Are Your Marketing Automation And CRM Systems Ready For Your ABM Strategy?

Salesforce CRM marketing champion leading the practice for EigenX, specializing in manufacturing, higher education and financial services. 

If you are a marketing or customer relationship management (CRM) leader looking to execute your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy this year — or are in the middle of the strategic plan — these are questions that may be at the top of your mind: Is my marketing automation system ready for our ABM strategy? Does our CRM system keep our sales team informed of our ABM strategies? How do we measure the results of our strategy and give visibility to the entire organization and keep them aligned?

At the core of every ABM strategy, there are multiple considerations involved, including the ideal customer profile, trust and cooperation with sales, a unified customer website experience, channel partners, commerce and service aspects, and the measurement of results. So, how do we include these parameters in both our CRM and marketing automation systems and ensure that they have the capability to make the ABM strategy work? Here are the top three questions you should ask:

Is segmentation performed in the CRM system first and then propagated to the marketing automation system? 

For most ABM strategies to work, it is important to have the firmographic information in your CRM system. Attributes of your accounts like number of employees, average revenue, forecasted revenue, industry, sub-industry and enterprise size are key data that will need to be maintained in your core CRM system. If the marketing team pulls this data from the marketing automation system and never syncs it with CRM accounts, it will cause misalignment between the sales and marketing teams in executing the ABM strategy. So, make sure that all the segmentation starts within your CRM system. It is also a good idea to use third-party data suppliers to augment your in-house data, thereby ensuring your marketing team has the latest information in your CRM system to start the segmentation process.

Are your sales and marketing teams seeing the same ABM results?

One of the keys to the success of an ABM strategy is the alignment of sales and marketing teams to make sure both teams are on the same page throughout its execution. This means that both teams should have access to the same data in both the CRM and marketing automation systems. One of the challenges that prevents this from happening is that campaigns are executed in marketing automation systems and are seldom pulled into the CRM systems in which the sales team lives and breathes. Here are a few tactics CRM teams should use to ensure alignment:

1. Sync campaigns in both the CRM and marketing automation systems and ensure they are synced at regular intervals.

2. Roll out campaign metrics from marketing automation systems to CRM systems to measure the performance of campaigns.

3. Ensure collaboration on the ABM strategy happens within the CRM system and that all artifacts related to the ABM strategy are maintained in one place that is accessible to both teams.

Are the key metrics of your ABM strategy accessible and actionable?

As part of an ABM strategy, most organizations have high-level key performance indicators (KPIs), like a pipeline increase or core revenue growth, to determine its success. There is general alignment on metrics from sales and marketing on KPIs but few ways to measure the results in CRM systems. To make this happen, here are some key tactics CRM teams can use:

1. If the key metric is a pipeline increase, develop a way for the CRM system to connect opportunities with ABM campaigns. Even though opportunities are created by the sales teams, automatically tagging opportunities to the ABM strategy will help measure results.

2. For existing opportunities that involve progressive stages, include metrics like click-throughs and social engagement at the account level in marketing automation systems. This will help sales judge stage movement influence on ABM results.

3. Make sure that new contacts and value-added tasks/meetings related to the ABM strategy are tagged to help sales teams measure the strategy’s performance.

4. Ensure that active ABM campaigns in your marketing automation system are also included at the account and contact levels in your CRM system. Instant notification to account teams regarding these engagements through the CRM system will help create new opportunities and move current opportunities forward.

To summarize, as a CRM leader, if your answer to any of the top three questions is “No,” you need to rethink your technology strategy and make sure your marketing automation and CRM systems work well together before you implement your strategy. To simplify, here are the three key takeaways for you to make your ABM strategy work:

1. Ensure you have your account segmentation data in your CRM system to support your ABM efforts.

2. Provide access to ABM results in one location for sales and marketing to measure the strategy’s effectiveness.

3. Use automation to tag opportunities, contacts and accounts and notify the sales and marketing team so they can act on them immediately.

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