With expectations from the CEO and the boardroom continuing to increase, B2B CMOs are deepening their focus on proper strategy and planning for the New Year to streamline the customer journey and drive measurable results within the marketing department. This includes reinforcing better alignment, targeting and measurement strategies that can help bolster account-based marketing campaigns and have a positive impact on revenue goals.
This was highlighted in detail at this year’s Strategy & Planning Series, a week-long digital event designed to help B2B marketing and sales teams prepare for the New Year by identifying new tactics and strategies to drive demand and offer personalized customer experiences. More than 2,000 marketing and sales professionals registeredfor16 sessions covering topics that range from account-based strategy to marketing measurement and content development.
The series presented on a recurring theme of increased expectations from B2B CEOs for their CMOs to drive measurable business results. Scott Armstrong, Partner at Brainrider, highlighted research during his presentation that showed 80% of CEOs have expressed dissatisfaction with their CMOs. This can be attributed to the growing demand by the CEO for CMOs to present the most accurate performance measurements, as well as build the right team to produce a seamless B2B customer experience.
“Certainly, being a successful B2B CMO is still a tough job. There is a lot of pressure to deliver measurable business results,” Armstrong continued. “That pressure isn’t new, but it does feel like that pressure is increasing every year. The CMOs job is about strategic priorities, planning, building the right team and execution.”
He went on to highlight a framework cheat sheet that describes the specific priorities that each main division of the marketing department should follow:
- CEOs & CMOs should prioritize key business objectives: revenue growth and customer growth;
- CMOs & Marketing Directors should prioritize customer engagement, demand generation and sales enablement; and
- Marketing Directors & Marketing Managers should prioritize tactical improvements, such as audience development, key offers and overall creative.
“Thinking of your marketing performance dashboard with all three of those stakeholders in mind allows you to get each level of that team focused on the right measurements and decisions,” Armstrong said. “That’s a great way to manage your C-suite both through resourcing at the right levels, marketing and collaborating on the right initiatives.”
The growing need to work as a synchronized team instead of a baton handoff has led to an even greater emphasis on the importance of sales and marketing alignment around data, insights and customer interactions. Jon Miller, Founder and CEO of Engagio, highlighted research during his session that showed close to three-quarters (74%) believe sales’ awareness of marketing campaigns is important to win their business. Furthermore, companies see an average of 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability when sales and marketing teams are aligned.
“There are three levels of [ABM alignment] maturity here,” Miller noted during his session. “Level One is to get everybody looking at the same data. Level Two is to proactively share insights between marketing and sales teams to actively alert one another of key insights or actions that need to be taken. Level Three is where teams start working with one another to coordinate interactions at scale.”
To drive better ABM alignment and coordinate interactions at scale, Miller suggested incorporating “ABM Stand-Ups” into B2B business practices. This involves meeting once every two weeks between the marketing, sales and SDR teams to talk about specific accounts. Those insights are used to decide what actions to take and create unique experiences for these target accounts.
“Getting these three departments talking on an ongoing basis seems to do wonders in building alignment and working smarter within the organization,” Miller noted.
Identifying Account ‘GODs’ For Person-Based Marketing
Executing targeted plans to reach stakeholders at target accounts, all while overcoming measurement and analysis challenges, was discussed at length during the week-long digital event. Interdepartmental alignment was a crucial discipline to proper ABM measurement, planning and execution for the New Year and beyond.
During a webcast with the enterprise networking and security company Cato Networks and the person-based ABM company Influ2, presenters noted that account-based success requires B2B companies to redefine their target audience rather than their ICP. Dmitri Lisitski, CEO of Influ2 noted that high-res ABM requires target audiences to be refined down to the specific group of decision makers — what he refers to as “GODs” — to take targeting down to the individual stakeholder level.
“The fundamental ideas stay the same,” Lisitski continued. “You have your ideal customer profile, but when you execute on it and try to transform your profile into specific custom audiences, you have to take different approaches. You still define accounts you want to target, but then you have to ask, ‘who is making the decisions within these accounts?’”
For example, Cato Networks was looking to aim at larger, enterprise-level accounts. However, limited resources and longer sales cycles made targeting and engagement difficult. The company worked with Influ2 to help identify these key groups of decision makers within these target accounts, better positioning the company to identify the right content and messaging that provides genuine value to their buying journey. The company has seen notable upticks in account reach, impressions and engagement by taking a more high-res approach to their targeting efforts.
“It’s important to invest in enriching your focus segments to find those valuable leads that you just can’t get to engage with you in any different way,” said Merav Keren, Marketing Director at Cato Networks, during the session. “Focus your resources on the high-potential audiences; while it is a smaller audience, it will likely yield better results.”
The 7 Key Areas Of ABM Collaboration
Attendees also came away with tips and best practices for better ABM alignment from initial prospecting to measurement and reporting. During her session, Nani Shaffer, Senior Director of Demand Generation at Demandbase, noted that account-based strategy cannot reside solely in the marketing department for it be effective.
“ABM should not be a siloed initiative,” Shaffer said. “This is not a strategy that belongs exclusively to the marketing department. Make sure that the sales team is a critical counterpart all the way through account identification to reporting.”
Shaffer went on to highlight seven key areas where marketing and sales should be collaborating extensively for more streamlined account-based practices:
- Account List Identification: Identifying key accounts to target based on past sales engagement with current clients.
- Campaign Ideation: “If sales reps know what works for their accounts, that can be a helpful resource to consider when building campaigns,” Shaffer said.
- Prioritization and Selection: “Sales reps can share input on where accounts should be followed-up with by sales or by marketing,” Shaffer added. “What behaviors warrant follow-up from sales versus marketing?”
- Messaging: Collaborating on content and messaging that aligns with sales plays and prevents disjointed communication.
- Execution: Ensuring campaigns and information flow seamlessly between both the marketing and sales departments.
- Sales Enablement: “The goal is to ensure that no insight or inquiry is left untouched,” Shaffer noted.
- Goals and Reporting:“This involves identifying how we tie traditional sales metrics into marketing measurement strategies overall,” Shaffer concluded.
After setting up clear priorities and expectations, Shaffer added that formulating clear goals will help highlight that collectively, the entire business will succeed when working together on their account-based initiatives. This then leads to a better understanding of how performance can be measured and how each department contributes to the company’s overall success.
“Ultimately, the goal is to understand which channels and sources are contributing to revenue, forecast pipeline based on current volume of accounts engaging with particular channels and sources, as well as figure out how to optimize spend,” Shaffer concluded.