When it comes to strategic account planning, having a long term account strategy is essential, as is forming a relational strategy, which is what we have discussed in the first two parts of our series. When you combine those two things, you can develop an Account Based Marketing (ABM) program that will truly set your organization apart.
It’s common for sales teams to just look at known opportunities. That’s a logical perspective if you are only trying to win projects (known projects will most likely have a decision timeline within the next 12 months). But you are only looking at one piece of the puzzle, which means you are missing out on initiatives and goals. There is a gap here.
We challenge the clients we work with to fill in this gap and think beyond known projects or the upcoming pipeline to find or create opportunities. It’s beneficial to find out what the company’s initiatives are, what their goals are and come up with new ideas you can bring to the table as a sales person.
If you look 24 to 36 months out and try to lead the customer buying process, you can provide insights connecting to big trends in the marketplace. You can introduce big ideas to help keep companies in the forefront to lead their markets. This is often difficult for sales to do on their own.
Enter Account Based Marketing. ABM is a solution many corporations are using these days, often driven by marketing and supported with technology. To be most effective, ABM needs three legs to the stool: sales, marketing, and product.
But often, sales is not always properly included. As we’ve mentioned, sales needs to do a lot of work in building relationships and navigating through organizations. This gives them significant insight about the top people in the organization and what’s important to them. They find out that “Mr. CTO” is really interested in learning about three particular topics and he is very early in his buying cycle. But marketing doesn’t always go to sales to learn about this insight, and instead puts out unrelated content and ads about other topics that “Mr. CTO” is not interested in. Most companies don’t factor sales into the equation to connect everything together.
Sales people should communicate with marketing about the insights they discover so that marketing can do their part with putting out appropriate content and ads.
It’s this holistic program that allows you to understand the company’s strategy and develop a pipeline for what we know will happen in the next 24 to 36 months. This is where opportunities can be found. There may not be a project yet, but you are creating connections that will help the customer achieve the goals they are developing initiatives for right now.