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What To Do When Your Sales Team Isn't Onboard With Your ABM Program

To truly succeed in ABM, you need total sales and marketing alignment.

If you could directly sell and market to your highest value and best fit accounts, while increasing conversion rates and client retention, wouldn’t you? The answer is probably a resounding “yes!” – and you can do exactly that with account-based marketing (ABM). 

The benefits of ABM are becoming increasingly apparent: According to both Gartner and 6sense, ABM programs show a 70% increase in opportunities created. But even with organizational support, there are a few ABM challenges you’ll likely encounter. ABM program alignment between your sales and marketing teams is one of the most common. 

What Causes a Lack of Sales and Marketing Alignment?

In most organizations, there are two main reasons for a lack of sales and marketing alignment:

  1. ABM programs are radically different from the traditional sales model, and change is scary. The sales team is being asked to flip the sales process away from high prospect volume to a specific list of target accounts, altering existing commission structures and territories. These actions are big but necessary for ABM program support. however. Let’s dive into the second reason why sales might not be completely trusting in the first place. 

  2. No foundation of trust: Sales may not trust marketing in the first place. Oftentimes, sales is not happy with the quality of leads in the traditional model. In one survey, only 7% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were very high quality and only 28% said marketing is their best source of leads. This is actually something that ABM program alignment can help to fix – but the marketing team must start communication between the teams so that they can work together to get higher-quality leads. 

How to Gain ABM Program Alignment

It’s time to move away from the traditional and create better sales and marketing alignment. Start with acknowledging that what has been done in the past is not working and being open to trying something new instead. Account-based marketing helps both departments meet their goals and realize their full potential.

1. Let Sales Know What's In It For Them

Per Forrester, aligned marketing and sales teams are up to 6% more likely to exceed their ABM revenue goals. That’s because sales gets to hone in on pre-qualified targeted accounts and has a better understanding of the customer journey for the decision-makers, so they can better prepare and better engage them. This results in personalized content for decision-makers that actually make the sales process easier and drives higher ROI and revenue. 

2. Assign Department Responsibilities

Once you agree to cooperate on this journey, it’s time to document major responsibilities for each department. The ABM program support team should collaborate with the marketing and sales teams to agree upon roles and responsibilities upfront. 

Some examples to consider: 

  • What is the agreed-upon cadence of meetings? How will issues be brought up and resolved? 
  • How and when will each team contribute to ABM efforts, especially the lead transfer and implementation of strategy? 
  • How and when will sales dispense insights on future targets for consideration?
  • How will sales provide details on patterns for persona development? 
  • What are the agreed-upon goals, strategies and KPIs, and how will those metrics be measured?
  • What are the deliverables for each team and the timing of the agreed-upon deliverables?

3. Be Transparent

Establish clear expectations of regular and ongoing meetings, then use those meetings to create ABM program alignment and air out any issues in a timely manner. The key to ABM is to share information cross-functionally, from won deals to lost deals. The sales and marketing teams should be mingling and talking about what’s working and what needs improvement. Without full transparency, you won’t be able to learn, optimize and stay agile for the future. Hiring a great ABM manager is often the right move for long-term success in this area. 

Remember, You're In This Together

ABM is a strategy that has proven success and that it can only work if all teams are aligned – and that includes sales. Ultimately, sales and marketing all have the same goal: to do great work and impact revenue, so each department's success is a shared ABM success!

Discover how ABM can align your marketing efforts.

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