Sales and marketing partnership: Walking in step


This is done in collaboration with LinkedIn for MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Partner Insights series.

In the information era that we are living in, marketers are often vying for the attention of potential customers to effectively drive revenue for businesses. A simple solution to this is account-based marketing (or ABM).

Given that account-based marketing is an extremely focused strategy, it allows businesses to position their products or services to a set list of high-value accounts, in a way that shows each account the most relevant messaging and offers.

This kind of focused approach shows targeted clients that not only do the companies pitching to them understand their business and challenges, but also that they value them enough to create expert marketing and sales experiences to specifically meet their needs.

This effort and focus can go a long way in building solid relationships with your highest valued account prospects.

Arguably, one of the biggest advantages for ABM is the drive for better conversion by enabling the sales and marketing teams to work together better.

According to a study done between LinkedIn and HubSpot, implementing an ABM strategy for your business can help get your sales and marketing teams to foster a close bond and get on the same page, encouraging a higher level of collaboration. And while that collaboration will obviously benefit your ABM strategy, the benefit extends beyond account-based marketing.

Having a sales team and marketing team that know how to communicate, collaborate and effectively partner on projects can make a huge impact on your ability to better grow and scale your business.

The speed at which account-based marketing deals close can vary. Because ABM is best suited for B2B businesses with long sales cycles, and often involves many decision makers, it can often lead to an extremely fast close, but because closing the deal generally requires a sizable investment on the account side, the sales cycle can sometimes stretch a bit longer.

Given that ABM allows for marketers to measure their ROI with the right tools and metrics at hand, marketers can also come to the aid of the sales teams by sharing the right insights to drive future strategies to ultimately drive sales and conversions.

How to get your teams on board

Creating and implementing a successful ABM strategy is completely dependent on your sales and marketing teams being able to collaborate effectively.

“Sales and marketing teams often don’t have a lot of overlap and typically work separately, so they can face big challenges when put together to form an ABM task force,” said Gil Burgmans, senior partner manager at LinkedIn.

They may have different ideas about what success looks like for their team, a different opinion on strategy and a lack of familiarity and camaraderie which makes collaboration difficult and will result in a less than successful ABM roll out.

So how, exactly, do you bring everyone together and make sure sales and marketing work as a well-oiled machine instead of struggling to create a spirit of cohesion and collaboration between the teams?

Be clear

The first step is to have clearly defined expectations and responsibilities. When you’re bringing together teams or individuals who aren’t used to collaborating, it’s important to be clear on expectations and who is responsible for what.

Unclear boundaries may sow discord and leave teams stepping on each other’s toes – leading to a less collaborative work environment.

Senior business leaders need to ensure they clearly define expectations and responsibilities for the task force. Some guiding questions include:

  • • What role does sales and marketing play in each step of the process?
  • • How do you expect both teams to work together?
  • • How should sales and marketing work it out if they have a difference of opinion on strategy?

The clearer you are on expectations and responsibilities from the start, the easier it will be for your teams to tackle their tasks and work together to bring the strategy to life.

Build relationships

Business leaders need to ensure that they encourage team building when bringing members from the sales and marketing teams together to work on an ABM strategy.

Teams have to foster a sense of familiarity and camaraderie, be it through team building exercises, workshops or casual get-togethers, that can help your sales and marketing teams get to know each other before they jump into the ABM process.

Getting your sales and marketing teams to collaborate effectively isn’t a “one and done” kind of deal; instead, business leaders are going to continually need to touch base, see how things are going and adjust the strategy as necessary.

“Sales may feel like marketing is stepping on their toes – or vice versa. Teams may not feel like they are working towards the same goal or end result because they are not aligned on the strategy,” Burgmans said. 

Schedule regular reviews, identify improvement areas, and celebrate wins 

As such, teams need to ensure regular meetings with your task force to review progress, identify areas for improvement and celebrate wins.

“Team building exercises or events can help your sales and marketing teams get to know each other before they jump into the ABM process,” he added.

Not only will addressing any hiccups and identifying areas for improvement help you to continually optimise your ABM strategy and encourage better collaboration within your team, but regularly celebrating wins will help your team feel recognised and appreciated – and will keep it committed to making your ABM strategy a success.

However, it is vital to remember that no matter how well your task force works together, at some point, there’s bound to be some tension or minor issues. What is important is to stop those minor issues from spiralling into much bigger issues; it’s vital to address them – and deal with them – as soon as they arise.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of using Hubspot’s ABM software and integrations with LinkedIn Pages, Ads and Sales Navigator you can download the free e-book “How To Implement An ABM Strategy”.

Read also:
5 growth principles B2B marketers need to embrace today
The power of emotion in B2B marketing