This blog post is the seventh in Alyce’s seven-part series on account-based marketing best practices. For this post on ABM technologies, we connected with marketing operations expert Ken Evans, who hails from Alyce client Fuze.
As marketers – and really, as human beings – we’re all a bit guilty of “shiny object-ism” from time to time. And with the rate at which the marketing technology landscape has expanded and grown over the last several years, there are more shiny objects than ever to catch our eye and our mar-tech dollars.
The danger of “shiny object-ism” when it comes to B2B martech, especially in an account-based marketing model, is that you could end up with a tech stack that seems more like a wobbly game of Jenga than a solid operational foundation.
What does it take to build the right tech stack to support your ABM strategy?
Win with Fundamentals
“Before you layer technology onto your ABM strategy, you have to start with the fundamentals,” explains Ken Evans, senior director of marketing operations at Alyce client Fuze. “You have to think through how you want to market and how you want to sell to target accounts. You have to work with sales to develop the right target account profile. ABM marketing teams can win the same way great sports teams do – by focusing on the fundamentals first.”
Resisting shiny martech objects in order to first nail down the fundamentals of your ABM initiative can put you on the path to executing a winning strategy. And then the way you build your ABM tech stack can become less about specific of-the-moment technologies and more about what you can accomplish with them.
“If you have the luxury of building your ABM strategy and tech stack from scratch, the key question to ask is: ‘How are we going to run this engine, and how do we make sure it keeps running so that we can achieve our goals?’
“If you have the luxury of building your ABM strategy and tech stack from scratch, the key question to ask is: ‘How are we going to run this engine, and how do we make sure it keeps running so that we can achieve our goals?’” Ken says.
Ken’s advice is solid, and so is Fuze’s marketing tech stack. You can bolster your own ABM tech stack by focusing on the fundamentals. And, what could be more fundamental than the alphabet?
The ABM Tech Stack ABCs
A – Align
The ‘A’ in our ABM tech stack ABCs is for alignment. “ABM begins with alignment, and alignment isn’t just about people,” says Ken. “You need sales and marketing team alignment, but also an alignment in your operations, your goals and your process.”
Alignment is a theme we’ve discussed at length throughout our #ABMxAlyce series. And Ken is right that alignment has to go deep.
As Ken explains, in addition to sales and marketing team alignment, you need alignment with how buyers buy and alignment of your technology solutions to the problems they solve and goals they fulfill. “You have to put in the time to build internal alignment, and you can layer on technology to get stronger alignment in other ways. As examples, at Fuze, we use TechTarget’s Intent Signals solution to uncover prospect generation signals that help us match our marketing and selling to potential buyers who are in market. And, we also use Seismic’s sales enablement platform, which supports alignment throughout our ABM-driven sales process.”
B – Benefit
The ‘B’ in our ABM tech stack ABCs is for benefit. “When you’re making a tech investment, it’s important to ask, ‘Who benefits if we implement this tool?’” says Ken.
When you ask this question, the best answer is that the martech product can benefit marketing and sales. Bonus points if it can also benefit the prospect or customer.
“If we think about Alyce, this is something that fills a very important need at Fuze, and it’s something that both sales and marketing can use,” says Ken. “In the past, when anyone would do direct mail, sometimes it would come directly from the sales budget, and sometimes it would come from the marketing budget. Either way, the financial costs would add up fast, and the time costs were painful – a good portion of your sales day would be over just from bubble-wrapping, labeling, boxing, etc. And the worst part was that direct mail wasn’t trackable.
In this scenario, sales reps get the benefit of greater productivity. Marketing gets the benefit of deeper insights into direct mail campaigns. They both get the benefit of more efficient prospect generation. And, the buyer gets the benefit of relevant outreach. (Not to mention, we at Alyce get the benefit of working with Fuze!)
When you’re evaluating technologies for your ABM tech stack, make sure they can offer benefits that go beyond a marketing silo.
C – Connect
The ‘C’ in our ABM tech stack ABCs is for connect. “Fuze got an early start with marketing automation, and we were one of Eloqua’s first customers. And we ran our CRM on Salesforce from the beginning. The integration of these two solutions was the genesis of our connected ABM tech stack and gave us something to build from,” explains Ken.
When Ken and the Fuze team evaluate martech solutions for their ABM tech stack, they look at how each tool can connect to the Fuze strategy and integrate with other solutions in the stack.
“We look for technology that fulfills a need and brings automation into our process. I’d rather have a tech partner that’s more integrated with fewer features than the other way around, and I’d rather have a smaller stack with solid integrations so we can scale faster.”
“Manual interventions don’t scale,” says Ken. “We look for technology that fulfills a need and brings automation into our process. I’d rather have a tech partner that’s more integrated with fewer features than the other way around, and I’d rather have a smaller stack with solid integrations so we can scale faster.”
Wait! Don’t Forget the Letter D
You thought once we covered ‘C’ that we were all done, didn’t you? The truth is, to follow Ken’s advice and build a solid ABM tech stack, you can’t forget about the letter ‘D.’ And, in this case, ‘D’ is for “daily driver.”
Once you’re in the midst of building and implementing your ABM tech stack, you need to ensure you’re getting value from your technology. What Ken recommends is to nominate a “daily driver,” someone to be the power user of the tech tool or platform.
“When you introduce a new tool in your ABM tech stack, you need a daily driver who knows the product, the use implications for sales and marketing, and what the integration points are,” says Ken. “You need someone to be the daily champion who helps make sure the technology is working to help you achieve your goals.”
Align. Benefit. Connect. Drive. When you’ve got the ABCs in place in your tech stack evolution, you’ll be well on your way to building and running an ABM engine that supports sales, marketing, and the growth of your business.
The Moral of the Story
- Before you introduce new technology, make sure you focus on the fundamentals of your ABM strategy
- Your technology should support alignment – between sales and marketing and also with your buyers’ process and your business goals
- When evaluating tech solutions, ask, “Who will benefit?”
- The tools in your ABM tech stack need to connect with each other and integrate with your process
- Don’t forget to appoint a “daily driver” to be the internal champion of each martech solution
Many thanks to ABM expert and Alyce client Ken Evans for his insights.
Have your own ideas to add?
Comment below or drop the Alyce team a line to chat.