B2B Demand Generation

Bring BANT Into the Future

with TelAffects

Nature vs. Nurture: The Benefits of Account Based Nurturing! (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2 of my post “Nature vs. Nurture: The Benefits of Account Based Nurturing,” I explained, that as sales and marketing professionals, it was in our nature to give way to the tried and true results that come from discipline and diligence. Because we are commissioned to find better ways to drive sales and increase revenue, we are naturally inclined to the next big thing that promises with less time, less effort and less expense we will finally get our buyers to raise their hand and say, “pick me.”

We discussed how, over the last decade, B2B companies had staked their hopes on a marketing “automated” world, where disciplined outreach and nurtured relationships gave way to a belief that complex humans could be reduced to buying personas and digitally funneled into purchasing transactions. And after a decade of expense and belief in an automated world, we were left with the reality that most companies have little more than 30% visibility into their target markets and their flow of actionable sales opportunities isn’t enough to meet demands of revenue forecast.

We also discussed that Account Based Marketing (ABM), or what I like to call Account Based Nurturing, provided a solution to many of our self-inflicted problems. I call it “Account Based Nurturing” because it’s a better description of what needs to be done to gain greater visibility into the actionable sales opportunities that exist in your target markets. And lastly, we discussed how today’s sales and marketing challenges were yesterday’s challenges, and they will be tomorrow’s challenges. That the more things that have seemed to change, the more things that have actually remained the same. That as a strategy, Account Based Nurturing was the best path to a consistent flow of sales opportunities that could generate a predictable revenue flow because it positively affects the three key elements to every B2B sales transaction:

  1. nurturing the “right relationships”
  2. positioning the “right message”
  3. aligning to the “right timing”

As previously stated, deployment of an Account Based Nurturing strategy has the greatest potential of solving most revenue generation problems because it generates a consistent flow of sales opportunities. But a commitment to this strategy requires a commitment to identifying and engaging 100% of the Decision Makers in your target market. It also requires a disciplined and diligent outreach to nurture those relationships into sales opportunities. But the rewards are well worth it. According to the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey, ABM, or as we call it Account Based Nurturing, delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic. And according to Alterra Group, 65% of B2B marketers agreed that ABM provided significant benefits for attracting new clients.

So, if you’re interested in enjoying the benefits of Account Based Nurturing and you’re  anxious to deploy the strategy, then there are five critical components that will require your focus, diligence, and discipline.

  1. Targeting & Segmentation – you’ll need to begin by delineating between your addressable market and your target market. Simply stated, your addressable market is defined as all companies, business units, and functional areas that “have need” for your product and service offerings. Your target market is a subset of your addressable market and represents all companies, business units and functional areas that “have a greater need” for your product and service offerings. Once your target market has been properly identified, then segment the target market by profit opportunity and sales probabilities to deploy the appropriate sales models (i.e. field sales, telesales) that have the highest propensity to close sales profitably. You can then further segment your target market by verticals and/or functional areas.
  1. Gaining Market Visibility – once you understand your target market, the majority of your marketing and sales resources should be consistently focused on gaining market visibility, engaging decision makers and nurturing relationships into sales opportunities. To gain market visibility, you must set your mind to identifying 100% of the companies within your target market and routinely engage 100% of the decision makers within those companies. This takes time, discipline and diligence, but the payoff is well worth it. The good news is that there are some really good data sources for identifying contact information and gaining critical business intelligence on every company in your target market. But to gain visibility into your decision makers, you will have to augment these data sources with outreaches to validate contacts and capture all the decision makers relevant to your offerings.
  1. Accessing & Engaging Decision Makers – while there are multiple ways to access and engage decision makers, outbound marketing is the only path to a consistent flow of actionable sales opportunities that drive predictable revenue streams. Outbound marketing is as predictable as Newton’s Third Law. While there’s not an “equal” reaction to every outbound action, there is a reaction, and these reactions are measured in terms of response rates or conversion rates. Content and inbound marketing tactics are helpful and can be less expensive. They are needed to augment our outbound efforts. But they are too passive, by design, to yield predictable results. So a commitment to Account Based Nurturing requires that you be diligent in gaining 100% visibility of your target market. And with that visibility, you engage 100% of your decision makers through outbound marketing and disciplined outreach.
  1. Nurturing & Recycling – this is a basic concept, but it’s perhaps the most critical element in an Account Based Nurturing strategy. The path to predictable results and a consistent flow of actionable sales opportunities requires disciplined, diligent and cyclical outreach to your decision makers. You must develop and deploy nurturing cadences and recycling strategies to develop the right relationships, through the right messaging for the right timing. A “relationship” by its definition is a human interaction that is personal and situational between two people. By definition “nurturing” is outreach from one person to another… it cannot be a self-selection activity. So, if you want to develop and nurture relationships into sales opportunities, you will have to deploy cyclical outreaches that are personal and situational. Personal in the fact that they are person-to-person and situational in the fact that they build on previous interactions and outreaches.
  1. Pipeline Provisioning – the last component of an Account Based Nurturing strategy is knowing when and where to transition nurtured sales opportunities to the individuals responsible for completing (closing) the sales transaction. This relates to the discussion regarding the target market and deploying the appropriate sales model that has the highest propensity for closing sales profitably. The size of your target market will be a significant factor in how and when you provision sales pipelines.  The Harvard Business Review: “Making The Consensus Sale” revealed that on average 5.4 decision makers are involved in every B2B purchase transaction. So if your target market is 10,000 companies, then you’ll have to develop plans to identify, access, engage and nurture 54,000 decision makers on a cyclical basis. This is where some of our marketing automation tools can help us, but they won’t be able to deliver the personalization that can only come from human interactions. For that, you’ll have to deploy phone based or field based interactions. However, the size of your target market, the costs of field interactions and cost of your field sales reps will restrict that choice.  A successful Account Based Nurturing strategy typically requires a pipeline provisioning model that deploys specialized phone-based resources (sales development reps) to engage decision makers and nurture sales opportunities to a point where it is more profitable for field sales reps to engage.

As I have said, more than once, Account Based Nurturing is not an easy, quick fix to our sales and marketing problems. Today’s challenges were yesterday’s challenges, and they will be tomorrow’s challenges too. All B2B transactions will continue to turn on having the right relationships, having the right message and having the right timing. It will take time, diligence and discipline but ultimately Account Based Nurturing will be your best path, and perhaps your only path, to a consistent flow or sales opportunities that produce predictable streams of revenue.


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