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Bridging the Divide - The Lead to Account Relationship

Bridging the Divide – The Lead to Account Relationship

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Bridging the Divide - The Lead to Account Relationship

The fundamental gap in our sales and marketing tech

The lack of lead-to-account relationships in our standard sales and marketing tech stack puts 4 key obstacles in the way of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) activities:

  1. Difficult ICP analysis and persona identification
  2. Inability to build lead lists from the target accounts
  3. Poor account-based routing for multi-channel campaigns
  4. Missed account-based attribution (too much emphasis on the persons journey and not enough on the accounts journey).

Iryna Zhuravel (Marketing Ops Director, Altium and two times Marketo Champion), and Calon Alpar (Senior Manager of Demand Generations, Watermark Insights), provide their insight on bridging lead and account gap in their technology stack. You will see how to overcome these obstacles and take your ABM activities to the next level by bridging the fundamental gap in CRM and MAP technology by using lead-to-account matching.

Introducing the great divide

ABM is about nurturing and growing our relationship with target accounts through personalizing how we engage with the people that work within them. Unfortunately, sales and marketing platforms keep people and lead records separate from accounts.

Sales automation software

We all know the downside of Salesforce don’t we? There is no way to clearly see if a lead belongs to an account; if there are other leads for that account; or if a lead is already a contact on an account. Accounts and leads are siloed. It has always been this way.

It is increasingly evident that as we shift to ABM and introduce more sophisticated marketing automation tools the divide between leads and accounts in our CRM makes it difficult to handle the complexities of B2B sales.

Marketing automation software

Marketing automation platforms (MAP), like Marketo, use person records. These too are siloed from accounts. Scoring and qualification is based on the person without considering account information. This results in ‘hostage leads’ being retained in our MAP, rather than routed to Sales.

For successful account-based marketing and sales activities we need to cease tracking person lifecycles, and analyse the business life cycles. To do this it is becoming more and more critical to bridge the great divide between leads and accounts.

1. Difficult ICP analysis and persona identification

Bridging the Divide - The Lead to Account Relationship

We do not have a holistic view of historical data that include the leads for our accounts. It is difficult to construct personas for the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) buying group as the full lead history of the persona engaged across the account buying cycle, their touchpoints and what content they consumed can’t be tracked. Without this historical data we may be building the wrong picture of our ICP from the start.

The Harvard Business Review reported that CEB research found the number of people involved in purchasing decisions has climbed from an average of 5.4 to 6.8 in two years. These people come from a variety of roles, functions, and locations within the organization. Personas are used to target, score, and prioritise leads; personalise messaging and content at different stages throughout the journey – focussing where there is greatest chance of success. To effectively build out personas and identify where they are at on the account journey you need key historical lead and account information to:

  • Identify what key characteristics and attributes form each persona
  • Identify who is engaged across your buying cycle
  • Calculate lead scores inclusive of key criteria from the account based on your ICP
  • Understand the persona’s role in the purchase decision and include in qualifying the lead
  • Provide the best content for persona’s at relevant stages of the journey.

If you are not doing this, you cannot match the right people with the right content at the right time.

"Not having the lead to account matching meant we were not able to market to leads efficiently…Having that extra account data really helps a lot with understanding different cohorts and segments of our audience."

- Calon Alpar

Senior Manager of Demand Generation at Watermark Insights

You cannot see what stage all your personas are at and market effectively for that stage of the account journey without the insight that a historical and holistic view of an account and its leads gives.

2. Inability to build a lead list from the target account

Bridging the Divide - The Lead to Account Relationship

Building a lead list for a target account is a real challenge for ABM. Without a connecting relationship between leads and accounts in your MAP and/or CRM you do not know the full suite of people you can target in relation to that account.

Targeting accounts that match our ICP leads to better success in sales conversions, and better use of our resources to achieve it. Criteria used to target may include firmographic information such as industry, company size, revenue, or technographic information such as what technologies are or aren’t used. The challenge for targeting in ABM is that this information is contained on the account record and can’t natively be used to then target leads.

While you may have a list of Tier 1 accounts, MAP and CRM only shows the contacts in connection with the account. This significantly reduces the number of people on your target lead list for the account and does not capture all those involved in the buyer group or buying cycle.

When Altium used Lead-to-Account matching to expand their target contacts, the effect on the Sales team was powerful.

Before matching leads to our accounts, we were excluding target decision makers from our ABM campaigns. After matching the leads, we saw

"Before matching leads to accounts, we were excluding dozens of leads per account from our ABM campaigns - a lot of which were target decision-makers on target accounts. Linking those leads was definitely critical to winning a lot of those deals."

- Iryna Zhuravel

Head of Growth at Altium | 2x Marketo Champion

Iryna explains in more detail how Altium uses lead to account matching to expand their target contacts in regards to a deal.

By using the native MAP and CRM lead-to-account structure, you will not have visibility of the leads and key people to reach out to in the buying journey. This means missed opportunities.

3. Account based routing & multi-channel campaigns

Marketers undertake multi-channel outbound efforts such as events, telemarketing, direct mail, social media, blogs and eBook and case study distribution for a campaign.

These activities create internal conversations within target accounts, which then drive inbound activity, often from stakeholders who are not the contacts our campaigns originally targeted. New person records are created in our MAP but are not matched to the target account. These records are not rolled up to the account level for use in account-based routing. This means all net new leads from our outbound activity are not routed to the Account Owner. Leads have the potential to be handled poorly, given incorrect pricing, and the Account Owner isn’t handed the relationship from the MAP into the CRM and misses the opportunity to follow up on interest or activity on their account.

Calon explains why he uses automated lead-to-account matching to provide streamlined and accurate account-based routing.


"For our lead routing, the most important thing that we need is understanding of the account to be able to fire all the routing rules we have."

- Bryan Vaughn

Director, Sales Operations at MCG Health

Without the joining of leads to accounts, multichannel campaigns are not captured and routed effectively, and your salespeople are unable to effectively manage account relationships.

4. Missed multi-channel attribution

Once we start to see conversions happen, if we do not match leads to accounts there will be missed attribution. Missed attribution across your channels, has a twofold effect:

  1. You are unable to learn what content works best for what personas across the account buying journey.
  2. You do not capture the potential ROI of these activities.

ABM is all about providing personalized content with relevance and meaning to the personas involved in the buying journey for the target account. Content is developed using account specific data, such as industry, size, stage in lifecycle and previous history. Correct attribution across all your channels identifies where to best place our resources for future success for that account. Attribution requires understanding content consumption across multiple channels and personas at different stages of the account journey. What is each persona engaging with? What interests them? What do they see is relevant? Where are they on the buying cycle?

"It helps you make your marketing campaigns more efficient and more targeted, making sure you are going to be relevant in your point."

- Iryna Zhuravel

To attribute across your channels, you need to include all:

  • Channels and touchpoints
  • Contacts associated with the account
  • Named and anonymous leads relating to the account

As lead-to-account relationships are not native in our MAP and CRM, knowing what your account’s leads are engaging with is a black hole. Without this context, you miss opportunities to understand lead content consumption for our target accounts and realise the ROI of our marketing activities.

How do you overcome 4 obstacles with a single solution?

Introduce lead-to-account matching into your MAP and CRM technology using a sophisticated data automation platform to bring together in synergy:

  • Historical lead-to-account matching
  • Ongoing data cleansing
  • Data enrichment to enhance lead-to-account matching, segmentation and account-based routing
  • Real time lead-to-account matching to auto match leads to accounts or auto convert matched leads to contacts depending on your business processes and analytic needs.

  • Look for a sophisticated matching solution that uses a combination of strict, fuzzy logic and Boolean and/or combinations on unlimited fields to create the best matches for your business. This ensures all combinations are catered for and matched even if spelled or written slightly differently.
  • Choose an easy to use platform that you can adjust within your own operations without the need of a data specialist. You want to be able to change and adjust as your business does.

And some final words from Calon…

Ultimately bridging the gap between leads and accounts is what will get you where to want to be on your ABM journey.

By linking leads-to-accounts you are taking steps to overcome the challenges inherent in our MAP and CRM technology so you can:

  • Identify your persona along the account journey
  • Build a lead list from the target account
  • Successfully route for leads generated by multi-channel campaigns
  • Correctly attribute across your channels.

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Bridging the Divide - The Lead to Account Relationship

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