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October 16, 2018

Account Based Sales & Marketing: Often Discussed, Rarely Understood

frydenborg-podcast

GUESTS: Chuck Frydenborg and Mariana Just from Acrolinx

 

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Often discussed but rarely understood, Account-Based Sales (ABS) and Marketing (ABM) are the buzzwords of the industry. How has this new approach changed B2B Sales?

To find out, we invited Chuck Frydenborg and Mariana Just to come on the B2B Revenue Executive Experience podcast. Chuck serves as Vice President, Global Sales and Mariana as Director of Revenue Marketing & Operations at Acrolinx, an AI platform that uses linguistic analytics to improve corporate content.

“ABM and ABS are game changers,” Chuck and Mariana told us. Their creation is due to the dramatic change in the demands and expectations of B2B salespeople.

In the past, sales professionals had to be experts in their companies because potential buyers had no way to know anything about the company other than what the enterprise told them.  Buyers don’t need salespeople to do that anymore, however. Instead, they need salespeople who understand their pressure and the market dynamics that restrict them and then to explain how their company is well positioned to solve those issues. It’s now an intellectually diverse landscape.


How Chuck and Mariana Got Started in ABS and ABM

Chuck explained that when he graduated from college, he still didn’t know what he wanted to do. Living in Stanford, CT at the time, Chuck signed on with Gartner, one of the fastest growing companies in the area; And as a sports-oriented guy, naturally, he joined the company baseball team.

Most of his teammates worked in sales, and before long, Chuck noticed that while they were no smarter than he, they certainly drove nicer cars. He inquired about a career in sales and within four years, he had moved through research and client service so he was knowledgeable, articulate, and experienced. Gartner sent him to a sales territory in north Jersey.

Unlike Chuck, Mariana always knew she wanted to go to business school even when she was a girl growing up in Brazil. During college, Mariana got interested in marketing technology since that was the middle of the Martech storm. She held her first internship in a company where they were using Salesforce in 2003 when Salesforce was just emerging. All that experience got her terribly excited about marketing. As a tech junkie, she quickly embraced technology for marketing.

Today, both Chuck and Mariana work at Acrolinx, a company that ensures that all the content their clients create aligns with the clients’ content goals specifically tone, style, and terminology and that it’s targeted to their ideal client personas. Clients talk about their goals and style with Acrolinx, and computational linguists put what Acrolinx learns into their technology platform. When writers throughout the world create corporate content, Acrolinx’s clients filter it through the platform, which reviews it against the company’s stated goals. Acrolinx can make instant recommendations to the content creators when changes are needed. In short, Acrolinx makes it possible for thousands of writers across the globe to write with one voice.

 

"Being consultative means being an expert... You need to be be an expert about their business."
 
Chuck Frydenborg,
Vice President and Global Sales
Mariana Just,
Director of Revenue Marketing & Operations at Acrolinx
 
 

Teams in an Account Based Setting

Adopting an account based strategy doesn’t change the profile of a salesperson. Companies still need to hire for the same characteristics. A good Account-Based Sales professional remains disciplined about approaching an ideal client based on a profile. They don’t run around plucking the low-hanging fruit. Sales leaders can help by structuring the team so that marketing and sales are highly collaborative.

At Acrolinx, Chuck is transitioning from a geographic territory model to a vertically oriented territory, which integrates better with his particular setting, goals, and resources. He recommends assessing and compensating a sales team by doing three things:

  1. Creating a compensation plan with high clarity and no ambiguity;
  2. Designing a plan that attracts the behaviors you want;
  3. Structuring the compensation plan around performance.

 

Creating a Marketing Plan that Aligns with Sales

Aligning sales and marketing comes down to one word: discipline. Understand why you are getting into account based work in the first place. Does it make sense for you? Are there multiple buyer personas you need to account for? Make sure you can get everyone on board because account based structures are hard. Even though marketers everywhere have the account based marketing buzz, don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it.

Mariana recommends a four-stage approach to alignment:

  1. Account Selection – This is the process by which you make decisions around how many accounts you have per rep. Do you want to work one-to-one or at scale? Are those existing accounts aligned with ICPs? Pro tip: Keep your sales reps in the marketing conversation right from the beginning.
  2. Account Planning – Ask questions such as: How many contacts do you have per company in the database? What acquisition tools do you need? Are you targeting the right titles and personas?
  3. Engagement Planning – How are you going to market? Are you going to do both physical and digital outreach? Will you have a theme around your campaign? No matter how you answer these questions, it is critical that you project manage the engagement stage really well.
  4. Measurement Planning – What will you measure before you go-to-market or launch your campaign? What are your KPIs? It is a good idea to structure your measurement in three phases so you have early indicator KPIs for the first three weeks (these will make or break you); another set of KPIs for 30-90 days focusing on overall content engagement increase; and a third set of KPIs for the 6-12 month time frame when you are looking at overall funnel velocity and deal closing numbers.

In general, get back to basics. Personalize your campaign. Brand the campaign. Use direct mail. Get people’s attention at whatever level is appropriate for their level in the funnel.

One great thing about Account-Based approaches. They make you keep sales and marketing aligned and leave your egos at the door.

"Demonstrate value through your expertise about their environment."
 
CHUCK FRYDENBORG,
VICE PRESIDENT AND GLOBAL SALES
MARIANA JUST,
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE MARKETING & OPERATIONS AT ACROLINX

 

This post is based on an interview with Chuck Frydenborg and Mariana Just from Acrolinx. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.