When marketing and sales don’t see eye to eye, businesses suffer. Companies waste at least $1 trillion annually on ineffective marketing efforts and decreased sales productivity. Sales teams ignore 80 percent of marketing leads. It’s one thing to talk about this misalignment. It’s another thing to fix it.
The good news is account-based marketing (ABM) has become a catalyst to address this long-standing culture clash between sales and marketing teams by getting the two sides to come to the table and put shared revenue objectives on a scorecard. It’s impossible to try ABM without CMOs and CROs first agreeing to set common goals and metrics—email open rates and retweets simply do not work as ABM objectives.
Unite Marketing and Sales through Revenue
To embrace ABM as a discipline, marketers need to get comfortable owning revenue responsibilities. This is scary for a lot of CMOs, let alone their teams.
Today, most marketers know that clicks, likes, and website visits are a means to an end. You have to have a lot of this activity from the right people to get them to buy. Operationalizing that transformation needs to become a focus for marketing in the months ahead.
If the first step is owning revenue responsibility, the second is demonstrating ownership by extending an olive branch to the sales team. It’s our fault as marketers that we’ve trained them to think that they can’t trust our leads and that they’re on their own at the end of each quarter because we’ve done our jobs.
We need to built trust among sales teams to accept and believe that marketing will stick with them through sales cycles. To start, marketing and sales can collaborate to establish new workflows showing what each team’s job is at different stages in the funnel.
Now a word of caution—you can’t move too far to the other side with a growth hacker mentality. It’s about quality, not quantity. This much is obvious from the small number of marketing qualified leads sales teams act on. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for marketers to accept that the new metrics they set with their sales counterparts may look terrible at first.
When marketers are focused on generating the most clicks, it’s entirely possible they are generating the wrong clicks. It’s counterproductive. To truly understand a target audience and make ABM worthwhile, marketers can’t focus on sourcing the most leads or blasting out the most content. It’s about creating and sharing only the content that a well-vetted target audience would care about. That’s where marketers need to focus.
It’s about creating and sharing only the content that a well-vetted target audience would care about.
Market Less, Win More
One company I worked with was previously very driven by marketing metrics. The team reported on email opens, social engagement and the like. They then focused solely on content that made an impact on their audience, relinquishing the “marketing of more”—more clicks, more leads, more traffic.
A lot of their traditional metrics went down. Lead volume went down. But the contribution to sales pipeline skyrocketed. The marketing team’s reported decrease in volume through increased precision led to far greater sales performance.
This transition is healthy, and illustrates the third step in correcting the sales and marketing misalignment: being at peace with the marketing function becoming uncomfortably narrow. When companies want to land huge enterprise deals, marketers need to get comfortable with the reality that there may only be a few hundred people in the world who need to know about their business well enough to sign a contract.
To that end, leadership needs to provide a safe cultural space to manage this sometimes discomforting transition. After all, it’s not just marketers learning what their counterparts in sales have always known, but sales understanding marketers’ challenges, process and limitations as well.
Marketers may not immediately know how to achieve their new objectives. But they can get there with time and a safe environment that allows them test, fail and learn.
As ABM moves from a “what is this” phase, into a “what do we do about it” phase, the companies that employ it as an operational focus will see greater coordination of objectives and campaigns across sales and marketing. By measuring only the right engagement and creating content to suit, they’ll see a rapid acceleration of interest that shows they’re on the right track.
With shared responsibilities across the funnel, these are wins marketing and sales alike can celebrate and continue working toward as a newly unified, well-oiled machine.
To learn more about how to bring sales and marketing teams together, hear Matt moderate the “Account-based Marketing: How It Can Help You” session at RampUp on the Road in New York tomorrow, November 15, 2017! Register here and we’ll see you there.