February 8, 2021


Emelie Szybanow
Emelie Szybanow has been working in sales for 12 years

Winning a deal is neither an accident nor a matter of luck.

It’s all about efficiency of your Marketing, Sales and Service teams, the strategy they adopt to win customers and to keep them.

With Account Based Marketing, success could be expedited, profits could be doubled/tripled/quadrupled/etc. Marketing, sales, and service should work as one team and focus on offering your products or services to right-fit, highest-value accounts as well as making sure to retain these customers for life.

This article is all Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and then we have conducted an interview where an expert on sales, Emelie Szybanow, spilled some exciting tips regarding personalisation and customer experience in the high-tech industry. So let’s dive straight in!

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is an approach where the Sales, Marketing and Service teams work on building long lasting relationships with key accounts and contacts. ABM presents

  • Upsell, cross sell opportunities with existing customers
  • Opportunties to deepen customer relationships, provide better customer service and experience
  • Opportunities to acquire a new set of customers who are very similar to your existing customers.
  • Opportunities to align internal sales and marketing teams

It is very different from traditional marketing, where the marketing team would reach out to a wider set of prospects and then narrow down the hot leads. These sort of campaigns and one for all approaches don’t work any more. Only personalised campaigns work.

Reasons to use Account based Marketing

Account Based Marketing is a game changer for B2B companies of any size. Delivering a personalised experience  to customers is the core of ABM.  Salesforce reveals that with ABM you get to acquire more customers and drastically increase the deal sizes as well.

Account Based Marketing KPIs (Source: Salesforce)

ABM and Inbound marketing efforts can go hand in hand. You could re-purpose content used for different campaigns, also you could dig campaign data deeper and find target accounts for ABM.

The role of Salesforce in ABM

Step 1 – To get started with ABM, you can use your internal CRM tool like Salesforce to track specific account information. Within Salesforce you get a 360 degree view of customer.

Step 2 – Once you analyse the account information, with Salesforce you could run personalised campaigns.

Step 3 – Your sales, marketing and service teams can collaborate and align using Salesforce Chatter, a real-time view of data, activities. They could then nurture and close the deal.

Step 4 – You could regularly track and strategise your ABM efforts using Salesforce reports, dashboards, and data.

Top it all off with AI. In fact, AI could help you understand what is the right time and the right channels to engage with your customers.

Account based marketing in High-Tech

Sofia Filippova, who is charge of marketing and communications at Cloudideas had the opportunity to interview a close friend of hers, Emelie Szybanow.

Emelie has been working in the IT, high-tech industry for the last 12 years. Her main area of expertise is sales and she has worked in different parts of sales: business development, direct sales, and strategy. And then, of course, she has worked for Salesforce for almost 4 years.

Sofia and Emelie decided to have a candid conversation about sales, marketing, and the personalisation of customer experience.  As a result, we got an interesting view of how sales view ABM as well as some practical tips from a Sales guru herself about ABM. We picked a few for you to read below.

Ques 1 by Sofia: Let's start with a simple and generic one. Sales and marketing are seen as two separate things. How would you distinguish the two ?

Emelie: For me, sales and marketing should not be two separate things. In general, if you look at typical high tech companies today, who are fast-paced, fast-growing, and have modern sales and marketing channels; the responsibility of the marketing team starts at the beginning of the sales journey.

They are responsible to drive engagement from prospects to the website. This is done with the help of ads, blogs, events, campaigns, emails, and social media. What they are trying to do is to target different customer groups and industries.

In some cases also specific accounts (ABM). They then collect all the data and gain a picture of the account or the specific persona. When the lead is “hot”, it is handed over to the business developer. The business developer would then start the actual sales cycle. I’ve seen both sides to this. In some companies, business development is part of sales and in some others, they are part of marketing. Traditionally, that’s where you can distinguish between sales and marketing.

In my opinion, marketing and sales should always be working together, hand in hand. This is crucial especially for ABM strategies to succeed.

Ques 2: Do you think that customer experience (CX) is important for high tech companies?

Emelie: If you look at the business models of high-tech companies, you see that what they do is something similar to Salesforce. They often work with subscription models. And the subscription model is all about ensuring that your customers stay with you. If they don’t then that revenue is lost.

(Read more about Customer churn).

If you invest a lot of money to get a customer,  it is important that they also stay with you for a long time. This is where customer experience becomes really important for traditional high-tech companies.

Today the challenge is that there is a lot of customers who don’t want to sign a subscription for 12 months or longer, they don’t want to commit upfront, they want flexibility and an option to quit.

You, as a business, can be in a position to give customers the freedom to choose whether they want to stay with you or not.

In order to do that you need to provide a top-notch product and give excellent customer service. Then you can ensure that your customers will stay with you without necessarily signing for 12 months. This way you can give that extra sense of freedom to your customer.

Ques 3: What are the struggles of high-tech companies when it comes to CX and how personalisation ties to CX?

Emelie:  Let’s take a simple example – If a customer (let’s say in B2C) is not happy with your product, they go to Facebook and write a complaint post. This needs to be immediately picked up and all efforts should be put in place to turn their experience from bad to good. Secondly, you need to cross-check if a customer has complained in any other channel. Thirdly, if a customer writes negatively on a Facebook wall, everyone else could read this and get a bad idea about your company. This will negatively affect your image and in turn sales.  

So gathering all information in one place and maintaining positive sentiments on social media platforms are two major struggles of a high-tech company.

Regarding personalisation: It is very much about  understanding the preferences of the specific customer / person / account as such. If someone has communicated with you via Facebook, their preference is probably to keep that communication on Facebook.

“Communicating with the customer where they are communicating with you is the key”

Personalisation can mean different things for different companies but I think for B2B companies within high tech – the sales team needs to know what the account does, who is who, what are the previous conversations that they had, etc.

Ques 4: B2B companies usually have account managers. Would you say that personalization/human touch is important in account based marketing, especially in B2B bigger deals ?

Emelie:  When I worked in Salesforce, I had few accounts within my territory which I was really interested in having a conversation with. Me and my partner did research and found the people we wanted contact, we ran a campaign targeting these people and later reached out personally to them via social media.

We got into a conversation and one of these people mentioned:

“You know what, this is really cool because before we spoke I already saw some information about you, I’ve been hearing a bit about you on social media in the last couple of weeks. Now you reach out, we have a conversation and you seem to have so much knowledge about my company and you understand us already a lot”

I said to him: “I’m going to be honest with you now. The reason why this works this way is because the company that I work for provides me with the type of technology that enables me to give you that type of experience”

The customer recognised that this was the type of experience that he wanted for his own salespeople to give to their customers. He understood how Salesforce was working in order to achieve this.

In my opinion, this is exactly how ABM and personalisation should work with the help of technology.

Ques 5: What tips would you give regarding ABM ?

Emelie: There’s a lot of different ways to target accounts but at the end of the day, all the sales people want hot leads. Sales and marketing teams in ABM usually use technology to understand which customers showed interest and in what, and also how they behave when we run campaigns.

Salespeople like us have to deliver the right message in a very short span of time to the customer and if we have zero background about company interests, spending power, goals, etc then we have already lost the customer.

In my opinion, if done right ABM is not that hard. You simply need to understand who the potential customer is, what their interests are, and create messaging that reflects that. Technology will help you to understand the customer’s behaviour on your website and their reactions to your campaigns.  Besides Salesforce, a tool that is very handy for someone who works with enterprise accounts is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  

In the end, when you do meet the customer, you will have a lot of background information about them that will allow you to consult them in a personalised way. This will make you a valuable asset to the customer.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, ABM is the way forward for sales and marketing to close deals – bigger deals.  With the help of the CX team and excellent customer service, your customers will stay with you for a longer time. You also need to use the right tech like Salesforce to deliver personalised customer experiences – i.e., to reach at the right time, right place with the right content (of course, personalised!).

If you are interested in finding out how ABM can help your business grow, feel to reach out to us.

About the author

Sofia Filippova
Sofia Filippova

Marketing and Communications at Cloudideas GmbH

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