It’s a small world, and with all the technological advances in recent years, it’s only getting smaller — and more lucrative. For Europe, specifically, it’s estimated that the continent’s economic activities account for about 33% of the world’s gross GDP despite only having 11% of the world’s population.
These developments present both an opportunity and a challenge for B2B marketers, as the expanded global reach means they can better target European accounts. Conversely, it also means they must adapt their current strategies to account for regional differences in strategies, outreach and communication.
To provide more insights into the European market, Demandbase, a go-to-market platform, revealed the results of its latest report, “Uncovering the Truth About Account-Based Strategies in Europe.” The company surveyed and interviewed senior marketers based in the U.K., Germany and Benelux on topics such as ABM maturity, common challenges and preferred strategies from leading practitioners.
“We’ve been growing rapidly across Europe and other regions, so our customer base has naturally become a lot more diverse, as well,” said Paul Gibson, EMEA Vice President for Demandbase, in a statement. “Our goal with this study was to discover what unites and divides us on these issues in different parts of the world and, more importantly, to unlock further secrets to account-based success. We learned a lot through this research, like how many of the leading B2B companies are facing the same issues no matter where they’re based. With this new intel, we can continue to advance the industry and better serve B2B leaders everywhere.”
Throughout this report, we’ll analyze:
- How the adoption of account-based strategies has grown over the past two years;
- The critical nature of tightly aligned sales and marketing teams when targeting global accounts; and
- How companies are refining their strategies and outreach channels to meet the demands of target accounts worldwide.
The Impact Of Covid-19 On Account-Based Change
According to the experts surveyed, the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly shifted the traditional world of B2B marketing and, consequently, ABM strategies. The German consultants indicated there was a large adoption of account-based strategies in Germany, explaining that the approaches have significantly matured over the past two years to enable more targeted and better integrated campaigns.
With rapid maturity comes growing pains, which the respondents cited as issues with properly integrating technologies and ensuring the information is secure as it’s shared between different platforms. When that information — such as intent data — successfully makes it from point A to point B, it helps lessen the chance of GTM fragmentation and enables marketers to get more targeted with their campaigns. Without communicative tech, practitioners are hindered in their ability to target the right accounts at the right time with relevant information.
Of course, it’s not all just technological and strategy changes; the way customers interact with businesses has dramatically shifted as well.
“From a customer perspective, their needs have completely changed, the nature of the work they deliver has changed and, therefore, our approach must change in tandem,” said Paul Fleming, Sr. Sales Director EMEA at Autodesk, in the report. “As restrictions lift, it’s important to consider that many customers won’t want to return to the ‘face-to-face’ nature of conducting business — and, as salespeople, we have to respect that.”
Addressing The Sales/Marketing Alignment Issue
Is there a professional duo more akin to oil and water than sales and marketing? While it’s well-known marketing and sales must operate in lockstep to maximize ABM strategy success, many companies are still struggling to execute that alignment — and it becomes even more imperative when targeting global accounts.
The report itself suggested that the alignment should go beyond just sales and marketing to encompass success, product and account teams to help deliver the seamless, end-to-end alignment B2B buyers are craving. However, Philippe Ruttens, who is responsible for global demand generation, ABM and digital marketing at Cleverbridge, pointed out in the report that this isn’t a regional issue; it’s more reflective of a company’s culture.
That said, it’s a crude overstatement that all companies struggle with internal alignment. For Christian Weiss, Director of ABM EMEA at Autodesk, his ABM team, “serves as an extension of the sales team,” which means the teams work together to plan, prioritize and strategize on ABM strategies. He continued that leaders have to work to ensure sales and marketing appreciates the others’ work to create a stronger collaborative environment.
Of course, the report doesn’t focus solely on people alignment; it also discusses the role of technological alignment between sales and marketing technologies. The experts surveyed pointed out that this connects back with the importance of communicative tech stacks, as data silos are just as — if not more — destructive than departmental misalignment.
Targeting Strategies Across Regions
While the issues of pandemic-related changes and alignment are something most marketers seem to struggle with globally, a uniquely regional issue is identifying the outreach, assets and content that would resonate in specific regions. A major component of that stems from what’s considered socially acceptable in one area might be perceived as offensive in another.
Aside from messaging, marketers also must consider a region’s economics, regulatory restrictions, technology and other factor that influence target accounts’ channel preferences.
“We know that German brands are more likely to use XING over LinkedIn, or that U.S. brands want more product-centric messaging compared to the U.K., who prefers a narrative built around problem solving, so our approach changes based on this knowledge,” explained Renaye Edwards, Co-founder and Managing Director of Digital Radish.
In terms of scaling and evolving account-based approaches, the experts believe it’s all about analyzing intent data to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for growth. Autodesk’s Flemmings explained that those opportunities will stem from a company’s feedback loop, and the onus falls on the sales team to analyze what’s working or what’s not through planning and relying on data and technology. Additionally, he said this is best facilitated by an ongoing discussion between internal departments.
“As sales leaders, we need to really encourage that level of collaboration, and that comes from the top down,” he explained in the report. “We need to align with our colleagues in marketing, share regular updates, and be in constant communication. That’s how we’ll continue to progress.”