You don’t need me to tell you that market uncertainty and whispers of an economic downturn are in full force. In fact, related talking points have dominated headlines in the past few months and put fear into the hearts of marketers and businesspeople everywhere. If you’re worried about the impact that the current economy might have on your organization, there’s good news: you don’t need to sit and wait to see what happens. You can take steps to take control of your particular situation and weather the storm ahead.
If this seems confident, it’s because I’ve seen the true mettle of B2B teams over the years, especially in recent times. Think about how COVID-19 disrupted the entire field and flipped it on its head. B2B salespeople and marketers had to completely change the way they work, shifting from a heavy reliance on trade shows, field events and face-to-face meetings to nearly purely digital methods – and they did it. By and large, they learned to rely on data and intent signals to identify their best-fit accounts and get hyper-targeted in their advertising and outreach. They proved to be resilient.
Hitting the Same Results with Less
Circumstances today are different than they were during the peak of the pandemic. Although we’re all still dealing with aftermath in a variety of forms, fiscal uncertainty is the primary stressor. There’s talk of (and already plenty of action around) budget cuts and resource reductions. But businesses still need to sell their products and services, and need to hit their numbers.
Some executives might be tempted to cut back in areas like marketing, but this can backfire. If you want to make it through this economic valley, you need marketing – you just need to be smarter about it. In fact, you just need to be smarter about your entire go-to-market. Here are the three main areas to focus on.
Stop Targeting Companies You Can’t Sell To
This sounds so elementary, but it’s actually still something that happens all the time. Budget and resources are often wasted on companies that a business can’t even sell to – in places where their ideal customer profile (ICP) accounts don’t even go. And, adding insult to injury, in places where their brand doesn’t really want to be seen. So, how do you fix this?
You need both strategy and technology to serve as your building blocks, then dig into what your ICP looks like. What’s an ideal company for you? What’s the size of the business? The industry? The region? Those are the companies that are in market for you. Then you look at what buying signals customers are showing that are relevant to you right now. Have that, and you have companies that are a good fit and in market at present. From there, you look into if and how they’re engaging with you in order to start building your strategy. Once your strategy is in place, it’s time to get utterly concentrated on marketing to those few accounts – and only them.
Get Your Sales Hyper-Focused
The account-based philosophy was originally centered on marketing, but it really needs to be infused into your entire go-to-market in order to be effective. In terms of sales, you need to get just as focused as you’re going to in your marketing and other areas. For example, you might have a niche product you know you can sell to 200 companies out there in the marketplace. If marketing is spending all of their time, budget, and resources on those 200 companies and not wasting it anywhere else – like we just discussed – sales is already going to be immensely more successful.
Salespeople will no longer need to spend half their time researching accounts; they’ll be able to spend all of their time selling. The other benefit of this approach is that marketing’s involvement early on means these accounts are being influenced far earlier in the buyer journey and will be much more primed for engagement once sales does communicate with them. They’ll also already have an understanding of your unique selling proposition (USP) and value.
This plays really nicely into the fact that B2B buying committees often include anywhere from eight to twelve people these days. Each of these folks will do research on and off your website, so it’s key that marketing identifies them and reaches out to them in order to share the same messaging that sales is having with a few of them. This will make the buyer experience more consistent and optimized, and lead to better outcomes.
Embrace a Smaller But Stronger Pipeline
Of course, your pipeline is going to seem to shrink as you narrow your focus. But it’s actually going to be much stronger. Your new view should be that every minute, every dollar, and every element of your sales and marketing resources should be focused only on those good fit accounts that you can actually sell to. As a result, your pipeline of opportunities will close faster at a higher average order value and deliver improved close rates. And that’s what everyone is really trying to achieve, right?
Focus On What Really Matters
For some reason, even super smart marketers are still zeroing in on metrics that are superfluous. They often sit in a meeting and talk about getting 500 impressions and a .7% click-through-rate – but how does that contribute to the company’s goals and revenue targets? It doesn’t. This mindset comes from B2C, where the greater the number of impressions, the better since their products are able to be purchased by most people. But in B2B, this is the opposite of what you want.
Instead, you need to be able to say that you’ve delivered 100 impressions within a specific target company. You want to be able to tell your exec team how much budget you’ve spent on those target accounts, and the results you’ve seen in terms of content engagement, intent signals and so forth. These measurements can actually be turned into opportunities with sales and real results. Even if they’re optically lower numbers, their impact is enormously greater.
It’s a difficult time for businesses globally, as we all try to get through these tough economic conditions. But if you get smarter about your go-to-market and relentlessly pursue only your best-fit accounts, you’ll not only hit the same targets with less – but you may even exceed them. Even after the economy levels back out, remember the power of adopting a truly account-based approach. It will serve you in the darkest times, and the rest of the times, too.