Co-written with Andrea Tucker, Director of Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud
Lead generation and lead management both play an equally important role in fueling the revenue engine for your business. Where lead generation creates interest among your target audiences, lead management tracks, manages, and engages these leads to qualify them for sales.
However, the rules of B2B engagement are quickly changing. Brands are embracing account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, which revolve around engaging the right buyers, not just generating thousands of unqualified leads. It brings together the right people in your organization to develop coordinated strategies for engaging, converting, and expanding target accounts. As B2B organizations prioritize lead quality over quantity, marketing and sales must take a sophisticated, data-driven approach to lead management. According to SiriusDecisions, there are three ways organizations can think about this:
- Large accounts: “A very small number of large existing or targeted accounts.” Some call this “one-to-one,” as this is when they employ highly targeted marketing and engagement tactics, such as including the company name in a piece of content, landing page, etc.
- Named accounts: “A moderate or larger number of defined existing or targeted accounts.” This is also known as “one-to-few” ABM.
- Industries/segments: “A moderate or larger number of new or existing accounts in the same vertical or other specific segment,” also known as “one-to-many” ABM.
Effective lead management improves alignment between marketing and sales to better identify and prioritize high-quality leads for sales outreach. This means focusing on key accounts with a high intent to buy. However, few organizations have a solid process to successfully prioritize and identify those accounts, impacting the organization’s ability to reach and exceed revenue targets.
5 Core best practices to ABM success
1. Align sales and marketing around the buyer’s common goal. This has been a popular narrative in the B2B world as organizations work to create more seamless customer experiences across all channels. Every buyer journey is unique. Some may never interact with sales while others expect a high-touch, consultative experience. It’s up to sales and marketing to have unified goals and follow a cohesive brand story and approach to buyer engagement. Therefore, any combination of sales and marketing can be ready to assist buyers wherever they are in the decision-making process.
“The job of defining shared goals may at first glance seem like a marketing job, but there’s a key role for sales operations to play.” says Steve Silver, Service Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. “Sales ops is in a unique position to reach across organizational boundaries and help synthesize revenue generation targets handed down by sales leaders, provide practical suggestions for mapping go-to-market strategy to account and territory assignments, plus translate these decisions into reliable sales forecasting data so that even finance is working from the same clear picture as sales and marketing.”
2. Prioritize accounts. In order to identify and prioritize the right accounts, you need robust, connected data. Company data including location, industry, and revenue, plus online signals such as new acquisitions, hires and funding rounds can help you select accounts that are most likely to buy—even when it may not seem obvious to your sales operations or demand generation team. This data should integrate into your CRM environment, so both sales and marketing have a comprehensive view of the accounts. Marketing can leverage these insights to fuel marketing campaigns while sales can use data to guide account and territory planning. Your ABM approach (one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many) will dictate how many accounts you need to select.
3. Enrich account insights. Typically, sales and marketing have an established lead scoring method, aligning certain behaviors and actions to a numerical value. When leads and accounts reach a specific threshold, they’re officially qualified and handed off to sales. Both marketing and sales should contribute to the lead scoring methodology, accounting for the number of contacts within an account that engage with your brand. These metrics can help marketing and sales understand which accounts may have a higher propensity to buy. For marketing, this helps guide lead assignment. For sales, this helps reps prioritize the leads in their queue and determine where to focus their time and energy. When it’s time to engage, sales can pull from a wealth of account information and smart talking points to guide their conversations with these target accounts.
4. Tailor account engagement accordingly. In their conversations with prospects, sales reps can have deeper conversations focused on the specific contact’s unique situation within the organization. These can be more emotional insights that often funnel up to larger, account-wide issues such as the strategic direction of the broader business. Plus, marketing can relay important engagement metrics, such as an account’s behavioral interactions with campaigns and messaging, so sales knows what resonates. All of these insights transform the selling process from transactional to consultative, helping forge stronger customer relationships. Using innovative technology like artificial intelligence (AI), sales can receive automated actions on how to further engage a contact.
5. Measure and optimize. ABM isn’t just a one-off tactic. It’s an ongoing strategy that should influence the way your entire organization engages with accounts and buyers. That is why having access to real-time insights is critical to ongoing success. Data around campaign reach and impact, sales engagement, and results will help you gauge the impact of your ABM efforts and help you identify opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell within certain accounts.
Reinventing Lead Management for the Experience Economy
In the Experience Economy, marketing and sales should collaborate more closely to ensure they’re delivering on their brand’s promise and exceeding buyer expectations at every touchpoint. It’s the responsibility of marketing and sales to stop thinking simply in terms of lead handoff. Instead, they should think of new ways to collaborate to meet each and every buyer at their point of need. Oracle is dedicated to helping sales and marketing professionals thrive in this era and that’s why the company has once again been named a “Leader” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2019.
Most notably, Oracle has been recognized for native tools and solutions that support ABM strategies. The reason is because Oracle’s deep legacy in data drives product innovation. In the age of ABM, those insights are critical to driving client relationships and generating long-term value for the organization.
Download Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management 2019. You can also contact us to learn more about how the Oracle CX Suite of products can help you reach your sales and revenue goals with engaging, connected customer experiences.
Gartner, Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management, Ilona Hansen, Julian Poulter, Noah Elkin, Christy Ferguson, 23 September 2019
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
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