Modern B2B marketing has centered around powerful marketing automation tools. And while these tools have been successful in generating large amounts of leads, they have flooded sales with leads outside of their pre-established Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). In fact, according to TOPO, only 10-20% of the leads generated by marketing are from accounts on the sales team’s target list.
As a result, a new, strategic approach to B2B marketing has emerged. This approach is referred to as “account based marketing,” and it aims to coordinate sales and marketing efforts with highly personalized content and knowledge that’s delivered to the right accounts at the right stage of the buyer journey. While marketing is running multi-channel campaigns on targeted accounts, outbound sales is focused on these same accounts, and enabled by marketing teams to support their efforts in the most personalized way possible.
A few key pillars of an account based strategy include:
- Personalized messaging and content
- Marketing, sales, and support collaboration
- Well defined ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and Buyer Personas
- A land and expand approach
In an account-based world, knowledge can be your differentiator. Knowledge about your product and services, your competitors, your thought leadership, etc. The knowledge has to span across various teams in your organization - from sales, to marketing, to support and customer success. So much so, that account based marketing is often referred to as “account based everything” (ABE).
Here’s why you need a good knowledge base in order to successfully execute a world-class ABE plan.
ABE ensures a degree of alignment by forcing sales and marketing to focus on the same accounts. A well maintained, collaborative knowledge base further facilitates this alignment by allowing the marketing teams to ensure consistent messaging, while sales teams have easy access to the personalized marketing assets they need to move deals forward.
A prerequisite is a tight collaboration between sales and marketing to identify target accounts, personas within those accounts, and agreed-on value propositions to use on each persona. - Manny Medina, CEO @ Outreach
But a good knowledge base needs to be structured in not just an accessible way, but with a level of granularity that ensures this level of personalization. Providing sales with personal, situational knowledge is critical for effective sales enablement - everything from depositioning a competitor to explaining the specific value of your product’s functionality based on buyer personas.
With an Account Based Everything approach, targeting accounts that fit your defined ICP is only half the battle. You also need to personalize your engagement to individual stakeholders along each stage of the buyer journey. Personas should act as a composite sketch of your buyers, based on their roles, responsibilities, challenges, and goals. A deep understanding of your personas can allow marketing, sales, and support to align on messaging, and ensure each relevant stakeholder is engaged throughout the buyer journey.
For instance, when it comes to a competitive bakeoff, the VP of Sales and the VP of Marketing are going to have very different points of emphasis. Instead of reciting your generic talking points to deposition a competitor, having a deep understanding of your personas and a knowledge base that allows for granular and situational knowledge can enable a rep to deposition a given competitor more effectively. The same holds true for explaining various product value propositions or anticipating FUD - the more situational and personalized your knowledge base, in this case, by persona, the more value you’re providing to your particular prospect by contextualizing their question.
This way, when the group of stakeholders in the buying committee come to the table to decide on a buying decision, each persona is deeply, personally engaged to make an argument to buy your products or services.
The ABE model calls for tight orchestration across sales and marketing to drive initial customer acquisition. Because the emphasis is across the entirety of an account, support often becomes an extension of your sales and marketing efforts. Landing and expanding requires a seamless transition into upsell territory, as multi-touch campaigns drive acquisition and support.
In this world, support needs to be intimately familiar with sales knowledge, as they are expected to be able to articulate value propositions to the right personas at the right time.
Nowhere is sales and marketing alignment more critical than with content development. With account based everything, delivering the right content to the right persona at the right time is critical to the success of the strategy.
“Data and intelligence are the lifeblood of account-based programs.” - Tom Scearce, TOPO
Sales reps are often a gold mine of information and, ideally, marketing has deep insights into what sales reps are speaking about and with whom. For instance, what objections their prospects have, and what specific pain points and unique use cases they are trying to solve for. Such insights allow you to have the kinds of data that informs a content strategy that delivers for the ABE framework - ensuring you find the gaps by buyer journey and persona in your content strategy and filling them accordingly.
For named Account Based Marketing, Marketers really need to go back to the drawing board, inventorying their content in a much more account- oriented way based on sales priorities and identifying holes in coverage. - Megan Heuer VP and Group Director, Sirius Decisions
What you need is insight into your entire knowledge base, with usage data around what knowledge is being used, shared and with whom. And, while useful to understand what whitepapers are being used, it’s equally if not more important to the content strategy to know what product questions come up most frequently, what objections are being raised most, and what competitors are being discussed by your prospects. Such data can inform a content strategy, not just optimize a pre-existing one.
One of the core advantages to a successfully executed ABE program is an ability to target all key buyers - enabling your team to engage every buyer in the buying committee and increase sales velocity. While on a high level ABE ensures we are targeting the right people at the right accounts, we still need a way to keep these individual buyers engaged and moving forward through the buyer’s journey.
When a prospect asks about a specific piece of product functionality or competitor, generic answers or an assurance of a follow-up email to address the question slows down the sales cycle. You have that prospects attention now, take advantage of it by providing she/he with the most personalized and relevant answer as you have it.
So, what constitutes a good knowledge base?
As outlined, a good knowledge base can ensure your marketing, sales, and support teams are collaborating on the sales knowledge ABE requires to both acquire and upsell/cross-sell. In order to execute on this, your knowledge base provides the following.
- Quick access, overlay of existing workflow
- Searchable and taggable in order to filter and personalize sales knowledge or marketing content
- An easy way to make sure information doesn’t go stale
- Data into how the knowledge base is performing
For more tips on both ABE and how to build a successful knowledge base, follow us on Twitter @Guru_HQ. Think you’re ready to get going yourself? Spin up Guru and get to building your ABE optimized knowledge base today!