Three biggest mistakes companies are making doing ABM – Sangram Vajre
Sangram Vajre is the Co-founder at Terminus, 2x Author, Host of #FlipMyFunnel Podcast, and Speaker and loves doing #LinkedInLive. He is the foremost authority in Account-based marketing or ABM.
As one of the key speakers at the B2B Binge 4.0, US version, he sheds light on the three biggest mistakes the companies adopting ABM Strategy make. He also shares how to implement ABM strategy effectively, the right time to implement the process, and answers various queries of the audience.
So, coming to the mistakes most companies make are
1. Too much focus on demand generation. Companies often forget that money is in the sales pipeline. Instead of just focusing on getting more and more people in the channel, focus on individual leads. Give them enough attention and care to convert them into leads. The more you focus on nurturing the leads, the better are your chances of converting them.
2. Companies are spread too thin. Businesses try to focus on every product and service they have. Lack of focus is a significant issue. Take your best performing product or service to the market and evolve as the market needs. As you focus on a single product, you are very likely to care about every lead that comes for that product and will try to convert them into deals. The prospects will receive enough attention to become your customer. Focus all your efforts on a single product. If you are good at something in marketing, double down your efforts on that and make conversions happen. For example, if you are great at doing events double down on it and have fantastic events.
3. Enterprises often forget that the brand drives the demand. Most companies are skeptical about spending dollars in the marketing budget during a crisis. During the crisis, be more data-oriented and focus on the areas of marketing that is yielding results. Improve and make more efforts on the channel. Make the best out of those channels. Once you start doing this, leads will start flowing in. During a crisis, people become strict with their spending. They want to put the money in the right places. Unless you market yourself in that way, businesses won’t make a deal with you. So keep nurturing your brand during the crisis. Make yourself visible to others while you double down on the marketing efforts that are working for you.
Create the best possible marketing ecosystem around your product that makes your leads and customers feel valued. If they don’t feel valued, they will not invest in your product even though you claim to have the world’s best product. It can help you rise above the noise and will help you build the most significant possible brand you can be then.
Focusing your efforts in a single direction will take you a long way than a distributed focus over many things. Account-based marketing is about having focused efforts on leads and converting them to leads.
AMA with Sangram Vajre
Q- Personalization for account-based marketing is effective, but what should we avoid the most to keep thriving in it?
A- The deeper part of that question, if I could indulge, is; I think many people go and think about personalization as the first thing they have to do, and they have to go all in. That’s not true. They need it, so for example, Snowflake is a great company. They do well at ABM. There are tons of really amazing companies are doing. But I realized I’m using them as an example because I’ve seen their company-operated well. They started doing one-to-one campaigns because that’s a completely different level that we’re talking about. But it seems crazy to think that I can’t do one-to-one campaigns. I have these 50 different things to do. I got a social post, blog, webinar, ebook. I can’t do a one-to-one campaign well. That’s where we get it wrong. A one-to-one campaign doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dropping everything that it means that you’re going after what Snowflake did. They made sure that they tiered the accounts and came up with the top 50 accounts that they knew needed to be closed. For each of those accounts, they created a landing page like snowflake.com/levis. on that page. They had Levi’s logo and a snowflake logo. So in eighty, ninety percent of the content was the same, but about ten to twenty percent content showed anybody coming to the website that particular page that they cared about that brand. Then they had advertised to drive people to it. If anybody comes to that page, they don’t need to have a forum because that page is for the people who are interested in it because of the ad they had.
Salespeople email so anybody clicks on that link. We created a personalized link for you on that page with a video from the salesperson and story of a company in the same industry. So they saw that their customers were spending three to twenty minutes on that page as opposed to a bounce rate that most of us have people jump in and jump out of the websites. So personalization doesn’t start with doing everything. Snowflake did all of this with three interns, and that’s my whole point of this whole thing.
I think we look at personalization as like we got to change everything. No, it would be best if you started with the smallest possible thing variable that you can have and then start adding layers to it is another quick way to think about this at scale. Now that was one-to-one at scale. At Terminus some time back, Tori said, “You can start with advertising. Just take manufacturing as an example. If you’re going after that industry, let’s say there are 100 companies you’re going after. You start advertising to those companies, let’s say five of those companies start coming to your website. Now you add the next level of personalization. You now send them an ebook that is for the manufacturing industry-specific to that there’s engagement. You go to the next level and say, now I need to send direct mail to them because now there’s an investment from that. So you create a more priority of which accounts your sales team and marketing can create more personalized engagements on as opposed to going in and doing all those ten things.” I think that allows you to tier it and focus. Make sure you’re spending time, energy, money, and resources on the accounts that matter right.
Q- How do you reduce the time process of ABM, or should we be patient?
A- If you can get the work done in for you, so would you pay extra to get some work done sooner rather than take two hours. And if it’s like ten bucks more, would you spend that and depending upon what that work is. The majority of people would say Yes. I would if I have to us all the time to pay for the convenience. That’s why Ubers of the world and all these things work because we’re paying for convenience. I think the speed many times is the reason it becomes an issue is that we haven’t given up the old to try something new. And until we do that, we will never be able to succeed in the new if you still have the same goals of the number of leads, number of downloads, number of attendees, and all that stuff. I can understand the pressure you’re like, almost like I got all of these things, and then you add another ABM it’s not balancing out because you still have all this stuff. You got to drop some of them to focus on this.
One of the best ways I’ve seen companies do that, and we did that in terms of the early days. When we learned that that was the problem because the common problem is we reduce the number of accounts that we are focused on. so one big question that everybody should answer if they don’t have it right now is, “What is your total addressable market (TAM)?” People think their tam is 10,000 accounts or 50,000 accounts, or 100 000 accounts. The reality is that’s that is your overall market size, but what is your TAM for this year. We should be saying, well, we need to close only 100 accounts. The majority of the companies, even like we have a thousand customers today. We probably need to close no more than 200 accounts or maybe 250 accounts for the rest of the year, and we’ll hit our number. So if all we have to do is 250 accounts, then going after 10,000 accounts makes no sense. How about we go after 500 accounts and create great experiences for them, and they are probably in your pipeline. That is why I say my money is in the pipeline and turn them into customers. So I think the question is how do you get rid of all the things that are weighing you down so that you can focus on the right accounts that drive business outcomes. For that, you have to learn to stop some of them now in most organizations. That’s a challenge because your executive team is probably saying, “Hey, I need these numbers to see a leading indicator.” so you have to balance that. I started taking out some of the metrics and saw if anybody reacted to it, and nobody did. So slowly, I started to take out the vanity metrics and put our business outcome-oriented metrics. In and over a period of a year, I saw that nobody cared about website traffic, downloads, what our market stack looked like, but what people cared about was our coverage on the pipeline is. The conversation was different.
We have 50 percent of our tier-one accounts less engaged. We need to create a strategy to focus on that or 90 of our accounts are in high tech and very few in manufacturing. So we need to create more campaigns around that your executive and your board-level people can engage them. In that conversation, if you take off the pressure of these metrics, that is weighing you down. So it’s not that the time is moderate, so we’re focused on too many things. We need to get back to what’s the business is. And one more thing people are talking about like the brand play right like we are doing and other companies also do. How do you map that with the leads and the revenues you say that that is not something you can measure. But that is something almost every business is measuring at this point. So any data points that you feel are the right point to measure.
Q- How do you measure branding with leads and revenue?
A- Vanity metrics will kill it. So, for example, I run a podcast called “flip my funnel.” it’s a daily podcast I do once a week, but there are other days that the community runs it. I would do that podcast even if I get zero downloads. That’s because I’m interviewing people I want to build a relationship with. I’m interviewing customers who ended up booking their stories when I interviewed them on the podcast.
We’ve closed over 100,000 deals because of the conversations. So if I put it in the revenue terms, it has far excelled the vanity metrics of a channel of the podcast. If I looked at as a channel, so my big recommendation for everybody is that not looking at things as channels but look at things as a flywheel. Not how many people attended it now. You might want to look at how many of the people who attended this are part of your top tier accounts because not everybody’s going to be that. Then you would report on saying, hey, we had a 100 people joining in 10 of them are over top tier accounts. So let’s start focusing on top tier 10. now the 90 are important, and they’re great for the halo effect of it. But then instead of giving all 100 leads to your sales team, you give only 10 to follow up on a conversation. The metrics can weigh us down, and we can very quickly look at false positives and look at success. Success is actually how many of those ten accounts became your customers in the next six months. Now suddenly, you have 20 people speaking about you, and they all know your brand. That is a big metric. How many big brands that you have as your partners now are also part of this? So it’s a flywheel effect, and I think it’s on you and people like you to demonstrate, share, and level up the conversation internally. It is not a download conversation. It is about building a brand. It is not about getting 10 million in revenue. It is about building a hundred million dollar business. So it’s an up-leveling conversation that you have to have.
Q- How to keep sales and marketing teams aligned in ABM?
A- The sales and marketing team’s alignment is the most age-old challenge right from the beginning of time. I honestly think marketing and sales in your organization or not have to have the same number. If they don’t, that’s when the challenges happen because somebody’s celebrating and somebody’s crying. That doesn’t go well. So if marketing is celebrating when sales are not hitting their numbers, they’re going to be fired in the next month or next quarter. There are the days where if the salesperson does not follow up on a lead, then it will go to the manager as an alert, and if two days, they won’t follow up. It will go to the VP of sales.
Kill all those SLAs( the service level agreements) that shows that there’s no trust. The whole MQL, SQL, SAL, and all these things that marketing have they’re all the unfortunate things that have been created because sales and marketing don’t have trust. You go and ask any salesperson what your top 10 accounts you’re working on are. They will tell you without even looking at any CRM. If a marketer can figure out how you can engage those ten accounts and help them close those ten deals in the next quarter that they need as opposed to giving them net new leads that they have nothing to do. That’s one of the biggest reasons why they don’t focus on leads from marketing. Those leads are not for the ten accounts that are going to put a paycheck and keep their job. So if you give a marketer, they have ten deals that they have to close. They’re very close to competition. But now you said now we have 100 more leads here you go, and they’re like, okay good job marketing but my ten deals I need to close. So I think marketing needs to have a tremendous amount of sales empathy. Sales start with zero every single month, every single quarter. If we are creating leads other than the account that they need to close in that month and quarter without giving them the air cover they need in that month and quarter, then we’re doing a disservice to the entire profession.
Q- To scale ABM, we have to have a multi-channel strategy. What are the most important elements we should consider while we are doing that?
A- To do ABM at a scale you need to have a multi-channel strategy. I feel that ABM is a strategy. It’s not a tool or technique. You can do ABM today in your organization with whatever you have. You can scale the technology and things. Maybe a better way to think about this is how do you want to have the greatest amount of impact and great customer experience for the companies that you’re trying to make them your customers. If you look at them as individual channels, you will lose right because no individual channel will override each other. It might have lasted first touch and all, but it will never overwrite the cumulative things that you would be doing to bring things together. A great ABM is an all channel campaign that should include high tech, which would include advertising or intent data to give you proactive insights or web experiences in chat. So if somebody comes to the website, you will know who they are, and you’re having that conversation. The salespeople are reaching with the same message that’s in the ad, so you have that coordination. Then ultimately, you send them a direct mail that connects the dots for them. That is the utopia for your really big tier one accounts. It would be best if you did it one of the things I did say in my book “ABM is B2B” that some accounts, you need to treat them with champagne and some with sparkling water. That is the big thing every account that you have gets the same experience no matter what. You’re making a big mistake and a big disservice because you’re tweeting a million-dollar account the same as a ten thousand dollar account. That’s a broken marketing program. Your accounts do different things for different customers. The more they get engaged, the more prioritized experiences you can create.