Account-based marketing (ABM) has quickly become the predominant strategy for B2B marketers. B2B marketing operations are allocating a greater share of their budget to ABM because targeting accounts is more efficient than targeting people, but also because ABM provides an opportunity to align the sales and marketing teams more closely. 

Marketing operations that achieve better alignment with their counterparts in sales experience significant improvements in efficiency. Here’s a closer look at seven steps you can take to align your marketing team with sales as you build out your ABM strategy: 

  1. Study the Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall: The Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall is a great framework for implementing an ABM strategy; it’s helpful to develop a thorough understanding of how it works and which processes take place at the various stages. Marketing and sales teams can use standard stages as described by the waterfall to measure where accounts are in the sales cycle. 
  2. Tighten up your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Since ABM targets accounts rather than people, it’s imperative to identify your best customers and refine your ICP, which may have shifted over time. This should be a joint effort between the sales and marketing teams. Look at who your most successful customers are and identify what they have in common. Evaluate where sales can be executed most efficiently. Generate a consensus on the ICP with the sales and marketing teams. 
  3. Identify accounts that fit the ICP criteria and mark them as targets in the CRM: Marketers should compile a list of accounts and meet with sales to address any discrepancies (this step may entail revising previous criteria for the ICP). Once you’ve compiled a list, use the CRM’s data load function to mark the accounts as targets. 
  4. Identify all relevant titles for target accounts: The size of buying groups has expanded – identify roles that may be involved in researching available solutions and influencing purchases within target accounts. Then, you can load the list of people and their contact information into the CRM and target them with appropriate content. 
  5. Adopt products that provide intent data: One of the reasons ABM is growing in popularity is because companies like 6sense, Bombora and Demandbase can now provide third-party data that detects targeted accounts’ interest in intent topics, enabling deployment of ABM at scale. Integrating intent data into your ABM measurement system feeds the “Detected” stage in the waterfall.   
  6. Integrate marketing automation solutions and web platforms: Integrating marketing automation solutions and web platforms with the CRM enables marketers to mark accounts as engaged or prioritized, according to their waterfall stages. This allows marketing to monitor account progress through the waterfall toward closed/won business.  
  7. Create and run programs in your measurement system and meet with sales: As you deploy ABM campaigns, you should establish a frequent meeting cadence with the sales team to share data from the CRM, identify where campaigns are succeeding and pinpoint areas where you can make improvements. Each team should note action items to address as appropriate and close the loop during the next meeting.  

The popularity of the ABM approach suggests that most B2B marketing teams have some experience with the strategy, but many are still at the beginning stages. One of the chief benefits of a more mature ABM implementation is greater alignment with sales, and by following these seven steps, you can create a tight knit unit that works with greater efficiency and drives more revenue.  

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Learn how to measure and engage key accounts, and identify top intent providers to enhance your ABM strategy.

Gavin Griffiths

Author: Gavin Griffiths

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