True Story: How Account-based Marketing Won a Key Account (with a VIP dinner)
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True Story: How Account-based Marketing Won a Key Account (with a VIP dinner)

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Featured Marketer: Edyta Kosnik.
Role: Senior Marketing Lead, Fabriq.
Discussion Topic: Account-based Marketing Case Study.

This Q&A article is a summary of the Podcast Interview.


Enterprise sales can bring a lot profit into your company - but it's complicated. You can't just call someone up and convince them to buy. There's an entire committee of people involved in an enterprise purchase - and each has their own agenda. Some will want your product. Others - not so much. You're chances will significantly if you know what's going on inside the company.

A Champion is the person inside an enterprise who has the most familiarity with the pain your product solves. Using your product may even boost their career. Find these people as soon as you can and start building a strong relationship. You'll need their help to overcome the detractors.

A Detractor is someone who feels threatened by your product, or is sandbagging the budget for a competitor. Any member of buying committee could be a detractor - IT, Procurement, Legal and Finance. So, if enterprise sales is like a game of snakes and ladders, where should you begin?

"Don't be afraid to grab a phone and start asking questions," says account-based marketing expert, Edyta Kosnik. In this interview, she describes the hidden challenges of selling to an enterprise account and what it takes to win the sale.

Q - What was the enterprise marketing challenge you were faced with?

A - I joined a small ERP provider to help them build and implement a growth marketing strategy. And to support them in clearing some accounts. One of the accounts was particularly important. But it was a very complex buying scenario and a very big account.

"It was hard to understand where we stood based on the limited feedback we were getting."

They were already two quarters into talks and there were twelve people involved at that stage. These were mostly senior C-suite people in finance, purchasing, IT, the field team and operations. The problem was that our Sales Development Rep (SDR) was spending hours trying to get through to someone.

We were not out of the game, but things were looking good. There were still some casual email and phone conversations, it we were not getting anywhere. It was clear we needed to understand what was holding us back.

Was there someone on their buying committee not in favor of our product? Maybe there was some misinformation? Possibly their priorities had changed? Did we need to shift any unfavorable beliefs about us? It was hard for me to understand where we stood based on the limited feedback we were getting.

Q - How did you use account-based marketing to identify the roadblocks?

A - I wanted to understand the prospect better so I picked up the phone. I called whoever I could from their buying committee. I kept asking questions: Why did they started looking for solution like ours? What are their unmet needs? What's on their wish list? What are the deal breakers? What does success look like for them? Who do they already trust? Maybe there was a larger competitor we couldn't compete with.

"The prospect was invited to an intimate and luxurious VIP dinner. An existing customer of ours would attend who'd used our product to solve a similar problem."

I made it my personal goal to find out what was keeping them up at night. The answers to my questions became the bridge between winning or losing them as a customer. The call helped me to realize we had a detractor on the buying committee.

This person preferred a bigger better known brand. At that point I thought the best approach would be to regroup our forces and build an internal community sales team. The team I assembled included our CEO, CTO and Regional Director.

The prospect was invited to an intimate and luxurious VIP dinner. An existing customer of ours would attend who'd used our product to solve a similar problem. Direct mail was used to send beautiful, expensive invitations. These were followed up by a call from our Director to personally invite them to the dinner.

Q - How did things turn out at the VIP dinner?

A - The dinner worked great. It was an informal event that was extremely fruitful for the prospect's buying team. Almost everyone on their team attended and engaged with our community sales team.

"We discussed the issues and established a personal connection. At that point our team felt the bar had been lifted."

It turned out that we had a lot of common ground. Some of the guys played golf on the same course. We discussed the issues and established a personal connection. At that point our team felt the bar had been lifted.

Q - Were there any specific issues holding back the sale?

A - It was a bit of everything. Personal connections were weak until we brought people together to strengthen the relationship. Our team found common ground, and the casual setting of the VIP dinner made it easy.

At one point they discussed golf... "Oh by the way. Do you play golf? Oh, really. So, you are playing on that course? I'm playing at the same one." Finding common like this on personal preferences brought our team and their closer. Once you've built rapport, it's difficult to become strangers again. Your relationship with the customer is now on a different level.

"Account-based marketing lets you be a small fish in the pond and still win a big account."

We made sure we understood their business issues well. Bringing one of our existing customers helped immensely. The guy had a lot to talk about. There were plenty of real life questions about our product. We were able to delve into details that no video or case study could provide. It was real.

We followed up with a thank you email. The prospect then asked for a demo meeting with a full buying team. So the VIP dinner was a success. This happened about a week after the dinner and was attended by our entire community sales team. I wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered.

"Relationship building works in marketing. Don't be afraid of grabbing a phone and asking questions. It's not just a sales job."

There were about twenty people in their room and we presented for about seven hours. It was tough, but our team did great. The result was we had a further meeting with certain decision makers. We agreed to place a consultant on-site and we shook hands on a pre-agreement. So we won them. We were thrilled.

I think we proved that strategic relationship building works in marketing. Don't be afraid of grabbing a phone and asking questions. It's not just a sales job. Sales and marketing must work together as a team to succeed. And we proved account-based marketing lets you be a small fish in a big pond and still win a big account. That is, if you know how to play the game.

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