Getting the Deal-Based Marketing basics right can be the difference between a sales pipeline that converts, and one that stagnates. Done well, Deal-Based Marketing can really accelerate warm leads through pipeline stages and see competitors out-maneuvered.
What is Deal-Based Marketing?
Deal-Based Marketing (DBM) is the art of marketing to an already engaged prospective customer in order to amplify sales messaging, differentiate the business, and increase the chances of sales success.
Deal-Based Marketing Basics
Often referred to as 'opportunity marketing', Deal Based Marketing is an increasingly popular method to drive a solid sales pipeline and bring a concerted effort from the combined sales and marketing team. Getting the team on the same page is crucial and to do that there are a few 'Deal-Based Marketing Basics' that need to be adhered to - and some really cannot be ignored.
Opportunity Review - get some time with the sales team and review everything they know about the opportunity. It is important to form a team early on, and therefore this is also a good way of bringing together the different parts of the sales team and all those (pre-sales, partner, sales lead etc) that can share the different pieces of information that can build a full picture.
The Prize - it is important to understand what you are aiming to win. How important is the deal to the business? How much is it worth? What profit margin can be assigned to it? Can it open more opportunities in the account? Can it open a new market? Knowing the prize - and being very clear about this, will enable the team to assign the goal and also justify the time and spend investment.
Account Research - unless the sales team has worked with the client for some time, knowledge of the company will likely be lacking. Understanding the company, its strategy, and most importantly the key contacts - is crucial. It is the most important step in DBM as it underpins the entire process.
Deal-Based Marketing Account Research
Account research is the foundation of Deal-Based Marketing. It is the keystone, the core piece of work which cannot be ignored. It also has to be the first activity completed as soon as an account is nominated as a DBM account.
Why is account research so important to DBM work? Unless the sales and marketing teams understand the customer better than their competitors, there is no way to really differentiate messaging and demonstrate the difference between their approach and that of the competitors. It is also the one piece of information that the sales and marketing teams can share - such that they can build a solid DBM plan.
What Needs To Be Included In Your Research?
Account research is never easy to conduct - and the larger the account, the more time it will take to complete. This is often the reason why companies fail to deliver it - and why their DBM efforts fail to really gain traction. On average, for a reasonable-sized business, it can take a couple of days to find the information needed to really build a great DBM plan. So, what are you going to need to research?
Company strategy - what are they looking to achieve and why? What timescales are they working to? What targets are they looking to hit? What terminology are they using when referring to the strategic goals?
Leadership Team - who makes up the executive team - particularly those that will have an influence on your project.
Influencing Team - which roles will have an influence on the project decision? Are there some key managers or influential users of your future product or service?
Current Partners - who do they work with? What aspect of the business do they engage with? Do you have relationships with any of those partners?
Latest News - take time to investigate the latest news surrounding the business. What are they saying in the press and what are others saying about them? Is there anything new and pertinent that you can refer to?
Terminology and Language - are there any three letter-acronyms that they use that might differentiate your messaging? Do they refer to their employees in a specific way or talk about a project in a certain language? Anything that helps your DBM messaging land better is really helpful.
New Joiners and Open Roles - are there any new employees that have recently joined the business and may impact your project? Are they recruiting new employees - and if so, what skills are they looking for? This can be telling.
Who Should Research The Account?
Different businesses have different opinions about who should conduct the account research. If DBM is to be commonly used across the sales and marketing team (i.e. this is not a one-off deal that we are trying this on), account research might be a regular occurrence and therefore it is important to assign the right employees to the job. Ideally, the person researching the account should be experienced and skilled in customer research and messaging. The sales lead is an ideal person to do it, but if they have more than one strategic account, it can be difficult for them to find the time (or dedicate enough time) to the task. External vendors like Viewpoint Analysis do this on a regular basis and have a team focused just on this exercise - you can find out more here.
What Should You Do With The Research?
Once the research is completed, it should be distributed far and wide within the business. The sales and marketing teams should be on the same page and all members of the two teams should have had an opportunity to review the document and add any relevant information that might improve the research. It should also be shared with adjacent teams - management, pre-sales, consulting - anyone that has a role to play in the sales or marketing effort.
Building The DBM Plan
Now the team understands the customer requirement (following the conversation with the account team) and has an intimate understanding of the company, its strategy, and the key contacts (due to the account research work), the DBM tactics and plan can start to be created.
What Might Be Included In The DBM Plan?
This is where the marketing team gets to be really creative. Remember that we are trying to amplify the brand messaging and differentiate the team's approach - making use of the knowledge that we have compared to our competitors in the sales process.
Targeted Messages - can we echo and amplify the key messages that the sales team will be delivering in their sales presentations or RFP responses? By the way - do you know what those are - it's really important to be on the same page here.
Timely Events - can we invite the key personnel to events that may give them a 'non-sales-based' view of the company and our culture? We don't want to be seen to be actively selling - we are supporting the messaging.
Promotions - might we want to offer a promotion for the product or service that we are looking to sell?
Deal Influencers - could we look to target the influencers that surround the deal?
Board Messaging - knowing that the decision and investment will be taken up the chain of command, do we know who will likely be a part of this (from the account research) and can we create specific supporting messaging or brand awareness amongst those contacts?
Partners - from our account research, we might now know which partners have an active engagement. Can we connect with those partners and determine if they have contacts that might be useful to us. What messaging can the partners deliver for us? What assets would be helpful here? How about an event where we can work with the partner and invite the customer?
As we build the plan, think about the timing involved. Many enterprise deals will take months to conclude - but the DBM plan needs to move as quickly as it possibly can. The sales cycle can be influenced at every stage - if it takes too long to build the DBM plan for the account, it will have an impact. The longer it takes - the bigger the impact.
Getting the Deal-Based Marketing basics right can be the difference between a sales pipeline that converts, and one that stagnates. Done well, Deal-Based Marketing can really accelerate warm leads through the pipeline and see competitors out-maneuvered.
Put the work in. It can feel difficult and dull when going through the account research exercise, but the results can be phenomenal.
If you want to know more about DBM Account Research, or drop us a note at email@example.com