Digital Marketing

Account-Based Marketing: Focus on Pipeline, Not Leads

The lead generation funnel has failed B2B marketers; it’s terribly inefficient. We’re taught to spend the majority of our focus and budget on top of funnel metrics – optimizing for lead volumes, and cost per new contact. With the belief that sheer volume will eventually translate into more sales.

However, many of us can recall a time when the marketing team hustled to generate a big pool of new leads, only to find the sales team struggled to hit their Quarterly revenue numbers. So why is there a such a big disconnect between lead gen and revenue?

The chilling reality is that only a sliver of leads turn into sales. Just how feeble is the lead gen funnel? Forrester cites that an average of only 0.75% of B2B organizations’ leads turn into closed revenue.

I caught up with Sangram Vajre, CMO at Terminus, to tap into his thoughts on how to challenge the status quo of a top-down, linear funnel.

Everything You Know is Wrong

Lead Bas

According to Sangram, we need to change everything we know about B2B marketing. The traditional funnel is inadequate because it was originally crafted to fit sales processes. It doesn’t solve the right problems for B2B marketers.

We spend a lot of money targeting anyone and everyone, just to find the right customer. Once we figure out the right targeting, we spend even more money to find out if they’re ready to buy.

With less than 1% of leads turning into revenue, why invest resources into something that isn’t worthwhile?Instead, focus on generating accounts. Rather than prioritizing lead generation, you need to find the right people within existing opportunities that are ready to buy your product or service.

What if we took the existing lead funnel, and flipped it on it’s head? Enter Account-Based Marketing.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing is about optimizing for the customer experience. Focusing on pipeline acceleration, opposed to broad lead generation, which results in tighter alignment with sales and more revenue. Your goal is to increase engagement from key decision makers within your top accounts, using pinpointed marketing messaging.

So, How Do I #FlipMyFunnel?

Account Based Funnel

It starts with focusing on Accounts. Using the tactics of identifying, expanding, engaging, and encouraging advocacy to penetrate your target accounts effectively.

1. Identify

Once you figure out your verticals, finding a list of companies ranked on the Fortune 500/5000 is easy.

2. Expand

Next step is to identify the decision makers you’d like to reach within those companies. It’s not about extending your message to every member of the company, instead it’s about putting your marketing in front of people who would care about your message.

3. Engage

This is often the first step in the traditional lead funnel - putting your message out. Once you have your target account list, you can now identify the right messaging and channels to generate the best engagement with your audience. Resulting in a bigger impact to your core KPI metrics, because everything is tailored to the potential customer’s pains.

4. Advocate

McKinsey reports that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 - 50% of all B2B purchasing decisions.

Recommendations are a big part of the decision making process. Leverage personal testimonials to generate new opportunities in targeted verticals.

What Strategies Work Well with ABM?

1. Generating Buzz Before Events

Typically at events, lead generation is limited to foot traffic who stumbles upon your booth. After the event, we hand over the list of leads to our sales team, or add them to a general nurturing bucket. It’s a big waste of opportunity. Why wait for leads to come to you?

Instead of leaving your event success to the chance of booth location, hyper-target the right companies prior to the event, and drive them to visit your booth.

After the event, use digital advertising to focus your messaging on the best fit decision makers assigned to target accounts. Delivering crafted messaging over the next 60 to 90 days, while your sales team is trying to build a relationship with the prospects.

2. Bringing Dead Accounts Back to Life

Just because your database has tens to hundreds of thousands of contacts, doesn’t mean it will yield a high volume of customers.

Contacts may have switched jobs, or may they not be the best champion within a company. Using digital advertising, such as LinkedIn Ads, we can find additional champions within existing accounts - breathing new life into the opportunity.

3. Nurturing Leads Through the Sales Process

Leads that are nurtured by marketing tend to have a higher likelihood to turn into a sale, and often result in a larger deal size.

Instead of shutting off marketing after a lead requests a demo, instead continue to tell a compelling story, and align content as members of the account continue through the decision making process. This requires reaching key stakeholders through a variety of mediums, not just email. Allowing the prospects to consume content on their terms, which increases engagement.

4. Providing Air Cover for Your Sales Team

It’s likely that your sales team knows your ideal customers better than marketing; because they speak with prospects everyday. However, with up to 17 stakeholders influencing an enterprise tech decision, it’s very hard for your reps to reach every decision maker within each account.

Sit with your sales team and ensure marketing is focused on influencing champions within your reps’ target account lists. Digital advertising can help sales get their foot in the door with key prospects at a fraction of the price of traditional marketing channels - such as outdoor billboards.

5. Catch the full interview from the webinar, "How Digital Marketing Can Drive Revenue for B2B Marketers".

Curious to learn more about Account-Based Marketing?

Learn from industry leading practitioners at the #FlipMyFunnel Conference in San Francisco. Check out the outstanding collection of speakers and use the promo code “ADSTAGE50” for 50% off the ticket price!

Flip My Funnel Conference - 50% Off

AdStage Team