A Perfect Match: ABM and ABS – research by Whiteoaks International

Earlier this year we set out to understand whether senior Sales and Marketing decision-makers working for B2B tech brands are truly operating within an Account-Based Sales (ABS) or Account-Based Marketing (ABM) framework. And if so, how it works best for them, what goals they have and the challenges they face. In our view, either structure can be summarised as a business-to-business (B2B) strategy that aligns both marketing, and/or sales resources and strategies, to categorise, build relationships and target companies or accounts into prioritised groups rather than on an individual leads basis.

The driver behind this research

So, why did we want to understand this area? ABM and ABS have become established buzzwords in the industry and within in the B2B technology space. We increasingly see the benefits of integrated, inter-dependent marketing and sales partnerships, co-ordinated with the same objectives from the top down. When that is in place, marketing communications professionals and their agencies can deliver true value for their brands. And, on a tactical level, we also wanted to know how companies’ marketing output influenced lead generation and which forms of marketing communications made the biggest difference. The result is what we believe to be the first study in the UK, examining both ABM and ABS, rather than just one or the other.

Critical to our intention was to understand the views from both Marketing and Sales leaders. To us, they are not functions to be viewed in isolation.

Highlights

This view is backed up by our research, with 87% of Sales and Marketing professionals stating that their department is very closely or closely aligned with their colleagues. This alignment directly challenges the myth that often rears its head: that Sales and Marketing teams are at odds, with different priorities, objectives and methods.

Our data shows that use of a CRM system is currently at 59% uptake for both prospects and clients and 88% for one or the other audience. This ability to capture, record and action information about both prospective and current client data, ideally in the cloud and complemented by a Marketing Automation Platform, goes much of the way to explaining why these two departments and their leaders are working in an ever more integrated way.

Yet, the CRM platform is only part of the story. The success of high-performing B2B tech brands operating in an account-based model to execute their sales strategy has, over the last few years, prompted some of those high-performing businesses to convert their marketing operations to run in the same way. In fact, 81% of the 202 professionals we surveyed said that they work to either an ABM or ABS operating model.

Our study shows that at a communications delivery level, social media and email marketing are viewed as the top two most effective ways to facilitate interactions with clients and prospects by both groups of professionals. Media relations, case studies and testimonials held stronger value for Marketers, demonstrating that more work is required by PR and communications experts in persuading Sales colleagues to understand their benefits in the overall marketing mix.

What really stands out from our research is that 89% of the 202 business professionals agreed that their company’s marketing efforts contribute to sales and lead generation. The value added was measured most widely by inbound sales enquiries to the website, the number of enquiries from social media channels and, interestingly, leads captured at events, either the company’s own or at industry conferences.

Our research continues

In a few weeks, in a new blog focusing on the second part of our research project, ‘A Perfect Match: ABM and ABS’, I will look in-depth at the goals and challenges of those 202 Marketing and Sales leaders to implementing an account-based way of working.

Suzanne Griffiths, Managing Director, Whiteoaks International

Download our free report, ‘A Perfect Match: ABM and ABS’ today, by filling in our contact form below. In it you’ll find out:

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