Sales and Marketing Alignment Is Key for ABM Success
The following article was originally written for Lattice Engines which was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet in 2019.
We’ve noticed something here at Lattice Engines (now a Dun & Bradstreet company), and it’s something we’ve seen with the many customers we work with: When sales and marketing are aligned, they close more deals.
Whether “sales isn’t converting enough leads” or marketing is “sending sales junk leads,” chances are that the reality of your sales and marketing misalignment falls somewhere in the middle. Wherever the truth may lie, the data doesn’t lie — alignment between the two teams means more revenue for your company.
Though there are many ways to establish sales and marketing alignment, in our experience there are five key steps that every data-driven account-based company should strive for.
1. Establish the Right Account Types
The “right” account type is the one that will get the most benefit from the solution you’re selling. If you understand at a high level what value your company brings to its buyers, you should be able to quickly identify buyers that are a good fit for your solution.
For example, D&B Lattice we provides value to B2B companies that want to be account-based in their sales and marketing efforts to drive continuous, scalable growth.
Even more crucial for account-based marketing (ABM) is knowing the key personas you’re selling to within those target accounts, and why they would want to buy your solution. For the D&B Lattice CDP product, those key personas are sales & marketing leaders and operations teams.
Both our sales and marketing teams are targeting the same persona, with the right kind of use case. Therefore, everyone is aligned on messaging and overall rationale for sales and marketing strategy and execution. This common understanding helps bridge the gap between leads passed from our marketing team and pursued by our sales team.
2. Find the Accounts to Target and Prioritize
Once you’ve established what makes an account a good target, you need to be able to surface these accounts with an automated process.
For example, if you want to see what technologies certain companies are using, you could use tools like DiscoverOrg or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get that information. But there are less tedious and manual ways of finding these accounts. We use our D&B Lattice platform and all company attributes it can track to automatically determine which accounts are in-market, a good fit for us, and more likely to buy based on many characteristics. These attributes include technology stack, firmographic data, web profile data, intent data, and first-party data among other relevant signals. These data points are automatically aggregated and then used to assign a weighted letter grade and numerical score for account classification and prioritization. For instance, A and B accounts go directly to sales, whereas C and below accounts are typically put into marketing drip campaigns if there’s reason to nurture.
Having this data and insights on our target accounts helps us understand how much more likely they are to convert, allowing us to prioritize our time effectively.
3. Build Messaging for Ideal Customers
Having a list of target accounts with justification for sales and marketing is incredibly powerful for keeping everyone aligned and on target — especially when it comes to messaging.
Our sales and marketing teams are extremely collaborative around optimizing messaging, web content, events, and other ways to get more meetings for our sales reps. Because we are aligned and understand the core initiatives for our buyers and which accounts to prioritize for what kind of outreach (e.g. sales call or email drip campaign), we can build messaging to support the needs and use cases of prospective buyers. Instead of blasting our company message at these prospects, we shape the messaging to their needs.
For example, when reaching out to SDR leaders, we may message around how much more revenue per rep is generated when using our platform, as well as time saved and meetings booked. Notice that these relate to business outcomes as opposed to just product features. Our sales and marketing messaging will also follow along those same lines. This well-orchestrated and consistent messaging from sales and marketing is much better received by our target personas and result in more scheduled meetings.
4. Execute Excellent Outbound Campaigns
Establishing consistent and relevant messaging is critical in creating a dialogue with future customers, but once we’ve established that dialogue, success comes down to execution across sales and marketing channels.
We use Outreach.io for sales messaging and Marketo for marketing email campaigns. Because the D&B Lattice platform integrates with Outreach.io, Marketo, LinkedIn and Salesforce (among other tools) our sales and our marketing teams can easily work with the real-time segmented lists we’ve built from our platform to target, track, and adjust accordingly.
We use our AI platform the same way our customers do. In fact, one of our customers who developed a similar framework of touch points and prioritization won SiriusDecisions 2018 ABM Program of the Year with this approach. Take a look at their strategy for SDRs’ outreach below.
5. Measure Results and Adjust Accordingly
You’ve probably heard Einstein’s famous quote: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Strategic iteration can make all the difference in your ABM results.
Successful sales and marketing teams realize the importance of collaborating and, more importantly, iterating their outbound strategies to acquire new business. But to optimize your sales and marketing strategies, you must track your results.
Take a subject line, for example. To optimize a subject line, you need to track things like open rates, time sent, engagement times, and A/B testing. Only then can you see what’s working and what’s not — and adjust accordingly.
Having an open perspective on strategy, messaging, and execution is instrumental in putting forth messaging and content that resonates with prospects and helps win more deals. The D&B Lattice SDR team is afforded the ability to have open discussions and quickly adjust messaging in accordance with winning results.
Sangram Vajre. Co-founder of Terminus and author of ABM is B2B: Why B2B Marketing and Sales is Broken and How to Fix it says: “The value of marketing is defined by sales.” While to some this may be perceived as controversial, it’s the reality of marketing’s success.
The fact of the matter is there’s no silver bullet to crushing outbound sales and marketing in perpetuity, but if you’ve aligned your sales and marketing efforts and can determine what works and what doesn’t work, both teams will be better off in supporting growth and company-wide success.