Lines are blurring. The B2B funnel is no longer tidily divided between marketing (top) and sales (bottom) because the buying process has grown more complex and less linear.
Account-based marketing and social selling are both practices built for the new era of convergence, encouraging marketers to think more like sellers and vice versa. On Wednesday afternoon at MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Ty Heath of LinkedIn* offered her perspective on bolstering alignment by combining ABM and social selling, while calling out tools and tactics that can aid these efforts.
ABM, Meet Social Selling
At B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange a couple months ago, Sangram Vajre of Terminus kicked things off with an opening keynote in which he declared “ABM is B2B.” He argued that the principles of account-based marketing have become so ingrained in the fabric of B2B marketing that virtually everyone operating in the space is adopting an ABM framework to some degree. This was a sentiment echoed by others at the conference.
ABM has also been a central theme here at MPB2B, in large part because it’s a vehicle for achieving the coveted ideal of sales and marketing orchestration. At its core, ABM is about the identification and focused pursuit of high-value accounts, and it works best when these two business units are fully in sync – sales helps spark relationships and opportunities near the top of the funnel, while marketing helps nurture and advance deals toward the bottom.
As a result of this improved cohesion, ABM can create more consistent, customized experiences for prospective buyers. As Ty stated during her B2B Spotlight interview with Lee Odden last month: “Many folks have been thinking about making account-based marketing part of their go-to-market strategy or maybe it’s already a part of it. I think the primary reason why that’s happening is because buyers expect more … personalization and level of knowledge around the buyer’s needs.”
Social selling (also sometimes referred to more broadly as “modern selling”) can play a critical role in fueling this engine for growth, by driving sales reps to become more active in building their own brands and growing their company’s pipeline. The four pillars of social selling, according to LinkedIn:
Create a professional brand
Focus on the right prospects
Engage with insights
Build trusted relationships
As a complement to ABM, social selling can 工作职能邮件数据库 yield stellar business results… and possibly, a delicious sandwich. “They go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Ty declared.
Aligning at Every Step
It should be clear from the pillars above how much overlap there is between social selling and ABM (not to mention between sales and marketing, under this framework). The blueprints are almost the same.
When active and strategic on social media, sales reps can play a vital role in identifying accounts to pursue, charting the layout of these accounts, and building solid relationships. As marketers, we can lend our expertise to help reps refine their professional brands while also equipping them with quality, relevant content.
Here’s a quick rundown of Ty’s insights on each step:
#1 – Creating a Professional Brand
This isn’t generally second-nature for sales pros in the same way as it is for marketers, but in the modern marketplace, the importance is undeniable.
As buyers take more of the purchase research process into their own hands, they’re increasingly apt to scout a vendor’s online presence before actually engaging with anyone from the company. They size up sales reps based on social media profiles and networks. Ty refers to this as “the conversation before the conversation,” and in some cases, it can be make-or-break.
Marketers can team up with their partners in sales to make sure all public-facing assets are sending the right signals. You might consider checking out these exemplary LinkedIn profiles for inspiration.
#2 – Focus on the Right Prospects
This a crucial moment in the alignment imperative. Choosing the right targets is essential to ultimately hitting the mark with ABM.
“It boils down to, what accounts do you think will be profitable long-term, will be pleasurable to work with, and do you think you can make a real difference for?” says Ty. She warns against being overly broad with account selection but also advises not to get too narrow (aka, hypertargeting).
#3 – Engage with Insights
One of the most valuable aspects of social selling is that it enables reps to learn about prospects and tailor their outreach. Once you’ve selected accounts that look like fits, you can begin tracking potential key contacts. What do they talk about? Whose posts are they commenting on? What kind of content do they share? This is the other side of the “conversation before the conversation” dynamic and it enables reps to start that first real, direct dialogue on the right foot.