We all know how it feels when you’re working on your marketing plans and your sales colleague is asking you for help on something else at the same time: “Can you help me? Preferably now? Right away?”
I recently spoke to Karin Schaff Glazier, a seasoned ABM professional. She worked at ServiceNow Elite Partner Crossfuze for 17 years and can reflect on the do’s and don’ts of ABM with a passion you rarely see. We talked about some ABM quick fix ideas as well as tips to consider when executing account-based marketing campaigns.
ABM yes, and fast, please!
So, here’s the challenge: Most Marketers tend to make a thorough ABM plan, going over all the right steps we need to take. You set your goals, select the target accounts, research, create a campaign plan, content and playbook etc. The plan creation might take some time, you need buy-in from all stakeholders, you need to collect data and decide on segmentation, you need to refine messaging and develop all materials, right?
Eight weeks on and we might be ready to launch. Or, maybe not, because you might need to create new content first. Sales usually don’t want to wait that long, they just need something quick.
How to balance longer-term plans with quick win requests from Sales
It is possible to do something quick, let’s call it ‘ABM To Go’, but Sales will get some homework as well. Here’s how Karin would approach this situation.
Some ABM To Go ideas:
Instead of starting the big engine for your ABM programme, you can focus on e.g. letting your CEO reach out to the CEO (or other C-level contacts) of accounts you want to target.
Karin used this tactic to help the CEO start conversations with CIOs and others: “We studied the accounts and we looked at interesting reports, whether from Gartner or Forrester, to see what page, what topic, what paragraph could be of interest to the recipient.
In a personalised message, our CEO would reach out, followed by a short, personalised video email. He sent the messages via Outlook to help make it more personal. The outreach had cadence and purpose based on the audience type and what they’d be most interested in.”
The power of peer-to-peer engagement, when done correctly, makes it easier to connect because both parties can relate to one another’s situation and challenges. Also, Karin found when a sales meeting is not the immediate goal, but engagement instead, you can build a programme around this that delivers relationships, and sometimes even meetings after all. Executive-to-executive programmes are about listening, learning, and leveraging experiences the audience can relate to in an effort to provide them with the insight they didn’t have before. You have to offer value, not a sales pitch.
A simple sales sequence: Simplicity is key for sales reps
Another way of getting started quickly is to align a set of messages and content to your existing campaign. Then let Sales share this with their key accounts.
“We created a series of emails for Sales linking to ‘interesting’ content per target account. This made it easy for them to quickly reach out with confidence in their messaging and approach. Sales just had to press the send button and follow up with a personal video and phone call.”
Karin’s team worked very hard on making things simple, bitesize, and ready for their sales colleagues. They would always think about what Marketing could prepare in advance and take off the plate of Sales. She commented, “We created a self-help kit on how to make a 30-second personalised video; all they had to do is record and send.”
Leveraging client references
“Our third quick fix ABM idea was to leverage client references in certain industries”, says Karin. “The idea is simple and effective. Imagine you have a reference in the health industry and a key target account in the same industry, you can reach out e.g. by saying ‘If ever you want to connect to company X, please let me know, they are one of our customers. This approach offered transparency into what we’ve helped others achieve, which was an open door for someone to do their due diligence.”
Getting started with acccount-based marketing
Before starting take the following tips into account:
- Listen to Sales as the starting point for collaboration
It helps in all situations to tackle account challenges together; this means Marketing should learn from Sales what they want and what has worked for them in the past. This step of exchanging relevant information is the best way to start collaborating in a meaningful way.
- Marketing needs to be one quarter ahead
It helps if Marketing is always one step ahead. In practice, this means Sales should tell Marketing what they want in the next quarter well ahead of time, as Marketing needs time to plan. Karin explained how she used to plan a couple of hours mid-quarter with Sales, “I would give them my questions in advance, and we would mostly talk about forecasted pipeline so we know what the gaps were. Based on that discussion I would come up with a few campaigns.”
- Place yourself in the shoes of a sales rep
This means, get rid of typical marketing copy. The tone of voice of a sales rep is different, far more conversational. The challenge when preparing copy for emails or LinkedIn posts is to make it more human, more simple. Video also helps a lot with achieving this goal.
- Use the metrics Sales is interested in
Karin also said, “I base my metrics on what Sales want. We looked at metrics such as getting job titles higher up the decision chain or C-level in our pipeline. Can we increase the average deal size by 2-3x? What is the conversion rate from lead to the first meeting to an opportunity to close?
“From ‘lead’ to ‘first meeting’ in particular is a good indicator of the quality of the lead. Measuring leads only is an old-school marketing practice.”
Actually, in this day and age, the one metric that matters most for both teams is pipeline -or at least it should be. Modern marketers are focused on building pipeline WITH sales rather than just leads for the sake of leads. Quality leads lead to pipeline that has a higher probability to close. That’s what both Marketing and Sales are focused on.
- Marketing can’t do it alone
It’s great to pick up some small ABM campaigns alongside the bigger ABM programme. But this still needs involvement and help from Sales. Karin added “As much as Marketing needs to be committed to precision follow through. Sales need to be committed to adhering to follow up to make ABM or any type of campaign produce expected results. Sales will also have some homework. This can be accelerated by a sales leader who understands the role and power of marketing. Make sure you create an open dialogue with Sales”.
One of her last comments in our conversation is that it would help if an SDR (Sales Development Rep) or BDR (Business Development Rep) works in the marketing team and creates the opportunities, instead of Marketing handing over low-quality leads to Sales.
Are you interested in learning more about ABM in practice or do you want to get started with ABM? You can reach out to us anyway (;-)