The buzzword on the street is ABM – or Account Based Marketing. While it’s a neat way of getting marketing to focus on a smaller segmented target list and utilise digital strategies, it can be smoothly incorporated into your marketing activity and link directly to sales through your go-to-market strategy.
Over the years I’ve battled with campaigns that want to be revenue generative but often fail to deliver to my expectations.
So what did I do wrong? I used to focus purely on the cool campaign elements. I would try and weave in sales KPIs after the campaign was built. I was often disappointed with the lack of sales evidence.
I’ve learnt the hard way, that a marketing campaign should never start with the cool marketing activities it plans to implement, it should start with what’s being sold and to whom; along with how and where sales will be converted. At its core should be what is unique, special or different that will lead to insight and sales. And I should be brutally honest when something’s not worked, even killing the initiative if I can’t redesign it into something that can.
I’ve seen marketing departments pulled from pillar to post, spreading scarce resource even thinner. Activities like ABM provides pinpoint focus and can generate valuable account relevance, targeted contact strategies and a nurturing approach on the clients that engage. Widespread splatter-gun targeting is 100% a thing of the past.
Most importantly, I’ve learnt the importance of a go-to-market strategy before campaigns or ABM is deployed.
Here’s my top 4 learnings and how to track sales ROI in campaigns…
Be crystal clear on what you are selling and to whom
1. Work you want to win: For any professional services firm it’s never easy to connect sales to marketing. Visualising the precise work you want to win should be the first and foremost activity, before any marketing activity is scoped out. Set the goal early on and ensure the relevant sales teams from across the firm are participating in building the differentiated value proposition and what they need to do, specifically to sell it. Consider how complex and long the sales process is and the competitors you’re up against – map this through the buyer journey (from AWARENESS, to CONSIDERATION, to DECISION). Define the expected engagement value, investments you’re prepared to make and how many you expect to convert during the campaign period, year on year. Sales teams should be trained on the new way to sell your solution (generating a buzz and excitement in support for the campaign), given sales tools and know the marketing strategy in relationship to the sales components.
2. Clients you want more of: Get examples of what good looks like, when it comes to client engagements. Defining your ideal clients, beyond generic client profiles or buyer personas to specific trophy client examples, sets the vision so people know if it’s been sold before. If you don’t have any examples yet, consider when is the best time launch an external marketing campaign after you have quietly tested the market with your value proposition and points of differentiation. Also make sure you don’t conduct ABM on your platinum clients with an untested campaign, unless you have good reason to beat the market with a game changing idea.
Better determine how and where you are selling it
3. Target list defined: Target job titles are way to flag in marketing plans, but there’s usually a missing link to the flow across ALL campaigns in the marketing portfolio – bombarding core job titles is just as bad as not reaching them. Your target list needs to be reflective of the experts you can leverage and their capacity. Engage with Key Account Management (KAM) teams as a two way conversation. Look at the online activity for your top targets and see how you can flex your campaign or the influence it might have on them. Seek data to mine or conduct predictive analytics, so you refine your target list quickly.
4. Supporting the pipeline: Marketing is 100% able to support sales with marketing campaign micro commitments that help move opportunities to close stage. Use the digital profile your core targets generate and use the disparity between yours and their current way of thinking to generate a meeting, change the game for them and close new business. Ensure your account teams are engaging in social selling via LinkedIn Navigator to personalise your campaign. Marketing insight needs to be tracked and added to CRM, flagged to client teams and followed up on – and marketing needs to analyse the sales insight added to CRM for the target accounts and adjust activities where needed.
ROI and where it will come from
Based on all these activities sales ROI (Return on Investment) can be tracked at the beginning of the campaign and during checkpoints along the way. CRM software is at the core of data driven insight.
Think reputation, relationships and revenue. Here’s some examples of the ROI to track across campaigns, some qualitative and some quantitative:
- Pipeline: The value and volume of opportunities in the pipeline. Won/ lost opportunities and the win rate. Type and volume of leads originated by the various marketing campaign elements, from in-person events and direct targeting to social selling and digital lead generation. Shortened length of time to convert sales via ABM. Reduced cost of sale.
- Clients: Profitability and margin, an improved position client by client. Client accounts you cross-sell and up-sell into, which were previously untapped. Stakeholder contacts added to over time and evidence of deeper understanding and trust. Client feedback that specifically references their experience to buying as a result of the campaign (and not going with the competition) or more generally as being improved. The clients you determine as not relevant for the campaign, and the new ones you determine are – moving away from limited and often weak opinion broad based targeting to data driven insight and pinpoint sales conversion.
- Markets: Sectors and segments penetrated and grown over time. Campaign themes and markets that generate the most brand presence, inquiries, leads, meetings, opportunities and closed sales, and conversely what you kill which generates no interest.
This is a lot more than most of my old marketing campaigns did. I’ve learnt to do more with less:
- Do fewer campaigns and focus on those with sales potential
- Develop a go-to-market approach that’s connected across campaigns
- Go deeper into enabling and tracking the sales strategy
- Weave in digital marketing and social selling across key clients.
Want to improve the commercial outcomes of your marketing campaigns? Contact Edler Consulting for an initial conversation about how ABM can be incorporated into your go-to-market activity.
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