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Several major paradigm shifts are brewing in the workplace. We're embarking on a new era—the employee relationship economy. Just like the sales funnel, no longer do employee relationships have a fixed start and end date. In this new era, employee relationships will be characterized not as end-to-end but beginning-to-beginning. ... read more

Startups Sales Relationship Management Referrals

Why Account-Based Marketing and Relationship Intelligence is a Perfect Union

By Anne Gherini

Although the concept was introduced more than a decade ago, account-based marketing (ABM) has experienced a recent surge in popularity. The crux of ABM campaigns is to target only the most valuable accounts and treat them as unique entities. It involves crafting highly-personalized experiences in an omni-channel strategy specific to each account. The ultimate objective is to forge long-term relationships.

Relationship intelligence is a fairly new concept to the sales and marketing arena. Spearheaded by RelateIQ (which later became SalesforceIQ), Affinity has now taken the lead in redefining the sector. Relationship intelligence technologies analyze your team’s communication data and automatically create the relationship graph required to achieve business priorities. The relationship graph presents a holistic view of who your team knows and how well they know them, thereby showing you the best paths to introductions or referrals.

In B2B sales and marketing, the coupling of ABM and relationships intelligence is growing. In B2B, buying decisions are made by individuals with differing values, incentives, preferences, and priorities. In order to create deeply personalized buying experiences, salespeople must understand the unique sets of people and relationships that encompass an account.

Getting A Foot in The Door

The value of relationship intelligence can be realized at the earliest stages of the sales cycle. According to Forrester Research, 2/3 of B2B marketers cite engaging key decision makers as their top challenge. Relationship intelligence allows salespeople to identify the most effective inroads into target accounts. With Affinity, marketing and sales teams are able to easily map out the complete network of relationships that exist between members of their team and decision influencers at target accounts.

In cases where paths to introductions are weak or nonexistent, sales teams can leverage Affinity’s Alliances to expand their network and identify additional connections paths. A holistic view of the relationship map allows salespeople to pinpoint where they can most effectively leverage personal introductions in order to secure initial meetings. Personal introductions and referrals are incredibly powerful and on average convert at a 3-5x higher rate than other leads. We are more likely to trust introductions when they come from a close friend or connections.

Improving Sales Efficiency

ABM entails devoting an enormous amount of time to understanding the intricacies of each prospect. Oftentimes, the most valuable information about contacts is stored in emails and other forms of communication. With relationship intelligence tools, salespeople are able to gain fingertip access to crucial contextual information about prospects. With Affinity, they can avoid painstakingly searching their email to understand the nature of their relationships. Relationship data is easily accessible, salespeople can more effectively create compelling content is relevant to each buyer.

Improving Customer Relationships

ABM is laser-focused on developing long-term relationships with customers. When customers come in via referrals through relationship intelligence efforts they have a a 37% higher retention rate and 16% higher life-time value. This can give your customer success team a leg up in forging a solid relationship.

In addition, knowing the details and history of all your relationships with customers from the day they first transpired is immensely valuable. Relationship strength within an account is an important KPI that should be consistently measured and monitored. Oftentimes, account executives hand off accounts to customer success managers right after the close. This is a mistake. It is often more beneficial to nurture the relationship until relations are strengthened and strong rapport and trust exists, in turn increasing the trust and ensuring a smooth handoff.

This can also effectively increase your viral coefficient as happy retained customers are not only more likely to entertain upsells, but also are able to provide your team with more lucrative referrals and introductions.  Solid relationships can quickly translate to more revenue. 

Improving Account Retention

Employees frequently come and go, people are promoted, and job functions change. Sales and customer success teams often find themselves single-threaded within an organization. If your team only has one connection at an account and this connection leaves the company, the risk of account churn is high.

Armed with relationship intelligence tools, sales and CS are better able to ensure they are multi-threaded within an organization (i.e., connected to multiple stakeholders) and ensure relationships are strong. They can see all the stakeholders within an organization that anyone on their team has ever interacted with. Affinity even proactively prompts users to follow up with key contacts, ensuring that salespeople consistently nurture relationships and crucial relationships do not fall through the cracks.

According to SiriusDecisions’ State of Account-Based Marketing survey, 92% of companies recognize the value of ABM. Despite having enormous potential, 47% of companies don’t feel their teams exhibit the skills required to execute a successful ABM strategy. Relationship intelligence helps bridge this skills gap and is the backbone of an effective ABM strategy. Only with a 360-degree view of our relationships can we effectively develop deeply personalized experiences that align with an ABM approach.

Interested in learning how Affinity can help your team?
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Startups Sales Relationship Management Referrals