Nigel Cullington, VP of Marketing of Upland Software’s Sales Effectiveness Division, spoke with Alex Gluz on the Revenue Engine Podcast about the vital lessons outlined from real life sellers in his recent book, Not Just Another Vendor.
Account-Based Sales and Account-Based Marketing are the Way of the Future
While the conversation covered a broad range of topics, including Nigel’s illustrious career, rising from Actuary to sales leader turned marketing extraordinaire, when it came to the advice he would give businesses looking to establish an effective account planning practice, he emphasized that the most fundamental of those best practices aren’t really his at all. “The best practices I recommend aren’t from me at all – they’re from real sellers we interviewed when compiling our book, Not Just Another Vendor,” he says.
The Four Most Important Best Practices Inspired by Sales Leaders
Nigel outlines four key areas businesses need to focus on to excel at account planning.
First and foremost, Nigel highlights the importance of knowing who your key buyers are, and deeply understanding them. It’s only through understanding that ideal customer profile and diving deeply into who your customers are and what their biggest motivations are that you can begin to solve their challenges.
Second, sellers need to align their sales processes to their customers’ buying cycles. This means having a defined sales process. In fact, Nigel highlights that those sales teams that have defined sales processes are 3x more likely to win than those that simply wing it.
(If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of having a detailed sales process, take a look at our recent webinar on sales process).
Third, winning sales teams (like those highlighted in the book) have unparalleled deal execution and management. They ask themselves, “is there truly an opportunity here? Can we compete and win that deal? And, if so, is it even worth winning in the first place?”
Time is a seller’s most vital resource. They need to focus on the deals they can win and not waste that precious resource on deals that have no right being in front of them in the first place.
And, finally, Nigel highlights the rise of the revenue team. Sales and marketing teams that align on a common goal are 40% more likely to win and exceed their goals than their peers who don’t take this vital step. Everything from finding white space in accounts, to developing a deeper customer understanding, to tackling buying groups as a team is only possible through a real, revenue team approach to selling
Lone wolf sellers, frankly, are out.
Account-Based Selling Takes a Revenue Team
These four account planning best practices shed light on the importance of relationships and collaboration in modern sales motions.
It’s the power of relationships that help sellers stand out in today’s competitive business landscape. Rather than taking a “spray and pray” approach to selling, successful sellers are focusing on a targeted, account-based sales approach to their accounts.
“Marketers need to understand sales in order to be successful, and sellers need to understand marketing,” he says.
In an account-based selling world, sales and marketing, as well as other customer-facing roles, are centered on the same goal.
“We call this the revenue team,” says Nigel. And the revenue team is something highly focused on in Not Just Another Vendor, where entire teams pull together in order to get the deal over the line, and build strong relationships.
AI Will Play An Increasingly Important Role in Business
Of course, like any good, current business discussion, talk turned to AI. “We use it sparingly today, but as time goes on, I expect both sales and marketing teams will continue to rely on AI not to replace what they do, but to augment their daily activities, and make themselves more productive,” says Nigel.
Sales does have a huge application for AI, and it’s becoming more possible for organizations of any size to rely on AI thanks to innovations from Salesforce.
“AI is going to have the next biggest impact over the next several years,” says Nigel. “It’s unclear how companies will bring on AI. But rather than replace marketing teams, it is going to augment their workloads.”
At the end of the day, shiny new martech stacks are only going to deliver value if there is a tight partnership with sales.
Listen to the whole podcast via the link above, and download our recent eBook, The Practice of Account Planning to learn more about the delicate art and science of account planning from Nigel Cullington.