Over the past decade, we’ve seen a major shift in the way consumers make purchases–not only in the B2C world but in the B2B world as well. Buyers are more informed and resistant to talk to sales than ever before. They have the luxury of remaining anonymous; completing up to 70% of their research incognito without even talking to someone in sales. Buying is no longer an individual’s journey but that of a buying team. With an average of 10 people on a buying committee, the role of the buyer is much more fragmented. These changes in the buying process have made B2B Sellers and Marketers increasingly frustrated with their out-of-date go-to-market tools and strategies.
Technology, such as marketing automation platforms (MAPs), that was developed in the late 90s finally enables Marketers to automate workflows and proactively reach buyers and prospects via email. Unfortunately, this technology wasn’t designed to handle account-based, non-linear, predominantly anonymous buying journeys. Hench the emergence of AI-based account orchestration platforms, built for an account, rather than for leads or contacts. The platform amasses 1st and 3rd party intent data coupled with predictions to provide a complete view of the buying journey then orchestrates behaviorally triggered journeys across a suite of execution channels (email AND web, content, display advertising).
These new options have supercharged how MAPs are utilized. In 2020 and the years to come, several forces at play will cause B2B Sellers to rethink the foundation of their go-to-market tech stack. Abandoning first-generation, lead-based marketing solutions as the center of the stack, Sellers and Marketers will adopt account-based platforms that are built with AI and big data at the core, providing them the insights they need to compete. These solutions will enable account-based efforts to scale due to cross channel orchestration capabilities coupled with account engagement metrics to provide a comprehensive view for the entire revenue team.
No more MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and no more throwing leads from Marketing over the fence to Sales. Revenue operations teams will redefine the interlock between Sales and Marketing.
Here come our predictions!
1. In-Market is the New Inbound
Most Marketers believe that inbound leads are the Holy Grail. The truth is that inbound leads often fail to deliver the level of immediateness, sophistication and intelligence Marketers need to truly understand the B2B buying journey. As a result, Marketers have no choice but to wait until a prospect decides they are ready to engage, and by then, it’s too late in the buying process to have any real influence over their decision. What Marketers need is immediate insight into where prospects are in their buying journey and what they want at that moment. In 2020, Marketers will shift from an inbound approach to an in-market approach by using real buyer insights to focus on the accounts with the highest buying propensity and intent. By prioritizing accounts that are in-market, Marketers have the power to influence the entire buying journey, ensuring every interaction with a buyer is personalized, relevant and timely.
2. Death of the MQL
For decades, Marketers have been using questionable metrics like MQLs instead of focusing on real business objectives. In 2020 and the years to come, siloed marketing goals like MQLs become irrelevant as revenue teams move to an account engagement model. Why? Effective account-based marketing is ultimately all about increasing meaningful awareness and engagement with customers and prospects in order to accelerate deals and positively impact pipeline metrics. Just like pipeline, awareness and engagement metrics can and should be measured to help your team stay on track.
2020 will bring about a whole different conversation and a new level of understanding and measuring success.
In addition to traditional performance metrics, Marketers should also report on:
- Accounts “in-market” (rather than leads) that have engaged for the first time
- Number of accounts that increased their engagement levels
- The account view-through rate (% of the buying team that engaged with your brand’s website)
- Fit scores for accounts (give sales insight so they know when to engage)
3. Siloed Marketing and Sales Tech Stacks Make Way for a Unified Revenue Stack
It’s common knowledge that the MarTech stack has gotten WAY out of control. This has driven significant movement around not only tech stack consolidation, but also addressing the needs of the revenue operations team as a whole. As we move from a lead-based to account-based GTM strategy, Sales and Marketing teams must operate together on one comprehensive system. This alignment is especially important as the concept of marketing passing leads to sales dies off.
As Sales and Marketing teams continue to unite, we’ll see them ditch their disparate platforms and adopt an all-encompassing account-based platform with AI and big data built into the core so they can successfully uncover, orchestrate AND utilize valuable buyer data. As account status changes, the platform will alert Sales on meaningful account activity, what marketing did to drive that activity, and how personas in the account are engaging. This platform will integrate seamlessly with other important technology like your CRM, to ensure alignment with a single source of truth across the revenue team.
4. AI and Big Data
Ten years ago, AI didn’t play a role in Sales and Marketing tech stacks. In recent years, early adopters of AI had to utilize expensive data scientists to even understand the data much less put it to good use. The role of AI is expanding as we realize that adopting AI is the only way to significantly scale and accelerate our efforts. How will revenue teams compete and win in the age of comprehensive account-based Sales and Marketing? By leveraging the power of AI, big data and machine learning behind every member of the B2B revenue team, empowering them to uncover anonymous buying behavior, prioritize fragmented data to be able to identify accounts and then use that data to focus on accounts that are actually in-market. AI and big data allow Sales and Marketing teams to engage “in-market” buying teams with personalized, multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns including “next best” actions, and dynamic creative capabilities to serve personalized content and messaging in digital ads based on real-time account information. With AI and big data, revenue teams will work smarter, not harder.
It’s safe to say that Marketing has changed more in the past five years than it has in the past fifty. If you think these predictions are just trends that may make a splash in the vast ocean of Marketing, think again! Stay tuned for 6sense’s 2020 Vision (Part Two) where we’ll dive headfirst into more predictions on the account-based marketing landscape.