Improved team alignment was named as the top payoff to an ABM strategy according to 56% of respondents in the Demand Gen Report’s ABM Benchmark Survey. It's no secret this is a key ingredient to an effective ABM strategy at events, but there are a lot of players involved (Sales, Marketing, Event Planning, Customer Success), which makes it hard to know where to start. Getting your teams aligned for a stronger event and ABM strategy can be tricky, so we reached out to ABM and team alignment expert, Bob Peterson of SiriusDecisions to help us all learn how to achieve it and further our success.
atEvent: We know team alignment plays a key role in creating better overall outcomes from events but with so many players involved what are the best practices for internal team alignment around their event outcomes and goals as part of their event and ABM Strategies?
Bob: One of the keys to successful ABM design and implementation is a clear alignment between sales and marketing around the expected execution of tactics. With events playing such a key role in ABM, internal alignment becomes even more important given the real-time nature of these interactions. Alignment starts with clarity about how selected events are designed to support the buyer’s journey. Are events designed to identify new contacts within ABM accounts? Or are events focused on nurturing existing contacts and advancing them to the next stage of the buying process? Understanding these goals helps sales and marketing understand their roles and maintain alignment. Start by mapping out ABM account contacts by their specific role in the buying process and include this information in the pre-event strategy document. Review this document in advance with sales and marketing and ensure all company event attendees have a common view of what the objective is for each ABM account contact and which internal functional lead is playing the point.
atEvent: A lot of our readers want better event outcomes and understand a lot of their issues are due to a disconnect amongst their teams but are unsure how to get started addressing this issue, what tips do you have for our readers? How can an organization get started with a Sales and Marketing event alignment strategy? Who should drive team alignment (Sales, Marketing, or Events?) and who should be involved?
Bob: The foundations of effective B2B event strategies are based upon a common understanding of event support, logistics, and experience. Event management, like ABM, is a true team sport that requires internal alignment to achieve success. In ABM, orchestration is a collaboration between the ABM marketing lead for the account or group of accounts and the sales account owners. One of the most powerful ways to secure alignment between sales and marketing in ABM is the development of an ABM charter document which outlines the program objective, scope, team, key activities, timelines along with critical success factors and constraints. This charter acts as an internal contract of sorts to drive alignment, for events as well as other ABM activities.
atEvent: Setting attainable goals and determining the right metrics can be tricky and leave some of our readers second-guessing themselves. What details, metrics, objectives, and KPIs need to be outlined to motivate all parties and get them to commit?
Bob: For far too long, measuring B2B event performance has been a slippery slope, often due to a perception that measuring the impact of events was too difficult or inaccurate. Likewise, we spend a lot of time at SiriusDecisions helping our ABM clients understand the new metrics of ABM to better articulate the impact of ABM to key internal audiences. Start by classifying metrics according to their logical categories; reputation (brand tone, social media listening, awareness, sentiment), demand creation (new contacts identified in ABM accounts, inquiries identified, opportunities advanced), sales enablement (meetings arranged at events, product demos held at events, pipeline acceleration activities), and market intelligence (account insights gathered at events, interviews held with key account contacts). Once these metrics are classified, leverage these metrics to build dashboards that are appropriate for various internal audiences.
For example, executives will want to see high-level impact metrics that are more strategic, while internal operational resources will want to see activity-level dashboards. An area commonly missed is to incorporate qualitative metrics (such as those gathered by sales leaders or key ABM account clients) to supplement quantitative metrics to add valuable color commentary on ABM event performance.
atEvent: We know from our experience in the field of change management that adopting new technology is just the first step and the true benefits don’t usually come unless everyone is willing to change their process. How can an organization ensure that alignment goes beyond conversation and handshakes into governance and outcomes? For example, say Marketing and Events Ops purchase an Event Lead Management solution to integrate with their MarTech stack to accelerate sales and capture event data for their ABM strategy, how do they ensure that the sales team uses it?
Bob: Technology is playing an increasingly important role in B2B, and this is particularly true in ABM where sales and marketing have access to all sorts of new technologies to support ABM needs, including account-based advertising, predictive analytics, intent data monitoring and event management platforms. While these technologies can be incredibly useful, if internal processes for optimizing these investments aren’t developed and adhered to, often these technologies can simply compound any existing internal alignment challenges.
We encourage our clients at SiriusDecisions to anchor technology investments around identified business requirements (i.e. what business problem is the technology designed to solve?) and supplement that with a comprehensive change management process to ensure there is a common understanding of what a particular platform does and how it requires specific functional adjustments. Since ABM often requires several similar changes (some technology-based and others procedural), we recommend companies outline the specifications in their ABM charter to ensure there’s internal clarity across all functions.
Team alignment is the first step for any ABM strategy—and is especially important when connecting ABM and events. The next step will be to build a data fueled strategy that feeds itself through valuable account signals from events.