By Falon Fatemi, CEO of Node, Published in Forbes
There is a paradigm shift coming in marketing and sales that will bring about the end of the “spray and pray” era. Account based marketing and sales strategies have already started this shift, with their focus on quality targeting vs. sheer volume. But the shift won’t be fully realized without a strong foundation to provide on-demand and meaningful insights, which prospects to focus on, and how to engage with them. I call this foundation Account Based Intelligence (“ABI”), and it’s poised to transform the relationships between businesses and their future customers.
Since the birth of marketing automation, the dream has always been 1:1 marketing and sales—a level of personalization where, at the individual level, marketers and sales reps speak directly to each potential customer in the way that’s most likely to resonate with them. To date, a major challenge has kept marketers from achieving that dream: understanding who each person is and what they care about. Understanding people at such a personal level requires a lot of data and intelligence, and until now, it’s been too high of a technical hurdle to achieve.
Instead, the industry has obsessed on workflow automation: how to send more emails, make more calls, buy more ads, track more website behavior, automate content, and so on. The sales and marketing automation space has ballooned in the last two years—with enough automation tooling options to make your head spin. This workflow automation is helpful, no doubt, but it’s only valuable if you’re focusing on the right potential customers to begin with.
The wave of “predictive” lead scoring we have seen over the past few years may have helped a bit, in terms of acting as our “Google GOOGL +0.65% Analytics” for existing CRM and marketing data, but it still rests on the assumption you have the right data in these systems to begin with—who in this world can say their Salesforce data is 100% accurate, with every lead, contact, and account field completed or enriched, let alone up-to-date? As the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. These systems are really only looking at the existing data as a mirror, not in terms of the personalization required to have these tools drive core revenue metrics for the respective organization.
A Better Approach: An Account Based Strategy
Account based marketing has emerged as the first real step toward achieving the marketing automation dream. In practice, account based marketing consists of taking the focused book of business approach used by enterprise field reps and applying it at a broader scale. Applying an account based approach means focusing on a set of target accounts, thoughtfully identified, marketed and sold to in a personalized way, resulting in more qualified prospects coming inbound than ever before.
Think about that for a minute: Account based strategy is facilitating focus, a healthy alignment between marketing and sales, and constant strategic discussion between these functions to identify the right ideal customer profile that will drive higher sales velocity. So why hasn’t every company implemented an account-based approach?
The Missing Ingredient: Account Based Intelligence.
Account Based Intelligence forms the foundation of an account based strategy by providing marketers and salespeople with the information they need to:
Discover the right companies and best people to contact at those companies
Identify the critical moment when customers are ready to buy
Inform your reps of the most impactful things to say to each potential customer
Without ABI, an account based strategy is still based on guesswork – and the ROI is commensurate with that. I’ve spoken with marketing teams spending ridiculous amounts of marketing dollars in order to get in front of eyeballs, of which 1-2% convert. I still can’t believe it when I hear it – it’s 2016! Where else in the business world would a 1-2% success rate be considered a win?
Your Personal Sales and Marketing Analyst
My response to marketers struggling to improve upon a low conversion rate is this: Imagine if you had an analyst whose sole job is to research your total addressable market and identify all of the companies, contacts, and personalized intelligence that you’ll need to sustain your business for the next five years. And now imagine you have this same analyst sitting next to each sales rep and account executive, providing them with ABI that’s personalized for each prospect they’re about to pick up the phone and call. Someone who knows the right talking points to share with each prospect, at exactly the right time. This analyst exists, but it’s not a person – it’s a data platform. At Node, we’re building Account Based Intelligence to make the 1:1 marketing and sales dream a reality.
Gone will be the days of dumb retargeting—the mindless “strategy” where an item you purchased on the web haunts you for weeks, showing up in your Facebook FB -0.39% ads again and again. Instead, imagine getting ads for products you are actually interested in buying, but didn’t know you needed to buy yet. Imagine getting a call from a salesperson for a product you are already in market to buy. Instead of retargeting, it’s actually “right-targeting.”
Imagine a world where your next customer comes to you. I’m happy to tell you that world is closer than you think.