How Marketing Teams Need to Align with an Account-Based GTM

ABM does not stop after an account is in the pipeline. ABM focuses on the journey a buyer takes from start to finish. Every touchpoint and piece of content (including the website, detailed industry reports, unique digital experiences and peer-to-peer engagement with subject matter experts) forms part of this with the aim of drawing an account through the sales funnel to a closed deal.

Impacting the buyer journey and customer lifecycle requires an account-based marketing alignment and integration across marketing teams. This is often overlooked as most teams focus on sales and marketing alignment. Below, you will see the role that product marketing, demand gen, field marketing and customer marketing should play in an ABM program.

The Role Revenue Marketing Should Play in an Account-Based Program

Despite how many marketing and sales leaders define ABM, it’s not a strategy for getting accounts into the pipeline. ABM is a business strategy where leadership, sales, marketing, and account management teams work together to get more accounts to revenue and existing accounts to greater revenue. It’s about fixing the “red” in the business — the revenue leaks across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. It’s about impacting win rates, ACV (deal size), ARR (acquisition revenue), GRR (retention revenue) and NRR (expansion revenue) and the P&L.

Revenue marketers (if you have that function) should be the driver for the ABM program as they should be working closely with RevOps to see what’s working, what’s not working and where we need to put in new processes, systems, and approaches that will be the greatest lever for short term and long-term revenue growth. They should be the ones that are aligning all teams around the revenue KPIs that need attention and guiding account-based approaches to fix the business issues.

The Role Product Marketing – The Connectors in the Business Should Play in an Account-Based GTM Program

During her ABM Done Right Podcast episode, Corrina Owens (Chief Evangelist Officer at Purple Cork and former ABM leader at Gong) mentioned that ABM is how you engage and nurture accounts from a marketing, sales, customer success and product perspective. You can listen to our ABM discussion with her below:

 

As product marketing is the cross-functional connector of the business, product marketing should be a key player in your account-based GTM program. They are the ones who should be shaping the value propositions for different types of accounts and helping GTM teams understand the buying centers and personas they need to interact with, the strategic priorities that solutions can play a strong role in, the business problems that can be fixed (vs. pain points that just make you a nice to have vs. a must have), the gaps the teams uniquely fill and the impacts.

To further align with an account-based GTM and help teams nurture from a marketing, sales, customer success and product perspective, product marketing needs to take the next step and enable teams to connect the dots and build an ABM value proposition.

Remember, ABM is all about treating an account as a market of one. Its value lies in increasing your personal relevance – and to achieve this requires a deep understanding of your target account. When you know what makes a business tick, you start to see how you can make your brand proposition relevant to them. You learn their pain points, their business challenges, their gaps, their impacts, what drives their decision-making, and where they want to position themselves in the future. By putting together “gathered” insights and in-depth knowledge about the buyers, product marketing can help create a picture of an account as a single market.

And that’s an ABM value proposition; the core messaging that will drive all communications. It’s a way of communicating the existing brand proposition to a very specific audience that fits their context. With product marketing’s help, you can design your value props for specific customer needs and to the unique opportunity in each account. You can show the role you can play in their strategic initiatives and the impact you will have.  Without the ABM value proposition, you will just be another item on their list of things to do eventually.

On the ABM Done Right Podcast below, Vijai Shankar (VP of Product Marketing at Uniphore who became a Personal ABM client after the podcast) discusses in further detail the role product marketing should play in ABM:

The Role of Demand Gen in an Account-Based GTM and How Demand Gen Leaders Need to Align with ABM

I did many ABM Done Right Podcasts where I talked about the differences between ABM and demand gen. You can listen to some of those podcasts below:

 

When I discuss the difference, I talk about how ABM is the next step to demand gen. This is where you take a 1:1 approach to move to revenue high-value tier 1 accounts that demand gen put into the funnel that has:

• Reached a certain engagement and intent threshold.
• Shown signs of being part of your active ICP as they have a clear strategic priority in place or are being impacted by a critical, key event.

However, we need to get the right accounts into the pipeline that sales and the cross-functional marketing team should be prioritizing time, resources and focus on. Demand gen campaigns, messaging, and content, need to go beyond driving awareness with the broader market and focus on those accounts that are most likely to see you as a must-have vs. a nice-to-have.

For example, a supply chain freight analytics company was assessing ABM tech like Demandbase, but these platforms would have only scaled bad “transactional” sales and marketing processes that are leading to their solution being seen as “nice to have” vs. “must-have.” This was an issue that led to lower-value deals, as clearly seen by reviewing their won/lost opportunities and their current pipeline and customer base.

  • 104 won/lost deals that were greater than $10K but less than or equal to $25K
  • 56 won/lost deals that were less than or equal to $50K
  • 33 won/lost deals that were less than or equal to $75K
  • 8 won/lost deals that were less than or equal to $100K
  • 4 deals that were greater than $100K
  • 30 existing customers that have an ARR of greater than or equal to $100K
  • 39 existing customers that have an ARR of greater than or equal to $75K
  • 73 existing customers that have an ARR greater than or equal to $50K
  • 185 existing customers that have an ARR greater than or equal to $20K
  • 132 existing accounts that have an ARR greater than or equal to $10K

This shows that our client needed a complete account-based GTM where they are bringing in high-value accounts that will see their platform as a must-have and then accelerate those accounts to revenue! They needed to fix the complete account experience, including the first touch interactions that demand gen had with them vs. just take a more targeted demand gen approach with technology.

When we looked at their campaigns and content – it focused on the transportation manager vs. leaders across the supply chain, operations and finance. While the content and campaigns provided thought leadership, it did not reframe the prospects thoughts on rate benchmarking analytics, show new ways of using it and the role it can play in key priorities across the supply chain organization. They didn’t show the impact that predictive rate analytics at a component level (something others cannot deliver) can have on:

  • Pricing strategies to protect future margin growth.
  • Demand planning, distribution and merchandising so you can reallocate product based on balancing demand data with predictive future “industry” and “component” freight rate trends.
  • Supply procurement and operations as they can leverage demand forecasting with future component rate analytics to determine inventory levels for a stronger P&L based on inbound logistics costs.
  • Sales and marketing as they can plan ahead for promotions at the right time based on demand planning and predictive freight rate benchmarking for minimal impact to the margins.
  • Operational scenario planning to help build out playbooks to protect future profitability.

Our client didn’t have content, messaging and campaigns that showed how predictive rate analytics should be embedded across the organization and the impact it can have on strategic priorities. This was the content and messaging that demand gen needed to attract more accounts like those on Gartner’s list of the top 25 supply chains that has a more mature organization and would use our client’s platform regularly vs. a couple times a year.

Teams need to have a stronger definition of their ICP (going beyond demographics and technographics) and then align demand gen and their programs to bring in more accounts that match the new ICP. While demand gen is about casting a wider net, we want to now cast a wider net that will attract more of the “whales” teams are looking for rather than a bunch of minnows with some medium and larger fish mixed in.

The Role Field Marketing Plays in ABM – and How They Should Be Integrating with Demand Gen and Sales

It’s the close alignment with clients that drives stage progression, yet many GTM teams are not thinking about that even though accounts go dark after initial engagement. Many GTM teams do not think about how we can move accounts to revenue faster at a higher ACV, which is what ABM should be about as. ABM needs to be closest to where sales and the customer lie with which is why ABM is more aligned with field marketing than demand gen. Just like ABM, field marketing is the next step after an account is in the pipeline.

As Michelle Radlowski (Senior Director, Americas and EMEA Regional Marketing and ABM at DigiCert),discusses on the ABM Done Right Podcast,  field marketing is sitting in the field alongside sales, so they are the closest to the customer and prospective customers. Because of that close alignment with sales, field marketing is seeing and understanding the conversations that are happening, getting insights into the business problems that companies are looking to solve (vs. just pain points), and receiving customer feedback that can make a difference between an account win and loss vs. guessing with campaigns. This is why true ABM (1:1) lies with field marketing. It’s their learnings that can influence selling conversations and how they handle the “why change”, “why now”, “why you”conversations.

As field marketers should be looking at interactions and experiences from an account level vs. a campaign level, they should be able to share with demand gen what’s working and what’s not working and why. As I always tell clients, you have to focus on where you want to go with accounts and the experiences you want to create and then work backward until you get to demand gen. We need to know where we’re going before we set any direction with demand gen.

You can listen to the ABM Done Right Podcast with Michelle below:

 

The Role Content Marketing Should Play and How They Are Need to Align Themselves

Most GTM teams and their content teams have slipped into the zone where they need to be front and center, disseminating thought leadership and being top of mind. When GTM teams do this, they wind up sending out content that is confirmatory and shows prospects that they’re smart, up to date on the latest issues and trends, and they’re a savvy, knowledgeable organization. But it doesn’t sell nor market change – and it doesn’t show future and existing customers that they are missing something. The content speaks to the things that prospects already know about what’s keeping them up at night vs. what should be keeping buyers up at night.

We find that most content misses the commercial insights that are needed to change the buyer’s thoughts on their specific approach, process, gaps, and impacts. They miss the commercial insights that are needed to uncover the specific big risks that the buyers have not thought about before and unseen opportunities. They miss the commercial insights that are needed to cut through the thought leadership noise because the content is provocative, relevant, and it tells the buyers their story vs. a generalized industry story. They miss the commercial insights that take prospects by their lapels and shakes them out of their comfort zone. They miss the commercial insights that are hard to ignore. And, they miss the commercial insights that are needed to drive stage progression.

In most cases, content marketers do not understand the sales process (Challenger, Value Selling, Corporate Visions, JOLT and others) and how they can support it with content. They do not understand the internal conversations that are happening. This is where content teams need to align with ABM. They need to understand the conversations that sales need to have with certain accounts so they can preframe the conversation and influence the outcome. They need to understand “account-specific objections” and “account-specific gaps and impacts” across the organization so they can create content that helps to influence the internal conversation and drive a consensus.

The Role Customer Marketing and Lifecycle Marketing Plays in ABM and How They Should Be Aligning Teams Around Best Fit Customers

As shared in the DAT story, most GTM teams fail to segment and tier their existing customer accounts, so they do not have a clear picture of who the ideal customer is and what makes them more successful and get the most value from their solution. DAT focused on size of company and freight marketing spend when they should have focused on supply chain maturity, as siloed organizations would only see them as a nice to have. They should have focused on the strategic priorities that their ICP accounts were initiating. They should have looked to see how they were being used by the companies that used them on an almost daily basis and how the platform was being used across the organization vs. those where it was just used by the transportation team.

The better you understand your customers (which is a key part of customer marketing), the more you can create content, messaging and communications that are relevant to your ICP. So right there, customer marketing should play a strong role in defining the ICP and in capturing the customer stories that all GTM teams will need to prove their relevance and the impact they can have.

OpenWorks (a national facility management services firm) came to Personal ABM because they have the aggressive growth goal of reaching a $1B market share by 2030. Despite having an ABM program in place with another firm, they consistently missed quarterly and yearly goals. Scaling ABM like they wanted would not have accelerated ABM revenue results as it would have only scaled bad processes that were leading to weak business performance. OpenWork’s did not have a true, defined ICP where there is differentiation and a reason for the facility management firm to be a must-have vs. a nice to have. They focused on industry, number of sites and size of location vs. looking for where there is true differentiation so it’s not just about cleaning the floors, bathrooms etc. In looking at where they have the biggest deal sizes and the most sites, we noticed that these accounts make facility management decisions at a regional or corporate level and not the local level (a key characteristic). In looking at accounts where there were win-backs, we learned that the clients returned because the “new provider” that offered greater cost savings took a blanket approach and put their operations at risk of a shutdown by regulatory agencies. On the other hand, OpenWorks will streamline best practices across all locations BUT will consider individual site needs and requirements.

So instead of focusing on the industry, we focused on subsets like food manufacturers, healthcare manufacturers and 3PLs/4PLs, which have different types of locations with their own nuances (including different temperature zones) and cannot afford to take a blanket approach to commercial cleaning as it adds operational, financial, and governmental regulatory risk. Now, it’s no longer just about cleaning. It’s not just about the activities that will be completed where accounts can compare SOWs and choose on the company that can offer the most at the lowest price. It’s about removing risk from the operations so products can go to market fast. It’s about removing risk from the P&L.

Through working with customer marketing and finding the companies where OpenWorks has the greatest impact – and uncovering the stories that needed to be told, we were able to help OpenWorks come to each interaction with a point of view about the prospects’ business (a key element of ABM). We were able to put together content and messaging that would reframe their prospect’s thoughts on facility management and how their approach impacts the supply chain, operations, and finance. They were now able to share commercial insights and stories that show how only OpenWorks can solve their target accounts supply chain issues with their facility management approach. They had content that showed how they can play a strong role in their strategic priorities – which opens higher level conversations than pain points that speak to local site facility managers.

So customer marketing should play a strong role in ABM, even with account acquisition. But as ABM is about driving NRR growth, customer marketing also plays a strong role in protecting and expanding accounts. When leadership and GTM teams think about ABM, they think of the top of the funnel, and it’s why ABM is frequently tied to demand gen. But ABM should be about changing the account experiences across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle and the interactions that teams are having with the human buyers in target accounts that they want to drive greater profitability and stronger ARR, GRR and NRR growth with. They think about putting new logos into the pipeline even though GTM teams struggle with accounts going dark. They think of the top of the funnel even though the reality is that there is a much better use of the ABM lever with existing customer accounts where you can maximize your revenue.

On my ABM Done Right Podcast, Steve Richard mentioned: While it is important to land key accounts, Mediafly, under the direction of the CEO, has put a stronger focus on enabling customer success teams to protect at-risk accounts to remove churn and to drive expansion with their most profitable customers. They are focused on revenue in years 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and so on, and increasing the customer lifetime value because that’s where they see the strongest opportunity for future growth. It’s a better business decision to focus on customer stickiness than new sales. The goal post needs to move from ARR and acquisition revenue to NRR – your expansion revenue.

You can listen to his podcast below:

In many instances, customer success teams focus on here’s what we did for you and generic benefits. This sales conversation in the past tense loses engagement with the VPs and the C-suite. While sales may have addressed the why change, why now and why you conversations – many customer success teams do not have the stories, insights and messaging they need to address the why stay, why evolve and why expand conversations. As a result more than 80% of buyers are indifferent, disengaged or actively looking to replace a vendor.

Customer marketing can help shape the conversations that customer success teams need to have – and deliver the stories and insights that will drive the interactions and post-sale experience. ABM is about 100% alignment with future and existing customers. The customer marketing team is sitting right next to the customers where they should be getting the customer understanding that is needed for 100% alignment.

By helping customer marketing teams become drivers of customer alignment – and using their insights to shape customer conversations, we were able to create ABM programs that protected key accounts like P&G that told our client that they’d most likely shift their business to a national competitor. We were able to create ABM programs that drove margin growth and profitability with companies like Sephora.

 

Click here to read our case study on how RGL protected their P&G account

Click here to read our case study on how an IT services firm drove margin growth with Sephora

Click here to read our case study on how Pinion aligned sales, marketing and customer success teams to drive more cybersecurity wins

 

Driving Alignment Across Marketing and the Organization Requires Account-Based Enablement

It’s not enough to just define your ICP – it needs to be orchestrated across the organization. It’s not enough to just map out processes that need to be changed and put together ABM playbooks. It’s not enough to create Outreach and Sales Loft sequences that lack the personal relevance with specific accounts.

When you bring together leadership, cross-functional marketing teams, sales, customer success and a trust ecosystem of subject matter experts to create the right account experience, you need a layer we call account-based enablement. It’s this middle layer that will help all GTM teams at each touch point create a memorable moment with the right prospects and customers. This is how GTM teams will get specific content, messaging and insights for the struggling moments that sit at the center of every deal – moments that need to be listened to, understood, catered to, reframed and solved.

Click here to learn more about our account-based enablement programs.

 

We Look Forward to Working with You to Drive ABM Alignment and Integration Across All of Your GTM Teams…

Driving change across your GTM teams is no easy task and it requires change management and a crawl, walk, run approach to ABM. However, when you change the account experience and the interactions that teams have with future and existing customers, you can drive 2X-3X higher deal sizes, faster sales cycles and longer term revenue growth.

When you schedule a strategy session with Personal ABM, we will work with you to outline the steps that your organization need to take to either get started with ABM or take it to the next level.

Click here to book an ABM strategy session.

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Read this article to see how RollWorks is only 1 piece of the ABM puzzle.

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