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Flip Your B2B Funnel on Its Head and Close Sales More Quickly

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We B2B marketers are on the cusp of an evolution. This shift in the industry is caused by the rapid growth in marketing technology (martech).

The relatively new martech industry has grown by 98% between 2014 and 2015, with nearly 2,000 vendors covering the landscape and offering a variety of data collection, personalization, and automation tools.

Armed with that tech, B2B marketing and sales teams are enhancing sales strategies through effective customer engagement, much like their B2C counterparts.

The traditional B2B marketing process started with a broad, untargeted approach to capture and communicate with as many potential new customers as possible, but smart B2B marketers have realized an opportunity to minimize long sales cycles.

Enter account-based marketing (ABM). ABM is all about identifying and targeting best-fit customers; broad-based lead-gen models no longer work effectively in today's customer-centric world.

Moreover, sales teams' have begun to identify success in closing deals more quickly with an ABM approach. A whopping 92% of B2B marketers said ABM was "extremely" or "very" important to their overall marketing efforts, according to a study conducted by Sirius Decisions.

Flip the funnel

Now, let's call our prospects and customers what they are: accounts. Your accounts are what pay your company revenue; after all, it is called "accounts receivable" on your company's general ledger.

Through ABM, B2B companies become hyperfocused on their target accounts.

Moreover, the growing breed of martech software makes it easier and more viable for B2B marketing and sales teams to "flip" the traditional sales funnel and focus their efforts on a smaller number of right-fit customers, or a targeted list of accounts. Doing so helps to ensure resources are allocated to the right people who can become revenue-generating customers.

To explain how martech aligns with account-based marketing, I'm calling this approach "Flip My Funnel."

There are four stages of the flipped funnel:

  • Identify
  • Expand
  • Engage
  • Advocate

Let's examine how the ABM and sales process works.

1. Identify

Your B2B marketing and sales teams collaborate on a list of target accounts, or the companies that are the best fit for your business. For that to be done, you need to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) by examining your existing customer base to determine the industry and size of the companies that have been most successful with your product.

2. Expand

From your list of accounts, expand the company information with contact information based on personas, which define the job description, role, and responsibilities of the contact you want to find in your ICP. Those contacts will be the people you engage with directly during the sales process.

3. Engage

Execute your marketing plan through such tactics as hosting events or webinars, emailing content like whitepapers or e-books, and connecting on social media. Engage with your clients.

You can measure and track engagement with those accounts with your marketing automation software or an ABM platform. Engaging your accounts helps to create velocity and further progress them through the sales process.

4. Advocate

Even after you've successfully closed your accounts, there's still more work for the marketing team to do.

If the mantra is true that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers, your marketing team should do everything in its power to ensure customer success by retaining accounts and keeping them happy.

Creating customer advocates is one of the most organic types of marketing, as your clients are touting the success they've had with your company.

Stop wasting resources

The need to transform traditional B2B marketing and sales models to an account-based approach is further spurred by the fact that B2B companies must minimize resources wasted on customers who aren't a right fit—and then effectively engage those likely to close deals and shorten their sales cycles.

If you're stuck doing traditional lead gen, don't ask your salespeople what type of marketing they need, ask which accounts they need to close.

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Sangram Vajre is a co-founder and the CMO of Terminus, provider of account-based B2B advertising automation software. Previously, Sangram headed up marketing at Pardot, acquired by Salesforce in 2013.

LinkedIn: Sangram Vajre

Twitter: @sangramvajre

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