May 17, 2018
In the old days, marketing was simpler. We had the 4Ps of product, price, place and promotion. Marketing departments would define all of it, and watch the sales come in. Or not.
But over time, the 4Ps have been split out. Responsibility for product went to product marketing. Pricing was given to finance. Sales went to, well, sales. And customer support was separated out to a dedicated team. This left marketing with promotions and public relations.
The result was a silo of teams not working together. It created an inefficient structure where sales and product marketing looked down on the marketers. Indeed, more often than not, product and sales people thought that if the product was good enough it would sell. If it did, it was because of their genius. If it failed, it was because marketing was rubbish. This determined view that great products sell comes in spite of the hundreds of examples of where many great products have missed out to less good products with better marketing. VHS vs Betamax is the example that business schools cite as a case study.
But things are changing. The complexity and sophistication of technology, the rise in analytics and automation, and the emergence of social channels that afford more one-to-one communications means sales and marketing are working closely together again.
Account-based marketing (ABM) has been one of the drivers of this renewed collaboration between sales and marketing. By targeting specific companies and stakeholders inside specific brands, marketers and sales can develop multi-threaded, multi-channel, and multi-touch campaigns that build long lasting relationships.
This is a vital tactic when targeting named accounts. In a recent study we conducted with 250 B2B decision makers based in the UK, over five people are involved in a B2B purchase decision and over half of all decision makers were under 35. This finding is echoed by Google in its B2B research. Moreover, ABM has been increasing in popularity since 2016 according to Google Trends.
Of course, you will say that sending an email, attending an event or inviting the customer to Ascot is nothing new. It’s not. But what is new is the need to ensure the content is carefully tailored and specific. The days of a few core messages being sent to all targets is gone, because end-users now expect to be ‘understood’. Targets will be saying, ‘if they want my business, they have to really know me and my needs.’
This means more types of content, more understanding of buying personas, and harnessing analytics in order to make every interaction more personal. ABM is not new, but it’s got more sophisticated. And because of that, sales and marketing must work together for the simple common goal: business growth.