As a sales leader, you might think account-based marketing (ABM) isn’t for you. After all, it has the word marketing in the name. But the reality is, ABM isn’t something marketing does in a silo — and B2B sales orgs need to get on board.
Put simply, ABM is a target account strategy that requires sales and marketing teams to work together to target, engage, and win their best-fit accounts. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Finally, your marketing team isn’t just dumping leads into the funnel and expecting you to sift through a bunch of junk to find a few good prospects. They’re actually helping you convert and close the accounts that matter most.
But for this to happen, you have to get comfortable with a new approach to measurement. Let’s look at three things all sales leaders should understand about ABM measurement and reporting.
1. ABM requires a separate sales funnel.
Don’t make the mistake of lumping your target accounts in with the rest of your pipeline. You need to track them in a separate funnel — or two separate funnels if you’re targeting both prospect accounts and current customers.
The account-based funnel is not terribly complicated, but it is different.
That’s because the top of the account-based sales funnel is static. With ABM, you start with a list of prequalified, named accounts instead of a hodgepodge of leads. And while the traditional funnel continuously widens at the top as your marketing team generates more leads, the accounts in your ABM funnel are only updated at regular intervals (typically on a quarterly basis).
By tracking your target account pipeline in a separate funnel, you can easily compare ABM’s impact on key metrics like win rate and average contract value.
The main stages of the ABM funnel are:
- Target prospect/customer accounts: All the prospect or customer accounts you’re working in a given timeframe
- Engaged target accounts: This stage is made up of sales-ready accounts and can be considered a proxy for the MQL of the traditional funnel. More on this in #2 below.
- Opportunity target accounts: This catch-all opportunity stage can be broken into multiple distinct stages depending on your sales process.
- Won target accounts: The number of target account deals you’ve closed in a given timeframe
See? It’s pretty simple. It’s really just a matter of getting your sales and marketing teams on the same page and making sure everyone understands the account-based funnel.
2. Leads are good. Engagement data is better.
Let’s look more closely at the second stage of the account-based funnel: engaged target accounts.
Traditionally, this is the stage of the funnel where your marketing qualified leads would hang out. But you know better than anyone that MQLs aren’t always high-quality, and sorting through bad leads is a giant time suck.
The ABM funnel, on the other hand, focuses on engaged target accounts — in other words, target accounts that have demonstrated meaningful engagement with your company and are ready for one-to-one outreach. If it’s easier, you can think of accounts in this stage as marketing qualified accounts, or MQAs.
An engaged account (or MQA) is more valuable than a lead because account-based engagement takes every decision-makers at the account into consideration. Leads can tell you when a person might be interested in your solution — but engaged accounts can tell you when a buying center is interested. And buying centers are where B2B purchase decisions get made.
Okay, great. But how do you actually identify engaged accounts
Meaningful engagement is about quality, not just quantity. For example, you might consider an account “meaningfully engaged” when four individuals visit five product pages on your website. This will be your threshold for turning target accounts into engaged accounts. You can get this data using a reverse IP lookup tool that maps anonymous website visitors to their respective companies. Ideally, you should use a solution that aggregates account engagement data along with lead and contact-level data so you can get a 360-degree view of your top accounts.
3. Don’t panic, but you need to lower your sales development quotas.
Don’t stop reading yet! This isn’t as scary as you think, and your revenue numbers won’t suffer.
Still with me? Okay, good.
Think about the way your SDR team (or BDR team, or whichever function is in charge of lead qualification and setting meetings at your company) operates. Right now, they’re probably focused on the volume of activities they can produce. B2B sales is predicated on the assumption that X number of calls and Y number of emails will lead to Z number of meetings.
But this idea is fatally flawed. Not because it’s wrong, exactly, but because a focus on volume alone incentivizes shallow discovery and personalization. And that’s not how you build real relationships with your most valuable accounts.
Your key accounts are worth a greater investment of time and money. By lowering quota for all target account reps who are responsible for setting meetings, you’ll incentivize them to have quality conversations with the right people. Your target account development reps will have more time to engage all your buyers with the right message, which is absolutely critical for an account-based strategy.
And if you’re doing it right, your win rates will increase. A more personalized sales experience = more revenue from fewer meetings.
This might sound like a pie-in-the-sky idea, but it really works. This video explains how our sales development team at Terminus managed these changes when we invested in ABM in 2016. As a result, we increased our average deal size by 35% and shortened our sales cycle by 20 days.
In summary: ABM measurement is new, but it isn’t scary
When you add account-based marketing to your existing inbound and outbound strategies, your sales team needs to adopt new strategies for measuring success. But fortunately, these changes aren’t rocket science.
By creating an ABM funnel, focusing on engagement, and rethinking meeting quotas, you can win your most valuable accounts and increase revenue from existing customers.