The advent of the internet has offered advantages few could have dreamed of a few years ago. While outside sales (or just plain, traditional sales) has long been considered the poster child of growth in companies, inside sales is now gaining more attention thanks to its promise of great results at a much reduced cost.
The trend itself wasn’t hard to predict. As internet communications have become more commonplace, many companies (especially smaller startups) stand to benefit greatly if they shift to an “inside sales” model wherein reps reach out to prospects thru digital means rather than personally meeting them.
Why inside sales matters.
Inside sales, also called “remote sales,” refers to reaching out to prospects over the phone or via internet services such as email or VOIP, rather than personally. The idea itself is not a new one. Telemarketers have been reaching out to prospects via telephones as far back as the 1950s. But that was never really a better alternative to a good ol’ personal meetup. Truth be told, nothing can replace actually meeting someone and having a talk with them. But as the means of communication have increased, so have the ways to put your ideas across.
Today, inside sales has become the dominant method of selling for a number of big ticket B2B items such as SaaS and PaaS. Sales rep need not reach out to prospects directly as whatever they needed to be there for can now be done remotely thanks to proliferating internet communication services, increasing bandwidths, and growing consumer comfort with buying online.
Companies can save a lot more by having their sales rep meet their prospects virtually rather than arranging meetings and paying for their travels. In fact, inside sales is expected to replace traditional sales by 2020, as the advantages it offers are far too numerous for companies big and small to ignore.
How account-based marketing can help inside sales reps.
While inside sales is proving its value time and time again, it has limitations. Typically, sales reps identify one decision maker to reach out to and focus all their efforts on. Such an approach can yield poor results as oftentimes organizations (especially large ones) have multiple stakeholders who decide on the best course of action based on company policies. This is especially the case when sales worth hundreds of thousands of dollars are being made. Companies are more likely to buy from vendors that help generate the most trust and confidence.
Account-based marketing (ABM) gets around this problem by focusing on an account (that is, a list of highly relevant prospects) as opposed to one executive. It accomplishes this by aligning sales and marketing through all the parts of a company’s sales funnel. The result is a far more personalized approach to marketing where each decision maker is offered material based on their choice rather than the same message blanketing the decision-making chain.
So far, ABM is proving to be an invaluable strategy, one that can help companies get the biggest bang out of their marketing buck. An ITSMA study shows that 87 percent marketers have found ABM to outperform other marketing investments significantly. There are several advantages ABM offers that can help your inside sales teams get better results.
Implementing account-based marketing strategies.
ABM offers an alternative to B2B marketers who wish to be more strategic in their efforts. Consequently, it recommends a method where a separate marketing strategy is designed for each account by targeting its own unique pain points. That said, there are some general guidelines that can be used to formulate a marketing strategy.
Focus on identifying the right set of prospects.
As identifying the right prospects is still cited as the biggest challenge in ABM, it would be best to first focus all your efforts to get a list in place. A holistic effort that includes inputs from both your marketing and sales team is needed here. Data types that you can use here include industry, company size and annual revenue. Hubspot has an awesome list of questions to identify target decision makers that you can look into.
Research each account as deeply as possible.
Since ABM is all about personalization, research is not optional. You need to understand not only the macroscopic environment in which your target account operates, but their internal policies and goals as well. It is best not to just go by job titles, as they can be misleading. Instead, each department with its roles are a better starting point for your strategy.
Create a content strategy for the account.
Now that you know who you will be talking with, it’s time to get your messaging in place. Instead of creating new (expensive) content from scratch, it would be better if you first tried to repurpose existing content. Experts on creating content for ABM suggest either a simple personalization system where some of the aspects are tweaked or a super-personalized approach in which content is created for specific accounts.
Know which metrics to track.
The success of any marketing system is entirely dictated by whether the relevant metrics are identified and tracked. While regular marketing and sales measure metrics based on people, consider creating KPIs around accounts when implementing an ABM strategy. Some useful ABM metrics that you can use to know whether you are on track are marketing qualified accounts, account-wide engagement rates, reach within an account and in-funnel conversion rates.
Review, refine, re-implement.
As with all things marketing, your first attempts will probably not get the results you desire. Using previous attempts to make your next one better is more worthwhile than throwing out the strategy and starting from scratch. The idea here is to constantly rule out assumptions, figuring out what is really working for you. Nowhere is this more important than ABM as it is untested waters. While all the stats point to the fact that it is a great way to market, whether it works for your organization will depend entirely on how well it is implemented.
While ABM may be the new kid on the block, by all indications, it’s here to stay. Marketing and sales alignment has long been the sought after holy grail for companies wishing to get the most from their outreach efforts; the advent of ABM is the first well organized step in that direction. While the ideas mentioned here are usually suggested for large ticket accounts, there is no reason to believe that better personalization and understanding of a prospect’s key problems won’t garner results for small- or medium-sized organizations either.