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How to Implement an Effective Account-Based Marketing & Sales Initiative

How to Implement an Effective Account-Based Marketing and Sales Initiative

Once upon a time, in the world of large or complex sales, the mindset was that the one thing a salesperson needed to do was get a meeting with the “lead,” or the single decision maker. Things have changed, however. Now, we live in a world where decision making has migrated from being an individual’s responsibility to a team responsibility. That team will likely contain a variety of stakeholders, including influencers, those with financial responsibilities, and the those directly impacted by the solution.

Because purchasing decisions are made by teams, the thought processes of the marketing and sales functions must catch up with the current dynamics on the path toward a sale. How an organization responds is critical to its competitiveness. Successful companies will make the tactical shift in philosophy and action.

To help your company make this shift, we’ve put together a list of the actions needed to implement an effective account-based marketing and sales initiative.

Step 1 – Build your ideal customer profile

First, you must start by creating a crystal-clear definition of your ideal customer profile. Use precision when determining the type of organization you will target. Instead of taking a shotgun approach, you must use a high-powered sniper rifle. Using Google’s pay-per-click to gather prospects will not offer you the accuracy you need. Your goal is to be proactive and very selective about the accounts you wish to pursue.

Will you focus on a specific industry? Are you interested in organizations within a certain geographic area? Is the organization’s employee count important to you? What about annual revenue? Think about these and other qualities that describe prospects who will ultimately make up your account list.

Step 2 – Construct your account list

Once you’ve built your ideal customer profile, it’s time to find the titles within the targeted organizations that matter to the sale. For instance, if you’re selling a benefits outsourcing service, one of the people involved in the decision-making process will be the VP of HR because the solution directly impacts his or her department. The CFO will also likely be involved because he or she is responsible for the financial outlay. Then, there may be a director of benefits and/or other managers who feel the pain that the outsourced service will solve.

The idea here is to figure out all of the titles connected to the decision. When you have that list, you’ll be in a good position to get some traction within the organization because you’ll understand how you can move the sales process through the right channels.

Step 3 – Identify the people who matter to the sale

Now that you have the titles of the people who matter to the sale, you must map names to those titles. It’s time to populate your account list with the actual contacts. Whether you use LinkedIn or some other source to do this, it is important that you learn exactly who to connect with in each targeted organization.

Step 4 – Develop your marketing game plan

During this step, it’s time to determine what message will resonate with each one of your contacts. Not all messages matter to all people. Think about what’s important to the VP of HR as opposed to the CFO. One of the pain points that the VP of HR wrestles with is likely to be reducing the errors that occur during the employee benefits enrollment process. The CFO, on the other hand, is concerned with how those errors impact the organization’s bottom line.

The key is to segment the interests of the individual stakeholders. This segmentation will ensure that you send them a marketing message that addresses their pain points or answers their questions. Remember, it’s the information they get from you that moves them down the sales funnel.

When developing your marketing game plan, it’s important to align your marketing and sales efforts around your list of target accounts. That’s because your marketing efforts in this step go hand in hand with the talk tracks that your sales team will be using.

Step 5 – Build a communication cadence

Now, it’s time to get your targeted messaging in front of the people you most need to meet. Again, being laser focused is important. Instead of spending your budget trying to reach everyone in your market, you want to communicate only with the named people in the accounts that matter most.

Cadence is the drumbeat of how often you’re communicating with your prospects. It may be every two weeks that you drip out a series of messages that answer questions or address
problems that each stakeholder is experiencing.

Step 6 – Let sales sell

Because your sales and marketing team have synchronized all of the steps up to this point, you should have a firm foothold within the targeted organization. You’ve identified the pain points and, over time, presented your product or service as the solution. Now it’s time for the sales function to take over. They can begin focusing their efforts on the individuals that will help them make a sale while also identifying those who might kill the deal.

Acquirent will provide you the support you need

Account-based sales and marketing isn’t for every organization. But, if you’re dealing with large or complex sales then you need to begin to make the philosophical shift from lead-based marketing to an account-based marketing and sales initiative that works in today’s business arena.

We understand that account-based marketing and sales is a business initiative rather than a marketing program. Let us do the heavy lifting when it comes to accounts segmentation, contact creation, initial outreach, and generating interest that empowers your sales function to close deals.

Geoff Winthrop
President, LeadJen & Executive VP, Acquirent