What separates today's most successful account-based marketing programs from those that are inconsistent and unpredictable? And more importantly, how are those organizations training and arming their sales and marketing teams to drive meaningful, scalable results with their most important accounts?
The answer lies in their ability to build, nurture, and leverage their business relationships.
Though technology has made it easier to connect with others than ever before in history, it comes with the caveat that we must also try harder to make a good first impression. Gone are the days of sifting through directories and company profiles, setting and forgetting automated sales and marketing tools, and relying solely on a social media connection to generate pipeline. In an age of automation, one needs to bring more to the table: the power of a relationship.
So the question is: how are today's organizations developing, nurturing, and leveraging their business relationships to drive more meaningful engagement, more predictable pipeline, and more consistent, reliable revenue? That's what we wanted to find out.
To better understand how today's organizations bridge the gaps between relationships and revenue, and more specifically how they do so to find success in their ABM programs, Sigstr and Heinz Marketing conducted a survey over two weeks in June 2018. The responses gathered came from 256 sales and marketing professionals from organizations that range from SMB to large enterprises.
The Power of Authentic Relationships
Relationships are more important than ever before. Where technology gives us the ability to connect with people across the world in an instant, it's up to us to build and nurture those relationships in a meaningful way.
From our research, over 80% of sales and marketing professionals, and nearly 90% of top performing companies, agree - developing authentic relationships is very important to generate revenue.
A Stalled Relationship
Leveraging and developing relationships are foundational to any successful organization, extending their advantages well-beyond the initial steps to get your foot in the doors of high-value target accounts. The right relationships with the right people have the potential to accelerate the sales process, facilitate buy-in from other buying committee stakeholders, and reinforce the value you bring to the table from the inside.
While it's not always easy to ask for favors, it was surprising to see that less than 20% of sales and marketing professionals are very confident in how they move prospect relationships forward at-scale, and only 29% of respondents with an ABM program report the same level of confidence.
Tools, Technologies, and Measurement
While new tools and technologies can make our lives a whole lot easier, it doesn't mean that everyone has the same access to these tools - plus, having a tool is very different from having the right tool.
While 56% of sales and marketing professionals may have a tool that helps identify the network of relationships within a target account, only one-third of those tools can actually measure the strength of those relationships, and less than half of the people who use them are very confident in their accuracy.
And for the remaining respondents without a tool? Less than 9% are very confident in how they manually measure the relationships with their prospects, leaving over one-third of respondents who are not confident at all in how they manually measure their relationships.
Knowledge is Power
Knowing who you're targeting, especially in ABM, is critical to your success. However, just 15% of respondents are very satisfied with the level of information they have on their targeted accounts and prospects, with only one-quarter of respondents with an ABM program echoing this confidence.
When it comes to moving a deal forward, or even getting your first meeting set, lacking those relationships, and more importantly, the insights and knowledge about your targets, their needs, wants, and pain points, presents a mountain of challenges to overcome before success can be achieved.
Let Me Introduce You
Introductions are a powerful tactic when it comes to relationship-building in sales and marketing, and rightfully so. Think of the quality of a message when it comes from someone you've been formally introduced to. It's likely you actually read it as opposed to a cold email from a name you don't recognize at all that you probably sent right to the trash.
Yet while 46% of all respondents, and 1 in 2 ABM users, reported that their outreach is very effective following an introduction, 84% of people reported they sometimes or never make those introductions on behalf of their team members.
While there's something to be said about being connected to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, if they don't actually know who you are, you might as well be cold calling.
Meet Your Champion
A relationship with a key stakeholder or internal champion can facilitate your sales process tremendously, and 96% of all sales and marketing professionals agree that a strong relationship with key stakeholders plays a major role in the outcome of a sale. However, only 36% on respondents report being very reliant on these champions to actually move the deal forward.
While there's something to be said about not wanting to be reliant on others to get the job done, the reality is that no deal happens in a vacuum. Having an internal champion to rally the buying committee and vouch for you and the value you bring to the table can be the deciding factor that determines whether you win or lose.
The ability to develop, nurture, and leverage relationships are what separates today's most successful account-based marketing programs from those that are inconsistent and unpredictable. It's not just being able to understand the importance of relationships, nor is it being able to identify them that brings success. Rather, it is the capacity to build authentic, meaningful relationships that bring success.
While the core of a relationship might not have changed - trust, value, authenticity - the number of ways in which we're able to form those connections has multiplied. But while new tools and technologies make meeting new people easier than ever, it also means we must do more work to ensure that we don't misplace quantity for quality.
We each possess a vast network of relationships. How will you use yours?