Are you on ABM 3.0? Enter the Demand Unit Driven ABM Approach

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Raghuram KS
VP of Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing and sales and marketing alignment are all the buzz right now. The ABM strategy which involves deep alignment between Marketing and Sales teams to better target, nurture, and convert your most valuable accounts—has been around for a while, but is finally coming into limelight in large part because of technology that facilitates team alignment and personalization at scale.

There’s no shortage of reasons why ABM is attractive to B2B companies. Companies practicing ABM have better alignment with sales, often close bigger deals with target accounts, and increase pipeline velocity. To many of us, ABM means big enterprise companies targeting a few standout key accounts with a high-touch, expensive, siloed process. Today, ABM has the potential to be much bigger than that, thanks to technology that helps us automate and scale. But more than that, it’s a simple documented process that can be easily piloted and replicated across the organization.

The ABM Funnel

FlipMyFunnel founder Sangram Vajre provides an excellent framework to visualize the ABM funnel. Experienced marketing and sales teams no longer think about the conversion of a single lead through stages in the pipeline.

Account Based Marketing Funnels: The Fatal Flaw and How You Can Fix It

Rather, they strategically use firmographic, technographic, sociographic data and business intelligence to help them prioritize high-value accounts. Check out our earlier blog on How to Identify High Probability Accounts. Additionally, they construct ABM campaigns which make use of “first touch” attribution to build and track engagement with multiple stakeholders until the final senior decision makers at the right accounts are talking to your sales team.

Choosing the Right Framework for Marketing Funnels

There are various frameworks available that helps you visualize and establish the ABM program in your organization. For instance, the seven key framework by Heinz marketing includes an operational scorecard for monitoring ABM plays and agile execution “sprints”. On the other hand, TOPO’s Account Based Marketing frameworkis much more comprehensive and involves 8 strategic categories and over 42 critical elements.

TOPO Account-Based Marketing Framework

Enter the Demand Unit Waterfall

One of the most comprehensive models has been developed by Sirius Decisions – the Demand Unit Waterfall. The framework aligns sales and marketing by requiring them to look at demand stages together and collaborate to engage and convert target accounts. The Demand Unit Waterfall is especially well suited for ABM because it tracks multiple interested contacts within an account or buying center and those interested contacts can be readily consolidated and associated with an opportunity. To realize these benefits, ABM leaders must collaborate with key players across marketing, sales, teleservices and operations to identify and leverage the parallels between ABM activities and Demand Unit Waterfall stages.

As per Sirius Decisions senior research analyst Jonathan Tam,

“Account-based marketing is about targeting buying groups within accounts, or more specifically individuals or personas that make up that buying group to address a need. In order to determine success, organizations have to roll-up individual activity to this buying group level to truly understand performance.”

SiriusDecisions calls this buying group the Demand Unit. I believe it’s a great model for your ABM programs. The buying group has two characteristics: there are multiple people in the group, and there may be multiple groups within an organization or account.

Here are 6 reasons Why Demand Unit Waterfall Is Perfect For ABM

With the Demand Unit Waterfall approach, marketing organizations (and product as well as sales) need to consider Demand units – not accounts, as the target of marketing approach when thinking about buyers. That said, buyer, needs and solution must match a demand unit to exist.

However, there are challenges while extending this approach to your internal systems. The first challenge is that CRM systems such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Adobe are optimized for creating leads and converting that onto existing accounts and opportunities. But, there is no easy way to systematically identify target audiences at high-value accounts and track their engagement throughout the sales cycle. Salespeople are notorious for not attaching the relevant additional contacts in the buying group to Opportunities in CRM. And Marketing teams are usually happy enough to track the source of an individual Lead and use that in their attribution models.

This means it’s very hard to make the Demand Unit Waterfall or any ABM Funnel work in an organization and it’s impossible to get actionable metrics with unrealistically high levels of CRM adoption and discipline

So, what’s the solution?

Enter SalesboxAI. For years, companies have been able to load Leads into CRM and convert them onto specific Accounts, you end up with a lot of Contacts in the system without any real context as to why they are there

SalesboxAI’s ABM platform leverages Sirius Decisions’ Demand Unit Waterfall model, conversational AI and human assisted AI Avatars to construct demand units for each of your product/service portfolio, orchestrate multi-step, multi-channel engagement optimized for buyer personas and drive conversations

  • SalesboxAI creates demand units as per your product/service and populates the demand unit with members as per decision makers and influencer personas
  • The AI avatar creates and orchestrates campaigns (email and social) based on buyer persona importance and behavior. This is what we refer as Conversational AI powered touch points personalized to each buyer
  • SalesboxAI automatically tracks who your avatars are engaging with at their target companies, scores them for engagement, and adds them into CRM.
  • With SalesboxAI, it’s possible to match these contacts to opportunities so that you can see, along the sales cycle, who your salesperson is actually engaging with and how well engaged they are. The sales person also gets to see the entire demand unit tagged with the opportunity so he knows who are the likely stakeholders attached to each opportunity. Think of it as an automated way to establish and track the members of your buying group.
  • Following is the breakdown of the Sirius Decisions Demand Unit Waterfall model, what you need to implement it and how SalesboxAI can help – starting at the very top.

    Target Demand: Configure SalesboxAI Discover to define your goals and customize demand unit discovery
    Active Demand: Identiy active demand from ABM Intent data through SalesboxAI Echo
    ABM Solutions
    Engaged Demand: Orchestrate AI Powered Touch Points with your buyers through SalesboxAI Engage and Target
    Prioritized Demand: SalesboxAI leverages intent data, historical account intelligence and AI touch metrics to help you prioritize target market
    Qualified Demand: Add the power of Demand Unit Marketing and conversational AI for all demand generation activities
    Pipeline: Turbocharge your pipeline with AI Avatars. Drive SQLs, appointments and omni channel engagement through email, chatbots and social ads (Conversational AI Touch Points)
    Closed: Closed-won deal with tailor made market solutions

    What’s in it for Marketing?

    As marketers, we have always wished for overall view of potential and existing customer groups with their historical deals. With AI powered ABM dashboards, now it’s very much possible to do so. Along with standard dashboard view, you can order custom dashboard with any workflow and process you practice at your organization. You can even run regression analysis to see what job titles pop up on deals consistently, and what personas are typically not engaged in the deals that they are losing.

    Utilizing SalesboxAI’s buying group targeting capabilities, you can now develop an action plan around engagement of additional and multiple stakeholders for each of the deals in your pipeline. You can evaluate where it is worth investing in persona-based content, and where we need event based content and what campaigns are actually helping move deals through the pipeline.

    Your friendly SalesboxAI customer success team and digital specialists will be with you to help initiate additional email or digital campaigns to address niche buyer group segments. And you can tailor your list building and demand generation campaigns to target all influential personas within your buying group.

    How Sales team benefits?

    Understanding who you typically need to engage when closing a deal enables you to create a real-time early-warning system for your pipeline.

    As a manager, you can quickly sense-check if your sales team has engaged enough stakeholders, or if the right people are involved. The AI Avatars of each of your sales team members will create an engagement map along with level of engagement

    You can get away from the common situation where deals get all the way through your pipeline without having the appropriate people involved in the buying side. To avoid that, we can have concurrent persona from a senior member of your organization to engage with correspondent member of the buying group.

    By leveraging conversational AI Avatars, you are making sure that the sales team is able to engage all decision makers and influencers who are part of the buying group as tagged on a deal. This could be a great point of discussion during the next quarterly business review (QBR)

    The Concept of Selling Groups

    SalesboxAI is probably the only platform which enables organizations to match buying groups with selling groups. Often marketers lose sight of effort and engagement required from their side to close a deal. SalesboxAI’s platform enables creation of multiple AI avatars representing roles with the vendor side – It often takes an account executive, technical sales engineer and an executive to get a deal over the line. These avatars representing the seller personas are then matched with appropriate members of the buying group and utilized for better conversations and outcomes

    While may seem hard to implement ABM and take advantage of the new Demand Unit Waterfall, SalesboxAI makes it rather effortless

    It is all part of our partnership promise to you that receive all the support you need to grow profitably. Visit and schedule a demo

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