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Sales and Marketing, Assemble for Full-Funnel ABM

By Betsy Utley-Marin

Everyone loves a good team-up. From TV show crossovers to box office-busting superhero movies, we love the idea of separate individuals coming together as a team to take down villains, change the world, and fight for a common cause. Aside from the enjoyable experience of watching different people interact with others (Avengers comedy, anyone?), these team-ups create new victories for us to celebrate.  

The same could be said for alignment across the revenue team: marketing, sales, and often customer success. Like saving the world, each team has its own way of doing it, special power, or function. But it’s easy to overlook that everyone works towards one goal: revenue growth. 

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy that B2B organizations use to target high-value accounts that accelerate pipeline and revenue growth. It requires personalizing the buying journey for best-fit accounts instead of marketing with a one-size-fits-all approach. Successful ABM requires understanding your best-fit customers and providing a robust customer experience that secures the most value. 

Sales and marketing alignment is key to executing an account-based strategy that drives revenue impact. And yet, these two teams are the most guilty of falling victim to misalignment.  

The problem with sales and marketing team misalignment 

According to Harvard Business Review, a whopping 90% of sales and marketing professionals report misalignment in terms of their organizations’ strategy, process, culture, and content. Nearly all respondents of the same survey believe this misalignment harms the business and its customers. 

The problem is that while sales and marketing teams essentially work towards the same goal—to increase sales pipeline and revenue—each team’s success has traditionally been measured differently.  

Marketing has historically been measured by the number of leads generated for the sales pipeline. For sales, success is measured by revenue generated by closed deals and the impact of those engagements on the deal value and length of the contract. Revenue targets depend on the volume and value of the sales pipeline, which both teams are responsible for. 

But what happens when the revenue target is missed? Like two kids fighting over the same toy, they often point the blame in the other’s direction when one doesn’t get their way.  

According to LeanData’s Sales and Marketing Survey Pulse report: 

  • 51% of marketers surveyed rated the communication between teams as unsatisfactory; 53% of sales reps are unhappy with marketing support 
  • 38% of sales reps surveyed stated they are unaware of marketing’s goals 
  • 68% of marketers say that up to half of their marketing-qualified leads are ignored or disqualified by sales; 51% of sales professionals say they disqualify up to half of the marketing-qualified leads they receive 
  • 48% of sales said they don’t trust the pipeline and revenue attribution numbers that marketing reports, while 39% of marketers said they don’t even trust their own numbers

Do any of these pain-points sound familiar? As challenging as they appear, these conflicting complaints and concerns can be resolved with a thoughtful strategy that considers how each team can assist the other. 

Why sales and marketing alignment is so important  

“The only way to win is together.” – Iron Man

Tony Stark is right. Marketers looking to deploy ABM efforts NEED sales to succeed. This alignment is crucial to achieving the full-funnel, personalized customer experience that leads to higher ROI of your media investment and customer lifetime value. 

By our definition, full-funnel ABM is activating content and messaging relevant to each member of the buying committee through the entire buyer’s journey and beyond. This includes customer retention and expansion efforts. When done right, marketing and sales teams can deliver the necessary customer experience to accelerate every stage of the sales cycle.   

Why does this happen? When you provide customers with a robust and personalized experience, they are more likely to trust and remain loyal to you based on the education and value you provided over their purchase decision. You become their preferred vendor, and that translates to more investments, longer contracts, and predictive value for your revenue. It is the North Star of ABM. 

Who is responsible for creating this amazing customer experience? Is it marketing through content and campaigns? Or is it sales through good conversations and strong pitches? 

The answer is both. 

A great customer experience is based on trust. Customers must trust that you have a solution to the problem they’re searching for and that you’re the best fit solution overall as they progress through the buyer’s journey. This requires an aligned marketing and sales effort focused on impactful messaging and a strong customer experience, even after you close the deal.  

Remember, you can expect sustained and long-term revenue from that relationship when you maintain customer loyalty and trust.  

How to effectively bring your sales and marketing teams together 

“We’re better together.” – Captain America 

Cap gets it. Without combining your efforts, you can’t create an exceptional customer experience in a full-funnel ABM campaign. That’s the next level of ABM. Full-funnel ABM changes how we think about the pipeline, meaning that the accounts you prioritize will be fewer, but the chance of conversion in the pipeline will be greater. Additionally, an always-on, full-funnel ABM strategy: 

  • Lifts engagement rates with content 
  • Accelerates accounts through the sales cycle 
  • Increases the average value of account orders 
  • Closes more pipeline opportunities 

So, sales and marketing need to stay on the same page to target and convert these accounts successfully. 

Once your sales and marketing teams understand the need to collaborate, it’s time to take steps to better align your data, resources, and goals. Consider these three steps: 

  1. Increase Communication: Good things happen when people start talking. Set regular meetings to discuss goals, create strategies, align on what prospects and customers need to invest, and plan the content and resources required to succeed. So many issues arise between sales and marketing due to simple misunderstandings of the other’s roles and activities. Keeping the lines of communication open between these teams will help eliminate confusion before it becomes a point of contention.  
  2.  Share Goals: While we’ve already covered that sales and marketing work towards the same goals, these teams rarely align on the same metrics and KPIs to reach them. It’s essential to establish standard metrics that track sales and marketing’s combined performance alongside individual achievements. This ensures that teams share the responsibility of meeting revenue goals and, more importantly, finding opportunities to improve processes as they work towards achieving them. 
  3. Combine Data: Data is the backbone of any successful ABM campaign, and you can’t have a strong ABM campaign without incorporating both sales and marketing data. Aligning both teams’ data provides a fuller picture of your target accounts and their buyer’s journey. This allows you to deliver a better customer experience that will increase brand trust and loyalty. 

How technology makes this alignment easier 

“We have to be willing to put our egos aside and work together.”– Thor

Nicely said, Thor. When sales and marketing efforts and activities are aligned, it translates to revenue gold. However, getting to a rhythm of constant collaboration can be harder to achieve. Both teams will find alignment success more attainable by leveraging technology to integrate their tools. 

If you’re not integrated, you’re not alone. A 2022 report from Sharpspring and Ascend found that only 12% of sales and marketing professionals surveyed said their marketing and sales tools are fully integrated. The report also found that the sophistication of the integration between tools directly impacts the customer experience and enables the delivery of personalized content and interactions that customers crave. When sales and marketing integrate their data and have a holistic view of how both team’s strategies are performing in one spot, it’s easier to ask and answer questions like: 

  • Are we engaging with the right accounts to deliver the most pipeline value? 
  • Are we activating the best content at every stage of the buyer’s journey to accelerate the deal in the pipeline faster? 
  • Are we receiving lots of high-value accounts, or are most duds that do not convert? 

Most importantly, integration helps you achieve a full-funnel ABM strategy by breaking down those marketing and sales data silos. You’ll have the data and insights needed to activate content and messaging to the right account on the right channel at the right time.  

At Madison Logic, we call this always-on, full-funnel ABM strategy Journey Acceleration.  

Journey Acceleration unifies all your data and insights into our ML Insights combined dataset, which removes silos to align on the accounts most likely to purchase through our MLI Score. Within the ML Platform, you can integrate your sales (CRM) and marketing (MAP) platforms to leverage data and insights from campaigns, in-market research, and your pipeline to gain a holistic view of your best accounts.  

And we do this in an automated way, so you’re receiving real-time insights that you can use to trigger successful targeting, nurturing, and content best practices through ABM Content Syndication, Display Advertising, and Social Advertising with LinkedIn. That’s the always-on component. 

Get ready for the next great team-up: marketing and sales 

 “If we can’t figure out how to stop working against each other, we’re going to lose.”– Black Widow

We agree with Natasha Romanov. Sales and marketing misalignment is estimated to cost US businesses more than $1 trillion annually. LinkedIn also finds that 60% of professionals believe that a misalignment between sales and marketing damages a company’s financial performance. That sounds like a loss to us. 

When we think about full-funnel ABM, it starts with sales and marketing alignment. Appropriate content and messaging from marketing based on the buying journey and the sales process can be served to each account, and the intimate knowledge sellers have of their prospects and clients can help bolster the efficacy of a full-funnel program.  

In any great team-up TV show crossover or superhero movie, there’s always a scene where, despite their differences, the characters learn they must come together to achieve a tremendous objective and save the day. And while we can’t guarantee inspiring music will play in the background as your marketing and sales teams join forces, the truth is, collaboration isn’t just possible but will be mutually beneficial for achieving success.  

Betsy Utley-Marin

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