Smarketing - Solving Your Marketing and Sales Divide - Punch!

Smarketing – Solving Your Marketing and Sales Divide

Have you ever watched the 4x100m relay race in the Olympics? The current men’s world record was set at the London 2012 games by the Jamaican team, smashing their own record from a year prior by almost 0.2 seconds. It’s a thing of beauty really and perhaps my favourite event at the games because it’s a great showcase of teamwork. Each person working to get to the next, delivering the baton to them as efficiently as possible. This is what your organisation should be like; marketing should be working to deliver the baton to the sales team who are at the end of the relay race, trying to get over the sales finish line.

Better Together

The term ‘Smarketing’ is an amalgamation of sales and marketing. The philosophy is that it’s integral to account-based marketing success that the marketing and sales teams align. The earlier this is achieved, the better for long term success using the ABM process.

Episode 4 of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast discusses the merits of creating a ‘one team’ culture. Essentially the same as Smarketing, ‘one team’ culture promotes a togetherness of certain teams within an organisation that are all buying into the same philosophy. The one question that every person in the Smarketing team should be asking themselves on a reoccurring basis is; are you acting together for the benefit of the team and ultimately, the customer? This one question summarises the Smarketing viewpoint in a concise way that reiterates the message. In theory, if marketing and sales are aligned, not only will it generate more revenue, but it should make for a better customer experience.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Content is such an important part of uniting marketing and sales; as soon as the prospect is engaged, marketing should be backing up sales with content right until the deal is closed. Marketing should be sales’ greatest asset, but if they’re not aligned, then marketing can be delivering bad content to sales, making them more of a hindrance than a help. But this can be remedied; the first and most important step is to admit that there’s a problem in the first place. Many people don’t even realise it; a shocking statistic from Kapost suggests that 65% of sales reps say they can’t find relevant content to send to a prospect. Furthermore, 60-70% of B2B content created is never used, because it is irrelevant or simply just not good enough (Source: Content Marketing Institute). Smarketing can help solve a common problem, you need to pinpoint the flaws where communication between marketing and sales is falling short of the mark (whether this be separate meetings, different goals, or simply office set up). If marketing and sales communicate better, then the content should be more effective.

Another common problem that causes friction between marketing and sales is that it’s hard to track the success of the marketing team. Sales get frustrated with marketing because they can’t see their contribution towards revenue. It’s not marketing’s fault, they’re in a completely different job role and traditionally have different goals. However, if the Smarketing viewpoint is adopted, then there should be less conflict, because the two teams are understanding of the others’ role and they should be working towards targets that are aligned.

It’s all well and good throwing around buzz words like Smarketing and ‘one team’, but if there’s not a structure in place that supports the notion, then things aren’t going to change. This structure will involve meetings and workshops where marketing and sales are both equally involved and both input ideas about how to best succeed. Marketing and sales have different viewpoints because they have different roles, so what can marketing be doing to help sales and vice versa?

Come Together

A simple but easy remedy to misalignment amongst teams is socialising. Whether this occurs by moving the office so that marketing and sales sit amongst each other, or by socialising outside of the office. As Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing suggest, after two and a half pitchers of beer, you’ll find out the problems that sales have. It’s much easier to be on the same page as someone if you understand them better as a person, and spending time with them in a non-office related environment can be instrumental in building a relationship. Essentially, go for beers with the office! (Drink responsibly)

According to Marketo, companies with aligned sales and marketing teams generate 208% more revenue and close 67% more of their deals. While these stats are slightly ambiguous, there is more concrete evidence that supports the hypothesis. For example, the Act-On Sales and Marketing Alignment survey of 2015 found that 56% of teams adopting the Smarketing mind-set met their goals and 19% exceeded them; compared to 37% and 7% respectively for teams that were not aligned.

Shoplifters Marketers of the World Unite

To conclude, marketing and sales should be working in tandem. Indulge me in an analogy; account-based marketing is the proverbial tandem bicycle, marketing is on the back of the bike, pedalling to support sales, while sales is on the front, pedalling to reach their goal. If Smarketing is achieved, then everyone rides off into the sunset.

It’s much more beneficial to the long term success of an ABM business to align their sales and marketing teams than to leave the two teams to their own devices. One important thing to note is that it’s not just marketing and sales that can align: customer success, account executives, BDRs/SDRs, etc. If the whole organisation buys in to the Smarketing ‘one team’ way of thinking, the more success you’ll find with account-based marketing.


One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.


It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.


But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?


Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –


  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.


A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.


By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.


If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?


Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.


The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.


How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.


Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.


It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.


The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –


  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner


In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?


Some industries are booming at the moment such as:


  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.


If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.


Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.