Do you ever sit back and think how utopian the world of account-based marketing (ABM) seems? If we’re being honest, the idea of a “one team” and “one revenue scorecard” sounds phenomenal in theory, but nearly impossible to actually execute. Right?

I’ve talked to a lot of B2B marketers about this, and they universally love the concept right away. But then they start thinking it through, and I watch as a cloud of doubt rolls over their faces. And I can guess what they’re thinking: “So, I won’t get credit for all the campaigns I’ve worked so hard on?” “I won’t have any way to know if my job is danger, because everyone will be judged according to revenue?” “How can this ever actually work?”

The good news is that ABM can, and does, work — and it works wonderfully when done well. But it also requires work and intention to get you from where you are now to operating as one team. Here’s how to make that transition a reality, and start reaping the rewards.

Establish Trust Between Marketing and Sales

This is hardly scientific, but I’d estimate that 99.8 percent of the problems between sales and marketing come down to a lack of trust (and the other 0.2 percent are probably disagreements about what to bring in for lunch). Sales doesn’t trust the quality of the leads marketing provides. Marketing doesn’t trust that sales will adequately convert those leads. Then when things go well, both departments want to take credit. And when things go south, both departments immediately start pointing fingers at each other.

In order to undo years of bickering and competition, you must lay a new foundation of trust. The best place to start? Let the marketing department own your account selection process. Yes, the whole thing. Marketing should create a “fit-and-intent” model, categorizing accounts by how fit they are to use your brand and whether they’re showing any intention of actually doing so. This will help marketing establish how much of the market you have to sell to.

Then, instead of inundating sales with far too many leads to sort through, marketing can be strategic and pass along the fit companies that are showing intent. This whole process will create trust between the two departments, because sales will see that marketing knows the market and has taken the time to prioritize a list of suitable accounts that it would be worthwhile to speak to.

Related Article: Account-Based Marketing: Digging Into Facts, Uprooting Myths

It Takes Two to Tango

Once sales gets the prioritized list of accounts from marketing, it can immediately pursue those showing the most intent. The ones that are fit but are not showing intent can then be tackled by sales and marketing together. The two departments must work alongside each other to start creating engagement with that list of accounts. Marketing can lead sales in measuring which engagement methods are working or not, and they can both work through this process together — over and over again. By approaching the challenge in tandem, the (one) team will have far more support and a much better shot at reeling in those accounts than either one would have had on its own.

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One Team, One Scorecard

Once trust has been laid and collaboration is happening, what’s next? You have to get rid of the old “marketing vs. sales” scorecard that has traditionally been used (either formally or informally) to tally up who gets credit for which results. After all, that old way of looking at things is what caused the great US retail and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker to famously say, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Rather than looking at which department was responsible for which touchpoint, the modern scorecard should instead reveal which target accounts (and marketing-qualified accounts) are engaged, what opportunities have been created (and their value), and all the closed-won details you could want to measure success.

That way, marketing and sales are jointly held accountable for pipeline and revenue, and your progress with your target accounts can be tracked and optimized. No one will have to wonder whether revenue is growing; you can see it plainly, and adjust course if necessary.

Yes, “one team” might sound like a buzzphrase that people who are far too caffeinated and enthusiastic might chant at a conference. But becoming one team with one revenue scorecard is the only way to effectively run an ABM strategy. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and a company that operates as one team will always be far more successful than a group of individuals chasing their own goals and whims.

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