marketing campaigns aim to attract a wide pool of potential leads, which are then handed over to the sales team to sift through in the hopes of finding a few that might actually buy.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the most efficient way for a sales team to operate as more often than not time is wasted chasing leads that never convert. This is where account-based marketing comes in.
With account-based marketing, the focus is on a single account. The marketing and sales teams work side by side to streamline their knowledge and to achieve mutually agreed-upon objectives that focus on a seamless conversion from lead to buyer.
In this article, we are going to explore everything that you need to know about how account-based marketing improves sales efficiency.
How can account-based marketing improve sales efficiency?
Account-based marketing can improve sales efficiency in several ways. This approach results in a shorter, more streamlined sales cycle as the key decision-makers within a company are identified, targeted, and nurtured right from the get-go.
In addition to this, the alignment between the sales and marketing teams throughout an entire ABM campaign ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals and that the full sales process is seamless.
Let’s explore this in a little more detail.
How account-based marketing streamlines a sales cycle
Account-based marketing streamlines the sales cycle by taking a zero-waste approach to targeting leads. Unlike some other marketing approaches, ABM is focused on high-quality accounts that are likely to convert into sales, rather than a wide pool from which fewer accounts will convert.
Studies have shown that with traditional marketing, a shocking 79% of leads do not convert into sales, partly due to a lack of nurturing. However, with ABM, this can be avoided as new leads from your target account are nurtured by both the marketing and sales reps to help ensure the conversion.
This means that a sales team will waste less time on determining whether or not a prospect lead will actually buy, thus improving efficiency.
What are the benefits of sales and marketing team alignment?
Account-based marketing tactics and strategies are effective because the sales and marketing departments work in alignment. When your sales and marketing teams work together you can enjoy many benefits, such as:
- Higher sales and retention
- Closing more deals
- Smooth sales cycles
Companies that encourage good alignment between the sales and marketing teams on average achieve a 27% faster three-year profit growth than those that do not.
Higher sales retention
Studies have found that aligned teams retain on average 36% more sales accounts than those that do not.
Close more deals
Following on from higher sales retention, studies have also found that when the two teams are working in alignment, they are up to 67% better at closing deals, with on average 38% more deals closing than otherwise.
Improved customer experience
When the two teams are working well in alignment the overall customer experience is greatly improved. The pass-over between the marketing and sales teams can be seamless as they transition from lead to buyer.
Smooth sales cycle
Following on from great customer experience, the sales cycle is also a lot smoother. Firstly the leads are targeted, engaged with, and nurtured by the marketing teams. Then the sales team picks up the reigns and continues to nurture the leads before finally closing the deal.
Marketing and sales teams misalignment
Despite their best intentions, all too often marketing and sales teams fail to work as a partnership. This means that unfortunately, they are missing out on valuable insight and knowledge provided by both departments.
If the marketing and sales teams are not working in alignment, there are three main issues that can arise:
Firstly, the content might not speak directly to your target accounts as the content team might not have the required depth of knowledge about the buyers.
Secondly, leads are not as likely to convert. A fragmented sales cycle, miscommunication between the marketing and sales departments, and poor customer experience can all contribute to this.
Thirdly, your marketing and sales budget is wasted. Low conversion rates and ineffective marketing strategies and tactics all contribute to this.
Between the sales and marketing teams, the knowledge of the targeted buyer is vast, so why wouldn’t you want to collaborate on knowledge and skills?
How to align sales and marketing
The secret behind the success of account-based marketing is the alignment between the sales and marketing teams. This alignment ensures that the whole sales cycle is seamless, as each department paves the way for the other.
Without this alignment, your target accounts will receive a fragmented experience that is clunky, inefficient, and potentially unsuccessful. Reports have shown that a sales and marketing alignment can boost revenue by as much as 208%.
Given this statistic, it might seem obvious to want your sales and marketing teams to work in collaboration.
Communication and connection
Communication is key when it comes to alignment between the sales and marketing teams. From the get-go, there needs to be clear channels of communication between both departments to ensure that everyone agrees on objectives, definitions, strategy, and so on.
Encouraging and facilitating constant communication between the teams is the only way to ensure that you are working in alignment and are on track to achieve your goals and objectives.
Some ways you can do this include:
- Regular collaboration sessions
- Weekly feedback and ideation sessions
- Feedback from the sales team on leads and their quality
- Product and service updates
- Collaboration on marketing content
In addition to these, you can increase a sense of connection between the two teams by establishing regular interaction.
Try celebrating joint wins to help create a sense of joint purpose between the two departments. The goals and objectives should be in alignment, so the wins should be too.
Alternatively, why not provide opportunities for the marketing and sales teams to shadow each other? This will allow insight into each department that they might not otherwise have.
This can help each team to understand the other better, and the problems and challenges that crop up, as well as the opportunities. This better understanding is certain to contribute to improved team collaboration.
It is crucial to set mutually agreed-upon goals and objectives that support both the marketing and sales teams.
The ultimate goal of any account-based marketing campaign or strategy needs to be recognised by both teams to ensure that everyone is in sync.
Such a main goal could be to land new accounts or expand sales with existing accounts.
However, to ensure continued alignment throughout a campaign, there should also be smaller objectives set between the sales and marketing teams.
Examples of such smaller objectives include:
- Identifying more key decision-makers within current accounts
- Acquiring more senior-level meetings with accounts
- Increasing the overall speed of sales cycles
- Closing a higher percentage of large deals
As with all goals and objectives, you need to identify the key metrics to measure success. These metrics can go across both the marketing and sales teams to ensure both are supporting one another. This helps to ensure that the sales and marketing teams are working in alignment.
Set agreed-upon definitions
This quite often trips teams up. It’s a small thing that can make all the difference to the success of your campaigns and to the success of your team collaboration.
Get clear on certain definitions. ‘Lead’ and ‘qualified lead’ are often misinterpreted depending on your department, so this is a good place to start.
Before your campaign begins, make sure that all members of both the marketing and sales teams are clear on a set definition for a ‘lead’ and a ‘qualified lead’. Consider what qualities each of these titles need to depict and make sure that both teams are in agreement on their definition.
Once a definition has been set, you can determine key metrics for each team and then facilitate continuous channels of communication.
Collaborate on planning
Utilise knowledge and skills from all teams by taking a collaborative approach to your account-based marketing planning. Adopting a collaborative approach can only strengthen your marketing and sales efforts.
For each stage in your strategy, identify which processes to put in place and at what stage. As you do this, you should employ the knowledge of members of both the sales and marketing team. Each team will have something valuable to contribute, and have different levels of understanding of the target account and the key decision-makers.
Some questions to consider as a collaborative team include:
- What does the marketing team need to know to support the sales team and vice versa?
- How will each team provide the right support along the buyer’s journey?
- How will the sales team help in the earlier stages of strategising to ensure a smooth pass-over at the sales stage?
- What software will be utilised and where will joint documents be located?
Integrate sales and marketing software
Help bridge the gap between the sales and marketing teams by integrating the software that both teams utilise. This is one simple step that you can take to support easier alignment between these departments.
Using platforms that allow you to easily share data can make a huge difference to overall team alignment. All team members can easily access and contribute to the full overview of the buyer’s journey in one place.
Overall, adopting an account-based marketing approach can significantly improve the efficiency of your sales.
The streamlined sales cycle speeds up the overall time spent from attracting a lead to converting them into a buyer.
Also, the collaborative approach of account-based marketing supports an overall improved sales process. Not only will your marketing efforts be more streamlined and effective, but when it is time for sales to step in, they can pick up leads with ease.
So if you are looking to improve your sales efficiency, then consider adopting an account-based marketing approach for your next campaign.