Traditionally, leads and accounts were treated as incompatible — but Jon Russo, CMO of sales and marketing performance firm B2B Fusion, explained that many practitioners have a lead motion and an account motion, and they exist as two separate entities. But that’s no longer acceptable in the modern selling environment, where practitioners need a unified view into buying motions as prospects and customers demand more personalization.
“It’s difficult for a marketer to think, ‘Well, how do I put ABM and leads in my systems and measure everything?” Russo explained. “People just don’t know how to think about the unified funnel because they’re too focused on lead- and account-based.”
To dive deeper into the power of the unified funnel (and discuss the key components that are missing from the industry narrative), the ABM In Action team sat down with Russo to explore the components needed to unify those disparate motions.
ABM In Action: A unified funnel is the ideal outcome so practitioners can track all buying activities. Why is it important practitioners unite their funnels?
Jon Russo: Typically, you’ll have a lead funnel, an account funnel and a sales funnel, but your CEO or CFO isn’t trying to reconcile all these different funnels; they view it as one go-to-market (GTM) motion. But marketers often don’t see leads as part of an account.
ABMIA: Bringing leads and accounts together in a singular system is difficult and requires a lot of manpower and technology — what advice do you have for companies looking to unify the two?
Russo: It starts with change management. First, you need to define the lead process, then define the account process and finally put the right architecture into place to support your singular lead and account process. If you have partners, referrals or even “contact us” as your inbound channels, you should be able to use all those as filters for volume and velocity for your one funnel.
Performing a lead- and account-based motion requires a data architecture. That architecture typically sits in Salesforce, which marketers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. But they need to access it frequently; it’s critical to get to that next step.
ABMIA: What would a technology stack to execute these motions look like?
Russo: A best-in-class tech stack would include an account-based technology, marketing automation platform and a customer relationship management system. Those are the three critical ingredients, but you can improve by implementing “nice to have” solutions, such as a lead routing platform, a sales engagement platform and a sales execution platform.
ABMIA: What are some of the challenges organizations often face when working to deploy the unified funnel? Are there any key areas that are often overlooked?
Russo: Oftentimes, practitioners and thought leaders miss the SDR productivity side of the funnel. And that’s where the rubber meets the road: You can have the best reporting in the world, but if your SDRs aren’t following up on things, it won’t be productive.
Marketers often lose sight of SDR productivity, and in today’s environment, sales efficiency and productivity is top of mind for everyone. You don’t want to introduce technology without being thoughtful around SDRs’ workflow, because that workflow should in turn feed the unified funnel.
ABMIA: What steps can organizations take to better account for SDR motions?
Russo: The first tip is not measure in data visualization platforms, because the insights from the account sit in a different platform, and they’re not in the workflows of SDRs. Those technologies don’t help sales productivity; they’re good for pretty dashboards. You need to be in the SDRs’ workflow.
You also need the right technology, which allow you to track and attribute deals through your platforms. You need to be able to say, “This intent drove this deal through the pipeline.” And there’s data architecture behind that, which we talked about earlier.
ABMIA: Do you have any statistics or examples about how a unified funnel benefits organizations?
Russo: I recently worked with Amplience, a digital experience platform, to help them roll-up account data from disjointed metrics on several global clients and prospects and increase the productivity of their sales teams. By implementing the unified view, the company saw:
- A 6.5X higher conversation rate on a 6sense qualified account versus traditional cold outbound;
- 83% of its opportunities come from accounts in the decision and purchase stage, compared to 55% previously; and
- A 36% increase in the average first-year annual contract value for deals entering the pipeline.
ABMIA: Why do you think SDRs aren’t accounted for when discussing the unified funnel?
Russo: In my operating role, I ran an SDR function, as have my team members. So, we’re probably biased on how the salesperson thinks of change. Marketers get enamored with tools, whereas a salesperson wants a simple, scalable and repeatable process. I have an SDR background, so I’m more thoughtful about it, but I’ve also studied hundreds of clients and looked at their entire sales and marketing engine. I think more holistically about sales and marketing driving revenue, as opposed to just marketing.