5 Reasons Your B2B Sales Team Needs Account-Based Marketing

June 2, 2017

Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared on

Would your B2B sales organization benefit from an account-based marketing strategy?

Account-based marketing (ABM) focuses on marketing at the account level rather than just the lead level. But in reality, it’s about much more than just marketing.

ABM gets your sales, marketing and customer success teams all on the same page by focusing on the acquisition/retention of best-fit accounts and turning them into advocates for your brand. At Terminus, we try to “drink our own champagne” with ABM, and it’s helped contribute to our growth. Wondering if ABM would benefit your B2B sales team?

Here are five reasons why your B2B sales team needs account-based marketing:

1. Your sales team hates marketing lead lists.

If your sales team is like mine, they hate having to sift through lists of countless leads from their marketing team because the percentage of leads that are actually qualified is really low. They feel they can find better accounts faster by doing their own prospecting rather than having to disqualify a large portion of every marketing list.

In part, this is because the definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL) is still insufficient for many B2B organizations. Many times, the quality of the MQL is based on the activity and title of an individual instead of the quality of the account the individual comes from.

As a sales leader, when I train new sales hires on how to maximize their outbound prospecting efforts, I train them to find accounts that meet our ICP (ideal customer profile) and pursue only those. Based on our research, we know that the accounts that meet our ICP are much more likely to buy our product and to do so at a higher price point. These accounts in our ICP are the most efficient for the sales team to invest time in. We want our definition of what an MQL is to reflect the quality of an account.

I recommend focusing on MQAs (marketing qualified accounts) instead of MQLs because an MQA requires that multiple contacts be engaged in an account. At many companies, MQLs can actually slow the sales team down.

2. Your marketing team is currently nurturing one (maybe two) contacts per account.

If your marketing team is only nurturing one or two contacts per account, they’re missing a huge opportunity to accelerate pipeline. As a result, your sales team has to do the legwork to identify and then win over the rest of the decision-makers at every account they’re working.

“But wait!” you might say. “How can I nurture contacts I don’t have in my database?” Simple. You can use account-based marketing technology like Terminus to expand your reach within accounts to contacts that are not in your database.

In other words, if a curious intern at a target account attended your webinar, you can use ABM tools to automatically reach other contacts at that account. As a result, you can get your solution in front of the entire buying committee instead of one or two individuals.

This means:

  • Your marketing team has already generated brand awareness across the account by the time your sales team reaches out to prospective buyers.
  • Your company will stay top-of-mind as the account progresses through the buying cycle.

3. Your marketing team’s primary goal is generating leads, not pipeline.

According to a 2015 BrightTALK survey, 53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on lead generation. The problem is, less than 1% of B2B leads turn into customers. That’s a huge chunk of your company’s marketing budget down the drain.

When you adopt account-based marketing, your marketing team will shift their focus to pipeline rather than lead generation. As sales leaders know all too well, a lead is only useful if it turns from a prospect into an opportunity — and eventually into a happy customer.

When shifting the focus from volume-based marketing to a targeted approach, it’s important to measure account progression instead of lead generation. In other words, how many of your target accounts are progressing from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next, and how quickly is this transition happening?

With a good ABM strategy, both of these metrics should increase. Your sales team cares about account quality and win rates, so it’s time to get marketing onboard too.

4. Your marketing team runs campaigns without input from sales.

Prospective customers don’t distinguish between your sales and marketing teams. You have one brand. When marketing deploys a campaign without collaboration from your sales team, they’re leaving room for a serious disconnect.

If prospective customers Bob and Lucy are talking to a sales rep about your product and your marketing team sends them an email with mismatched messaging, they’re going to get confused or possibly lose trust in your business.

Account-based marketing is all about complete alignment between the marketing and sales teams or “smarketing.” Here at Terminus, we have a smarketing meeting first thing every Monday so all our team members start the week on the same page.

The most important thing here is collaboration. In order for your marketing team to support the sales pipeline, leaders from both teams must plan for a joint go-to-market approach. This often means you have to take some time in order to plan ahead, but I can tell you from experience it’s worth it.

Important questions you can answer for your marketing team include:

  • What activities drive engagement within your target accounts?
  • What kind of content is most effective in moving an account from one stage of the buying cycle to the next?
  • What common objections do you see from prospective customers?

Bottom line: Your marketing team should sync up with sales before running any new campaigns, and your sales team should do the same before trying out new messaging or sales email cadences.

5. Your company is using email as its primary marketing channel.

If your marketing team frequently uses the term “email blast,” you could probably benefit from ABM. Whether they’re blasting the same emails to the entire database or they’re relying heavily on lead nurturing, they’re missing a huge opportunity to engage with prospective clients.

Emails can easily be ignored, and this approach requires marketing and sales to have contact information for each contact in an account, which is far from scalable for most companies. It’s important to use a multichannel approach to increase the likelihood of getting your prospect’s attention, and to maximize the number of contacts you can reach in the account, as some individuals prefer different channels.

Account-based marketing allows you to engage your target accounts across multiple channels. For example, the Terminus platform lets you reach stakeholders not in your CRM across social, mobile, video, and display channels with digital ads, even if they haven’t been to your website. Other ABM technology can facilitate engagement and account progression at-scale via channels like:

  • Direct mail
  • Events
  • Personalized videos
  • Interactive content
  • Your website and blog

All Signs Point to Account-Based Marketing

Not doing account-based marketing will cost you – literally. Read The Cost of Delaying Account-Based Marketing to learn how. Fortunately, the ABM space is full of technology that will help your B2B company overcome marketing, sales and customer success challenges. Click the banner below to explore dozens of ABM tools and build your ideal account-based marketing stack.

Vice President, Sales

Tonni Bennett is the Vice President of Sales at Terminus, the leading account-based marketing (ABM) platform. Tonni is a sales leader with an accomplished background at several tech startups including Salesforce Pardot, PeopleMatter and SalesLoft. Since joining Terminus in 2015, Tonni has scaled the company from one account executive to a sales team of more than 30 “Terminators”. Accolades and recognition for Tonni include Sales Leader of the Year from the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and Atlanta’s Power 30 Under 30. Through Tonni’s contributed efforts, Terminus was named the #1 Best Place to Work in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and #1 in Employee Appreciation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.