Top Account-Based Marketing Challenges With Sangram Vajre

Sangram Vajre, co-founder of Terminus & creator of FlipMyFunnel, reveals the key account-based marketing challenges that organizations are facing.
Diana Daia
July 21, 2021

We've asked account-based marketing evangelist Sangram Vajre, co-founder of Terminus, about the rise in popularity of ABM and the challenges it brings. Here's what we found out:

Sangram VajreSangram Vajre - Terminus, Flipmyfunnel

Who is Sangram Vajre?

Sangram Vajre is an account-based marketing evangelist, co-founder of Terminus, and the author of the first book on ABM. He created the FlipMyFunnel Community in 2014 to provide a place for B2B marketing and sales innovators to foster the account-based mindset and to learn from each other. Sangram is an international keynote speaker, big hugger, and host of the top 50 business podcast called FlipMyFunnel with over 100,000 subscribers.

3 key account-based marketing challenges today

D.D.: We know that account-based marketing is important - now more than ever. What are some of the toughest account-based marketing challenges that marketers are facing today?

S.V.: I ran a LinkedIn survey recently. And honestly, I found out that running polls and surveys on LinkedIn are the most impactful because I'll get 500-1000 people on average responding to a survey on LinkedIn, which is just ridiculous. In one of the polls, I asked a specific question: what is the #1 reason you fail doing ABM? Here are the top 2 responses that surfaced: 

 

1. Marketing and sales alignment

S.V.: Hands down, marketing and sales alignment was number 1 account-based marketing challenge covering almost 85% of responses. I know it sounds like a broken record, but to anyone who is doing ABM: if marketing is selecting the accounts, you will fail. If sales are selecting the accounts, you will fail. If both marketing and sales are addressing it together, your chances of winning are much higher. If one of the parties selects the accounts, the alignment is broken immediately, and the trust factor is gone.

I know it sounds like a broken record, but to anyone who is doing ABM: if marketing is selecting the accounts, you will fail. If sales are selecting the accounts, you will fail. If both marketing and sales are addressing it together, your chances of winning are much higher. If one of the parties selects the accounts, the alignment is broken immediately, and the trust factor is gone.

Sangram VajreSangram Vajre - Terminus, Flipmyfunnel
Sangram Vajre
Terminus & Flipmyfunnel

2. Maximizing collaboration between sales and marketing

 

D.D.:​ The collaboration between sales & marketing is another known account-based marketing challenge, as it is key for maximizing the effectiveness and scaling ABM. How can teams achieve that? What winning tactics could you share?

S.V.: I think, Diana, I have a very simple response to that question because it's such a heavy question and a lot of people are jaded by it, quite honestly. When I've surveyed and talked to the best organizations that have this, the commonality that I found is literally one thing and one thing alone: the marketing and sales teams had the same exact number.

Obviously, salespeople get commissions, marketing people are getting bonuses. But if you have the same exact number, which means we take a victory lap every time we hit that number or don't hit the number, then all of a sudden we start asking questions like, wait a minute, how do we achieve that number? Well, we have these accounts that are not engaged. Well, maybe we should drop the webinar program that we have on our list and actually do a targeted industry-specific webinar for the accounts that our salesperson cares about. All of a sudden, the same old tactics become more focused and achieve a common goal.

I feel that the single thing you can do as a business is to align the goals and bonuses. And not just bonuses at the end of the year, but at the end of every quarter. Just like a sales rep is getting money at the end of every quarter, a marketer or a customer success specialist also gets a bonus every quarter for their ability to drive business. Aligning everybody's bonuses is the single biggest moving needle.

I feel that the single thing you can do as a business is to align the goals and bonuses. And not just bonuses at the end of the year, but at the end of every quarter. Just like a sales rep is getting money at the end of every quarter, a marketer or a customer success specialist also gets a bonus every quarter for their ability to drive business. Aligning everybody's bonuses is the single biggest moving needle.

Sangram VajreSangram Vajre - Terminus, Flipmyfunnel
Sangram Vajre
Terminus & Flipmyfunnel

3. Misunderstanding the size of your Total Addressable Market

S.V.: As I did deeper surveys after that to go into it, I found out that another account-based marketing challenge that surfaced is knowing how to select the right accounts and what your real TAM is 9 out of 10 people that I asked, would say:

  1. ’I don't know’, which is really, really bad, but happens almost 90% of the time.
  2. ‘It's about 10k companies’, which is wrong unless you are Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Yeah, you could say that. But for the majority of the companies, you literally need to close around a hundred accounts and you will be winning, you will be rolling in money that month or that quarter. So it really comes down to: are you going after the right accounts? Can you really understand the TAM of your business?

    At events, I sometimes ask that question and get a similar response. That just shows that most people are even wondering what a TAM is. They haven't really thought about it because they're running programs like one webinar a month, two eBooks a quarter, three blog posts a day.

    They are going through this idea of marketing activities as opposed to ’I got to know who our target audience is, and I got to know that we are focusing on it. And I got to know that our sales have these specific accounts. And then I need to create programs to support that. It seems that understanding what you need to market to is almost the fifth step in the process.

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