Moving From a Transactional Sale to a Strategic, Account-Based Enterprise Sale Needs to Start with Marketing

I recently spoke to a sales leader within a construction camera services company that provides time-lapse, live viewing and security monitoring and real-time project visibility. Currently, more than 70% of their customer relationships were at a transactional level and so far, they were trying to change that with sales-driven motions such as changing the sales structure (separating out a strategic account enterprise team from the mid-market team), sales compensation and sales process.

But sales leadership was still challenged to upskill the enterprise team and increase deal sizes 2X – 4X from the current ACV of $250K. The reason is that it was sales-driven. DigiCert (a cybersecurity firm that’s also moving from the transactional sale of digital certifications to a strategic account-based enterprise sale for their digital trust solutions) learned that it needs to be marketing + sales driven and it should start with marketing. The company learned that without the right marketing foundation, the sales team will not have the right interactions and conversations. You can listen to the podcast interview below with Michelle Radlowski on the crawl, walk, run approach they took to ABM and why:

Why Moving to an Account-Based Enterprise Sale Cannot Be Just a “Sales” Initiative

When targeting the enterprise, the ICP needs to be redefined. Buyer personas need to be expanded. Enterprise use cases that align with enterprise strategic priorities need to be created. Content needs to be designed with specific enterprise sales conversations in mind. And sales teams need the enterprise reframes that will need to be made to create the a-ha moments, the enterprise business case and the enterprise stories they’ll need to tell to make the connection.

Taking a strategic, account-based enterprise sales approach requires a completely different GTM. Teams will need a new marketing, sales and customer success experience to deliver an account experience across the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle that will lead to greater ARR, GRR and NRR growth. Demand gen needs to bring in the right enterprise accounts – and have them in the right frame of mind for sales to have the right conversation. Sales and marketing need to be able to work together to not only influence the key decision makers and influencers that are engaged – but also influence the internal conversations. When it comes to enterprise sales, you need to bring different departments and different functions together to create a consensus in your direction. You need the right account experience, and this requires sales, marketing and customer success teams to work together as 1 team to win, protect and expand high-value accounts.

The Marketing Conversation Needs to Change So Sales Can Move Away From Commoditized, Transactional Pain Point Selling

Marketing content, campaigns, and marketing-created sales outreach, and cadences often focus on persona pain points, automatically building the foundation for a transactional sale. Pain is annoying and it can be frustrating but it’s not a strategic business problem. Pain isn’t enough to drive business decisions at a strategic enterprise level. Yet, everyone focuses on commodity pain points vs. account-specific business problems, root causes, gaps and impacts.

Before working with Personal ABM, a facility management and commercial cleaning provider focused content and messaging on the pains of:

• Working with multiple vendors and why they should take a consolidated approach.
• Working with unreliable providers and/or employees that result in missed scheduled cleanings.
• Hearing complaints from employees about the conditions of facilities.

As a result, when there was engagement based on the pain, it was only at the local level and not at the regional and national level. The conversations often led to price-based decisions that were often not in our clients’ favor. Content and messaging were not tied to a business problem. It was still about cleaning floors, windows and bathrooms.

During the discovery process, we learned about the manufacturing customers who left our client due to price but came back to them. We learned that their business was put at risk because the new providers took a blanket approach across all locations, even though each location had different temperature zones and regulations that they needed to adhere to. Their business was almost shut down by regulators. We learned about manufacturing customers who left but came back after their operations were disrupted because the facilities, including conveyor belts, were not cleaned and maintained properly. It led to service performance issues and delivery delays to customers like Walmart. We learned about manufacturing customers that had left and came back after product recalls and the root cause was the condition of the facilities. Just think how much Similac and others lost during the baby formula fiasco!

These were real business problems and stories that were not captured and were not being told by marketing or sales. They didn’t have content that showed how your facility management approach can impact supply chain operations, the go-to-market, service performance to customers and the P&L. By changing the marketing conversation and focusing on the business problem, sales was no longer talking about the list of activities they’ll complete. They were talking about how they’ll remove risk from manufacturing operations, how the facilities will become a driver for growth and how they’ll help protect profit margins as regulator fines will be eliminated and on-time, in full penalties will be minimized. The marketing and sales conversations engaged regional and national leaders – and they weren’t being redirected to the local level. Most importantly, they were able to win regional and national deals.

Marketing and Sales Need to Align Their Conversations with the Strategic Priorities of Key Enterprises

Most of the clients that a real-time and predictive supply chain freight rate benchmarking tech firm received were not high-value accounts that would use them on a regular basis (making them a must-have). Most of their customers used them quarterly and even just a couple of times a year – and they did not embed the platform into the supply chain ecosystem.

Upon reviewing their content, messaging, and selling conversations, we saw that everything focused on transportation manager pain points. Salesforce data showed us that every time our client tried engaging with the VP of Sales or Chief Supply Chain Officer, they were automatically directed to speak to the low-level transportation manager or director.

The content didn’t reframe the prospect’s thoughts on rate benchmarking analytics, show new ways of using it, and the role it can play 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 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 on the margins.
  • Operational scenario planning to help build out playbooks to protect future profitability.

They didn’t look at the priorities of those on Gartner’s list of top 25 supply chains, including Cisco, Schneider Electric, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Microsoft, Lenovo, Walmart, L’Oreal and others that should be part of their ICP as they have a more mature supply chain organization. They didn’t have content that shows the role that their platform can play in priorities like:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint and planning for the future while protecting operations and the P&L.
  • Building a sustainable, trusted, resilient, intelligent, high velocity, and efficient supply chain through transformational change.
  • Closing critical operational gaps that led to supply chain bottlenecks.
  • Protect the business against risk in an increasingly volatile environment.
  • Leverage the supply chain to drive revenue, income and margin growth
  • Build agility in a dynamic, global environment with supply chain segmentation and new technologies.
  • Make real-time decisions, anticipate and resolve supply chain problems and ensure continuity across the supply chain.
  • Leverage AI to provide analytics and optimization solutions across the supply chain
  • Build on eCommerce growth by expanding supply chain networks, accelerate order fulfillment and reduce costs.

Because marketing was having the wrong conversations through their content and not aligning with the strategic priorities of key accounts, sales was having the wrong conversation giving them low win rates with high-value enterprises that did not see our clients’ full value. Now we’re working with the client to align the marketing conversation (content) with the conversations that sales need to have with enterprise supply chain leaders.

Once content around a key strategic priority engages an enterprise account, then sales can start to have conversations around account-specific gaps that will impact the success of their strategic initiatives.

The Marketing and Sales Conversation Need to Embed Solutions Across the Organization

Digizuite came to Personal ABM wanting stronger pipeline growth with their existing ABM program to fuel 4X revenue growth over a 4-year period. However, after reviewing the business, we saw that the real issues didn’t lie with the pipeline as the firm faced heavy discounting pressures from competitors like Bynder and they continually lost enterprise deals to trusted legacy platforms like Sitecore and Adobe.

The issue is that GTM teams (marketing, sales and customer success) focused on marketing departmental pain points just like their competitors. As a result, they were not able to drive engagement across the organization. They failed to teach for differentiation and show target accounts how Bynder, legacy platforms and other competitors do not integrate into the enterprise organization even though Forrester and Gartner reports show that most DAMS are under-utilized and are not leveraged outside of marketing. They didn’t show gaps and impacts across marketing, advertising, PR, eCommerce, sales, operations, customer service, CX, account management, finance and business leadership teams.

When you pigeonhole your solutions and focus on one department instead of embedding yourself within an organization, you automatically create a transactional sales relationship. Enterprise sales involves numerous buyers and influencers across functions and departments. Marketing teams need to uncover use cases and how your solution helps the organization beyond your main user. This is the only way you can tie your solution as a fix to a business problem. Marketing needs to provide sales with these insights before sales can begin to change their conversation. By changing the account-based marketing conversation, we enabled sales to drive these results.

Lastly,  Marketing Needs to Work Hand-in-Hand with Sales to Enable the Right Account Experience from Beginning to End.

As we said many times before – ABM is not about campaigns. It’s about each touchpoint, each time your GTM teams, including sales, have a chance to create a memorable moment with prospects and customers. It’s about each interaction and how the human buyers feel after engaging with you.

Sales teams need account-based enablement where they can 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.

We need to influence the selling conversation, the account retention conversation, the account expansion conversation and the internal conversations that are happening behind closed doors.

As Steve Richard from MediaFly mentioned on the ABM Done Right Podcast:

“We need to enable sellers to have social, email and live conversations with the buyers and influencers in the organization that they do not yet have relationships with. They need account-based insights, and personal content that earns sales and customer success teams a conversation and the right for the C-suite and VPs to engage and get involved in the buying, renewal, or expansion process. Sales teams need to know what content to use, know when to use it and how to deliver the right message across the organization. And, that is not automated sequences in Sales Loft or Outreach.

Teams need to know how to deliver high-touch, personal 1:1 messages and content that shows how you are aligned with their business vision, you understand their specific gaps and how it would impact the key decision makers teams are trying to reach – as well as their department and the company as a whole.”

Marketing and sales need to work together to ensure they have the right conversations, the right interactions and the right content and messaging that answer:

  • Why change?
  • Why now?
  • Why you?
  • Why stay?
  • Why evolve?
  • Why expand?

Sales teams cannot do this alone. If we’re going to move from a transactional sale to a more strategic, account-based enterprise sale, then we need to change the complete GTM motion. Otherwise, you’ll only see limited success and a slow ramp time for your enterprise selling program.

Click here to learn more about our account-based enablement program that will help sales and marketing teams become an enterprise revenue generation machine.

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Impacting the buyer journey and customer lifecycle requires an account-based marketing alignment and integration across marketing teams. Read this article to see the role that product marketing, demand gen, field marketing and customer marketing can play in an ABM program.

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

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