B2B Sales: Moving the Needle with Account-Based Marketing
OCTOBER 16, 2023
Every B2B company we work, strategize, and collaborate with is unique. Still, all face the same challenge — connecting with the businesses and the right people at those businesses to sell their products and services. That’s always been the sales game. What makes it more challenging for sales teams today is those face-to-face meetings, cold calls, and industry conferences, once key to new business, are becoming less effective as online interactions reshape the sales and client engagement environment.
Even well-established sales teams that have been knocking it out of the park for years are feeling a sense of stagnation. As a result, many of our clients are seeking ways to rejuvenate their sales departments, often requiring a shift in their approach. That means change, and change is never easy. The idea of “I don’t need marketing; I just need to get in front of my prospects” has been a longstanding belief. Offering subject matter expertise on your products and services used to be enough to break down barriers and connect with prospects. Times have changed. Competitors now offer similar expertise and prospects can easily access this information online, no appointment necessary.
Rather than seeing these changes as obstacles, we view them as opportunities. The structure of the sales and client engagement process is not fundamentally flawed, it just needs a fresh perspective. The way customers and prospects engage with your brand has evolved into a multifaceted, ongoing conversation. This conversation encompasses various aspects including sales, public relations, industry publications, events, social media, advertising, and your website — all occurring simultaneously.
Stop, look, and collaborate
This conversational confluence presents a tremendous opportunity to align the efforts of sales, marketing, and customer success teams to work toward common goals, strategies, and messaging. This collaboration has the potential to reshape new business strategies and create a synergy that drives results.
This ongoing conversation has also changed what we sell. While product and service expertise remains crucial, the real differentiator has become your ability to align your expertise with your client’s success — and convey it in a compelling and accessible manner. By the way, you’ll need to amplify this message across multiple platforms while delivering it to their doorstep.
Which Channels Will Reach My Audience?
But you ask, which doorstep? Their office, home, social channels, or favorite industry publication? Is it in the form of an article, news item, or video? The possibilities are abundant and further complicated by the diverse consumption patterns of your clients and prospects. This can become overwhelming and easily be viewed as a challenge. Or did I say opportunity? I think I did.
This is where Account Based Marketing (ABM), combined with a solid Inbound Marketing Strategy, takes center stage.
ABM is not about casting a wide net; it’s about tailoring your marketing efforts precisely to high-value accounts and key contacts. It’s like having a laser-like focus on the clients that matter most to your business. Success with ABM starts with a deep understanding of your clients.
Know thy client as thyself
While you won’t be going to war, you will be battling other businesses going after the same client. So dig in and prepare.
Take the time to truly understand your client’s business goals, objectives, and pain points. Dive into their industry and market to identify opportunities and challenges. This knowledge forms the foundation for building personalized and impactful campaigns.
Activating Channels to Reach Decision Makers
Once you’ve selected the key accounts that align with your strengths, outline the decision-makers you need to reach. C-suite, procurement, and project specialists have different ways of looking at their business and what it means to succeed. Take time to understand each, their needs on the job, and the information they need to acquire to help inform the type of content you create. Use data-driven insights to enhance your buyer personas, further personalizing your content to ensure the marketing materials you develop speak directly to each prospect’s needs and aspirations.
Clarity into your audiences allows a comprehensive, layered marketing plan to be developed. In complex B2B sales scenarios, prospects may engage with multiple pieces of content at different stages of their decision-making process. This content could include blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, paid advertising, email marketing, webinars, and more. Be prepared to develop and populate the identified channels with robust, engaging content. (And don’t forget a strong call to action.)
The key is to have a well-structured content marketing strategy that provides prospects with the information they need at each stage of their journey. Tracking and analyzing their behavior and level of engagement along the complete buyer journey will help further tailor the type of content you create moving forward.
Approach each client’s doorstep thoughtfully by embracing a multi-channel approach that includes sales, social media, public relations, paid advertising, search engines, webinars, events, personalized direct mail, meet-ups, and more. Each activated channel can be a catalyst for building deeper connections.
Track your progress rigorously. Analyze engagement metrics, conversion rates, and ROI to determine what’s working and what needs improvement. Use that data to refine your ABM strategies continuously.
Build Lasting Relationships and Value
Finally, in the world of ABM, it’s not just about closing the deal — it’s about building lasting relationships. Continue to engage with your clients post-sale, offering valuable insights and support.
Stay agile. Adapt. And enjoy the ride.
Howerton+White is an integrated marketing agency that works with B2B clients to help develop and deliver Account-Based Marketing Strategies. We understand that more marketing isn’t the goal — success is — so we work seamlessly with internal teams to achieve lasting impact and meaningful results that transform business.