An account-based marketing strategy (ABM) is a “people-based process.” You have to ensure your whole internal field team is educated first before you can effectively educate buyers.
That’s how Zora Senat, Chief Commercial Officer at Verisk Marketing Solutions (VMS), is approaching her company’s ABM strategy. VMS provides consumer intelligence to CMOs and marketing teams in the global insurance marketplace.
“It all starts with the people. We have to make sure our market-facing teams understand product value, business value, and how they connect, so they can communicate this into the accounts they are pointed at,” explains Zora.
Zora likes to say: “I’m marketing to marketers about marketing and personalization. We have to drink our own Kool-Aid here and get better about our strategies to build, manage, and deploy advertising content and our field force in a targeted, personalized way.”
I had a chance to speak to Zora recently to learn more about how she is rolling out ABM as a “people-based process” at Verisk Marketing Solutions.
1) Point Solution to Platform Solution 🧠
Strong ABM starts by effectively connecting product value bought by directors and managers for an individual product to enterprise value that appeals to senior executives.
Over the last year, Zora has been working to build the company’s strategy to connect product value and business value. Zora and the team are in the process of consolidating dozens of products from the recent acquisitions of Infutor and Journaya into a simplified set of product lines to stand alongside 70+ of Verisk’s existing products. They unified their sales, success teams, and marketing teams at the end of Q3 last year.
“We had to relearn everything we do, so we could communicate in the way the CMO is used to communicating, rather than speaking about a single product,” Zora explains.
The buyer’s journey can easily get stuck when the focus is on a point solution rather than positioning the business value of a platform as a whole.
“We offer many solutions in a lot of different areas,” Zora says. “We need to coach our team and get them the right resources to change the conversation. Rather than get stuck on one issue, say performance marketing, we need to build the case for the range of ways we help to acquire new customers and learn more about existing customers.”
2) Educate Your Economic Buyer 📚
Getting your economic buyer involved in the ABM conversation is less about specific product functionality and more about helping them understand where their business is going.
“Product value can easily stall,” she explains. “One of Verisk’s senior sales leaders states it perfectly: ‘Our three largest competitors are status quo, engineering resources, and then our competitors,’” Zora says.
“We get engagement from senior executives when we help them predict future trends and get smart about changes in technology, privacy, and permission. CMOs need unique, differentiated insights. These insights will pull the CMO into the sales process earlier.”
“Thought-leadership marketing has to be rinsed and repeated with the target audience,” Zora says. “CMOs are intellectually curious people, and they consume different types of content.”
“We have podcasts, events, video, and written content,” Zora continues. “The common theme is that the strongest content across all these types comes from the customer’s point of view. We try to get customers to talk about how they are experiencing value.”
3) Educate Your Whole Field Team 📓
ABM is best known as a marketing strategy that uses personalized campaigns to engage multiple buyers and units within target accounts.
Customer-centric companies, however, are using holistic ABM to connect marketing, sales, and customer success to grow their revenue faster.
VMS changed the title of ‘sales enablement’ to ‘field enablement.’ Zora says, “It is easier to train just the sales team, but anyone in the field needs to be speaking the same language. We’re committed to continuous improvement processes. We’re not just letting our enablement sit static. It’s dynamic and we rinse and repeat it.”
To do this, they offer each field team varied training around the same messaging. Sales, CS, BDRs, and implementation specialists interact with the content in different ways.
“Content at the top of the funnel should help to identify the best place to land. As we move into the funnel, sales content needs to support personalization in each conversation,” Zora continues. “Our CSMs need to be very good at acting as a trusted advisor and help to explore new problems the customer may not be thinking about yet.”
By taking a more holistic ABM approach across the entire buyer and customer journey, Zora is transforming all of VMS’ field organizations in a short period of time.
Every enterprise will have a different ABM motion, but every revenue leader can take from Zora’s approach the need to think about ABM as a “people-based process” that fluidly connects external buyers to all internal field teams.