By Robert Pease, Pipeline Performance Practice Lead – Heinz Marketing

No, we are not playing marketing buzzword bingo in this post.  Yes, both “account-based marketing” and “sales and marketing alignment” have been discussed at length throughout B2B sales and marketing land. So, why cover them together?

The answer is that properly designed and implemented account-based marketing will align the sales and marketing teams like nothing else will.  By looking at the world the same way – via targeted accounts that have certain characteristics, sales and marketing teams come together around revenue and customer acquisition activities.

If you are unable to identify your target accounts then take a step back and go through an analysis and segmentation exercise.  We do these often for clients and it brings a data-driven, third party perspective to the conversation to better understand the size of various opportunities and the unique characteristics among them.  If you are an early stage company or launching a new product or service where product/market fit has yet to occur, then engage in a customer discovery process that utilizes an iterative campaign framework to refine and optimize customer acquisition efforts.

On the marketing side, account-based marketing drives everything from awareness building and public relations at the very top of the funnel to lead generation and sales tool development throughout the middle and end of funnel.  Gone are the days of marketing saying one thing and sales saying something else.  The message is unified around the target accounts and first touch to last touch is well organized and choreographed.

On the sales side, personas are understood and known based on stage of opportunity.  An inside sales team has a target persona to start a conversation and account executives have one to engage and close.  These may be the same person or different people throughout the buying process but the key is to know what message to use when and how to get a prospect to the next stage of the purchasing decision.

Define the universe of all companies that should be your customer.  They may not all become one or it may take more than one sales cycle to convert them but this level of focus and discipline aligns go-to-market efforts and keeps everyone on the same page.  Marketing knows what accounts to target and what the optimal prospect looks like to deliver to sales.  Sales knows how to engage based on contextual knowledge of the company and their needs driving conversion rates up.

This approach unifies the sales and marketing teams around finding and converting customers.  So we can call it whatever we like but this is all about working together with a shared set of expectations on what the other team does and agreement on what success looks like.