Hard Truths and Helpful Tips About Account-Based Marketing (Part 1)
Are you thinking about ditching your revenue team’s creaky, ineffective sales approach and embracing ABM … but aren’t sure of what you need to know? You’ve found the right blog post.
Today, we’re providing some mind-blowing highlights from a recent webinar hosted by Kerry Cunningham, our Senior Principal of Product Marketing.
The webinar unpacked what matters most for launching an effective ABM program and offers actionable tips for sales and marketing teams. It’s well worth a watch. But if you’re short on time, here are some insights. Kerry started the webinar by sharing some hard truths about the state of selling:
Hard Truth #1: If They’re a Lead, You May Be Too Late
B2B sales used to be all about leads. Even now, many revenue teams lean heavily into the lead-based mindset. But the emergence of Account-Based Marketing brought many revelations to revenue teams, including that account opportunities are far more important than individual leads.
When you turn your (obsessive) attention from solo buyers and instead examine the full spectrum of interest or intent that an entire organization is expressing in your solution, you’re able to dramatically increase the quantity and quality of your sales intelligence.
Without this analysis, your team won’t be aware that buyers are conducting so much research on their own that by the time your team determines that they’re an early-stage “lead,” they may in fact be much farther down the buyer’s journey than expected.
Your team plays catchup after that, putting them at a competitive advantage.
Hard Truth #2: B2B Buyers Aren’t Even ‘Buyers’ Anymore
These days, buyers are no longer individuals, but rather teams of people. On average, buying teams often include 10 people, Kerry explained.
“Not everybody involved in the buying process is going to be sitting at the table at the end of that last meeting when they sign the deal,” Kerry said, “but all of those folks are doing some research.”
How big are these teams? From the webinar’s transcript:
Kerry: “For bigger deals, there may be as many as 20 or more people involved. And again, all of those folks are having interactions. In fact, Forrester Research did a study recently that showed that on average, post-pandemic, buyers are having 27 interactions each. So when you have 10 people or 20 people, and they’re having 20-something interactions each, that adds up.”
But there’s an upside to all this activity, Kerry said. As buyers conduct research, they leave behind digital “breadcrumb trails” or “footprints in the snow” across the internet.
Sellers armed with leading account engagement technologies can track, aggregate and de-anonymize these intent signals. ABM tools help them better understand the buyers’ research and buying processes.
Hard Truth #3: You Might Deal with Multiple Buying Teams
Depending on the scope of your solution’s capabilities, your sellers may contend with more than one buying team.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a company is looking for a solution to handle the needs of many departments or divisions. Each division may task its own buyer or buying team to conduct its own research to find solutions that effectively solves its own business problems.
If your solution can serve the needs of multiple divisions, your revenue team is in a good position, especially if your team can proactively identify the divisions’ unique needs. (Account engagement platforms do a great job of this.)
However, don’t assume that your solution can be everything to every division, Kerry warned.
Kerry: “If you sell multiple solutions — say you’re a big tech company and you have three, four, five solutions — you may be selling to multiple buying centers. But those buying centers may not all be great prospects for your solution. So take into account the fact that some of the buying centers inside those specific accounts may or may not be good prospects for you.”
Hard Truth #4: Buyers Think They Know Everything About Your Solution (But Actually Don’t)
Many buyers believe they can get all the information they need about your solution (and your competitors) exclusively through online research, Kerry said. This is super-convenient for buyers, but sellers can’t fully control the narrative. That leads to big problems.
Kerry: “Not all the information that they get is going to be accurate. It certainly may not be how you’d like to present yourself. So one of the things that’s really important is you have to understand how your buyers are finding out about you.”
This requires identifying other likely sources of information — such as content from competitors or unreliable analysts — and proactively engaging buyers with data and talking points that counter this misinformation.
Pivoting to an account-based approach isn’t always easy, especially for revenue teams that are entrenched in a older sales approaches. But making the change to ABM can revolutionize your business, Kerry said.
“Within the first year, 6sense clients who take all of these new techniques on board are able to produce substantially better results, bigger deal sizes, better win rates, and even shorter sales cycles,” Kerry said. “This is really the way B2B ought to be done.”
We’ve covered a few hard truths in this post, but come back tomorrow for Part 2 of this series. We’ll provide some helpful and actionable ABM tips then.