If you are looking to implement an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, you need to get a team of organizational leaders together. This team will offer immense value in numerous ways, but the largest is organizational alignment. Without your entire organization is on board with ABM, an account-based marketing strategy won't work.
Unlike other marketing methods, ABM fundamentally changes the way your organization interacts with customers. People are typically averse to change, which is why you need the help of the leaders from a few different departments.
So, the question then becomes, how do you create this leadership team?
The Quick Checklist for Building your ABM Leadership Team
When you build an ABM leadership team, you want:
- People from a few different departments (Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, Customer Success, and Product Development)
- People that are team players
- People that are optimistic
- People that are curious
- People that will advocate for ABM
To attract the right people, make sure you communicate in the language they speak.
- Finance and Executives want to discuss profitability and ROI
- Operations want to speak on developing better processes
- Customer Success want to discuss how to ensure customer satisfaction
- Product developers want to create the best products
- Sales want bigger deals to close faster
When you can discuss how ABM makes all of these areas better, people will listen and want to help implement this strategy.
By finding the right people and engaging them on their terms, you will increase your chances of creating an effective ABM leadership team, creating organizational alignment, and massively impacting the bottom line. Need help getting the team together? Schedule a call.
What Departments Should You Look In?
Depending on the size of your organization, there could be numerous departments that could become involved in your ABM leadership team. You want to include numerous departments, but it's not reasonable to have a representative from every department.
The question you need to ask yourself is, "What departments can provide me the different perspectives on what a best-fit customer looks like for our company?" One of the objectives of this leadership team is to provide a comprehensive look at your customers to determine the traits for your best customers.
The most apparent department would include a representative from both your sales and marketing teams. Consider your chief marketing officer (CMO) as the marketing representative. They can inform both the marketing department and executive leadership on the work the ABM leadership team accomplishes. Additionally, you will likely want a sales VP or a Sales manager present to represent your sales efforts.
Of all the pieces that need the most alignment, sales and marketing need to start functioning in lockstep. With that said, marketing and sales often only know information on the interactions before a prospect become a customer. You will need to bring in other departments to get a full picture of a best-fit customer.
These other departments would include operations, finance, customer success, and product development departments. Each of these departments will provide a unique perspective on the best-fit customer for your organization.
Every business has unique differences, but the departments listed above are frequently found in every business in some capacity. There could be other departments unique to your business you should consider including. Just remember that you don't want this team to become so large it becomes difficult to allow every voice to be heard.
Finding the Right People
If you walked up to someone in finance and asked them to join a marketing leadership team, they are likely not going to agree. Most people are comfortable working their job and staying a little isolated in their own department.
ABM doesn't work when every department is siloed. ABM works when you have an entire organization pursuing the same goal. So as you are looking to build this team, the people you ask need to exhibit a few characteristics.
- They are team players for the entire company. These people think a bit outside of the box and push themselves outside of their comfort zone to help move the company forward. These people will naturally find themselves in leadership positions.
Look for someone in your selected departments that has some level of leadership and influence. You will likely find your team is predominantly Managers, Directors, and VP's.
- These people are optimistic. Working in an environment where your team is excited about an endeavor from the beginning makes the journey much more enjoyable and successful. On the flip side, a lack of positivity can make progress and momentum challenging to maintain.
By engaging optimistic, energized team members early on in your ABM process, you will have team members who keep you motivated and motivate others in the organization.
- These people are curious. As mentioned above, most people in finance won't have much interest in marketing. If you find curious people, they will take an interest in the opportunity to learn more about the other departments they work with. Additionally, they will find something interesting in the data they see, further explore, and bring their findings to the rest of the team.
If you can find optimistic and curious team players in a few key departments, you will have overcome the major ABM obstacle of organizational alignment.
Getting the Right People on the Team
Most people in your organization don't care about views from your target audience, increased social media engagement, or the amazing multiple-channel digital marketing campaign you launched. They care about the metrics that directly affect them and the overall business.
So, the easiest way to attract these people to the team is to speak their language.
- Finance and executives love talks of ROI, profitability, and increased customer lifetime value. Talk to them about how you need their help to identify what traits make your existing customers the most profitable.
- Operations perk up about efficiency and streamlining processes. Talk about how you want to streamline your marketing and sales cycle to onboard customers more quickly.
- Customer success obsess over customer satisfaction. Talk about how you want to understand who our happiest customers are to attract more customers like them.
- Product developers always want to improve the quality of their work. Talk about how you want to create systems that provide constant feedback that will lead to up-selling opportunities.
- Sales want to know they will be able to more easily close deals. Speak to sales reps on how you want to create highly personalized content to engage decision-makers of high-value accounts, so accounts become more likely to close.
Everyone wants to talk about increasing revenue. Connect the dots between marketing dollars and increase company revenue through ABM in the beginning. Once they see that ABM directly correlates with the bottom line, they will start to make other business decisions through the lens of ABM. If, as a marketer, you can start bridging the gap between siloed departments, you will begin to attract more time and resources to accomplish ABM.
ABM is a long-term commitment requiring time, alignment, and advocacy across the organization. As the ABM leadership team continually makes decisions through an ABM lens, organizational cohesion will become a new normal. But your work isn't done just because you got everyone on board in the first place.
Start to Advocate for ABM
Once you have the team together, you will likely see many on the team naturally engage with the ABM strategy. They like their insight, and input is valued. Engagement is good, but you need advocates for success with ABM.
Engagement is going through the process, being part of a program, actively participating in the ABM tactics within your organization. Advocacy speaks to the continued promotion and working side-by-side to produce results that show why account-based marketing benefits your business's bottom line. Advocacy is what you should strive for when you create your ABM leadership team.
The account-based marketing process doesn't stop at initial alignment. For ABM to succeed, it's critical to advocate the ridiculous results account-based marketing brings to the overall companies goals.
It's not just a matter of getting people excited. Account-based marketing is a strategic organizational initiative. You will strategically work with the executives mentioned previously to create cross-department alignment and continue to foster that alignment down to the technology you use.
Key Points for Building Your ABM Leadership Team
Overall, the ABM leadership team can make or break an organization's account-based marketing initiative. It is the duty of leadership to:
- Create shared focus across the organization
- Staff for the account-based marketing initiative
- Communicate clear ABM and business objectives to the organization
- Reset expectations throughout the process
- Ensure compliance among team members
- Constantly collaborate to create the best results
You want your team members to:
- Confirm that ABM is the best strategy
- Define primary ABM business objectives
- Determine how success is measured
- Create the target account list (based on the criteria from most successful clients).
The process of building your ABM leadership team can be viewed as part of a larger 90-day alignment journey to Sales and Marketing alignment. The leadership team's biggest impact falls in the first 30 days with approvals and alignment. The impact from ABM leadership continues with philosophical alignment and advocating ABM as campaign and program results begin to form.
Your ABM program is only as strong as your ABM leadership team and its actions in the organization. To create lasting account-based marketing success, your ABM leadership team needs to be the primary advocate for the program and maintain accountability across the organization. It makes future business decisions through an ABM lens. This will create a successful platform for you to take the next steps to ABM success.
Our friends at Terminus have a helpful timeline to ensure you have Go-to-Marketing success with ABM. Check out this resource for a detailed timeline of how to implement ABM quickly and effectively.
Creating this team and cross-company alignment often brings challenges. If you'd like assistance in the creation and execution of ABM, please schedule a call today.