During the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hershey ran a series of commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with the tagline “Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together.” As part of the campaign, serendipitous accidents mixed peanut butter and chocolate. The accidents were silly, but the premise was simple – the combination was better than the parts.
Sales and marketing are similar. They often operate in different worlds, but in the end, they both have the same mandate: growing top-line revenue. In fact, sales and marketing are the only corporate functions with the specific objective of growing top-line revenue.
In last month’s blog, I called for B2B sales and marketing alignment as a competitive necessity. I noted that the two departments operate in “separate universes” with different goals, compensation metrics, and platforms. At the operational level, they don’t even manage to the same core datum. While marketing focuses on leads (people), sales focus on accounts (companies).
And sales reps will struggle to make quota.
And revenue will be flat.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a set of process ideas around aligning the two departments and growing the top line. For ideas around cultural alignment, I would refer you to a March Forbes article titled “The Balancing Act: Should Marketing And Sales Teams Coexist?”
Ideal Customer Profiles
As ridiculous as it sounds, B2B companies often have only a loose definition of their ideal customers. Usually, it is something like companies of X size in the following industries. Perhaps, they know a little more such as companies using or evaluating Vendor X. But these perspectives are generally back-of- the- envelope approximations. “Global 2000” does not properly specify an ICP.
Few companies have a rich definition of their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) which means they are basically guessing at which leads are valuable. So, what does marketing do? They setup demand generation programs to pull in lots of leads and see which ones demonstrate behaviour indicating interest. These leads are then deemed marketing qualified and passed over to sales. But interest is only a weak indicator of fitness or the ability to purchase. Sales reps look at these leads and cherry pick a few while ignoring most of them. Thus, demand generation is a broken process resulting in significant waste.
But what if Sales and Marketing sit down to define which are the most valuable prospects? What If they jointly review the stage analytics, close rates, and deal sizes? What if they took an analytical approach to defining their Ideal Customer Profiles?
Frankly, that sounds as likely as one person’s chocolate bar ending up in somebody else’s peanut butter jar.
But there is one way to develop an ICP without gathering sales and marketing leaders to perform such an analytical exercise – deploy a vendor such as Sparklane to model your Ideal Customer Profile based upon firmographics, signal data, and your account intelligence. Not only does a MarTech solution provide you with an ICP, but it can quickly evaluate your marketing leads and assign a lead score based upon the ICP. Thus, behavioural data can be combined with an ICP score to better determine which leads require immediate sales attention, which leads should be actively nurtured, and which leads don’t deserve the name.
Furthermore, having an ICP helps marketing identify additional prospects which are similar to their best customers. These net-new accounts and net-new leads are often several-fold more likely to close than marketing qualified demand generation campaign leads.
Employ a Shared Golden Record Strategy
A second issue that dogs the sales and marketing relationship is bad data. Periodically, attempts are made to clean the marketing automation platform (MAP) or CRM with refreshed data, but these platforms often reek of decayed lead and account data. And when they do enrich their files, they often don’t work with the same vendor. Guess what? Vendors don’t always agree on basic company and contact data. This results in frustration when the MAP data says HOT and the CRM data says NOT.
A Golden Record strategy employs a third-party vendor to enrich and maintain the data quality in both platforms. Agreement on vendors aligns decision making around the same data set and reduces organizational data hygiene costs. It also reduces channel conflict when there is a single source of truth.
Lead-to- Account Mapping
Associated with a Golden Record strategy is Lead-to- Account Mapping. While the focus should be on top accounts, there is an ongoing flow of new leads into organisations. These leads are generated via web forms, tradeshows, webinars, and other traditional marketing demand generation activity. Unfortunately, many of these leads are mismanaged due to limited or poor data. A Lead-to- Account Mapping strategy immediately associates leads to accounts, enriching them with firmographics, and flagging leads associated with your top accounts. By immediately scoring inbound leads against the ICP model and ensuring that leads are tied to ultimate parents, hot leads associated with subsidiaries or branches of companies aren’t ignored, but given immediate priority.
And the good news in Europe is that there is excellent corporate linkage data to ensure that top leads don’t sit in nurture or end up routed to the wrong sales team. That’s because European Golden Record vendors tie contact data to companies and then companies to ultimate parents using registry filing intelligence. Thus, your sales and marketing decisions are based upon account intelligence directly provided by European firms to Companies House (UK), Companies Registration Office (Ireland), and other official business registrars.
Adopt Account Based Marketing
In short, what I’ve been describing are elements of an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. For ABM to work, both sales and marketing must agree on an ICP and then focus their energy on top accounts. Without an agreement on best accounts, ABM will be another failed revenue growth strategy.
ABM provides a basis for shared metrics and a common operational objective (growing revenue at ABM accounts). It also provides a justification for a shared data enrichment and scoring regime and greater synchronization of data, process, metrics, and goals.
So, let’s mix our chocolate and peanut butter. Let’s make some revenue magic!