Select Page

Get your own copy of Driven every week.

    Library of emails

    Issue 40

    August 8, 2020


    How sales and marketing are adapting

    What’s happening with account-based marketing


    Sir Winston Churchill, who led the United Kingdom through the darkest days of World War II, famously said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

    Today, leading B2B companies are showing Churchillian mettle by putting Covid-19 to positive use.

    Your first article this week answers this question:


    How are B2B vendors using the Covid-19 crisis to strengthen their sales and marketing?

    Your second article looks at the adoption of account-based marketing (ABM) in B2B companies.

    It describes how companies are faring in their sometimes unsteady transition away from lead generation.


    How sales and marketing teams are meeting the new expectations of business buyers

    In any changing environment, adaptation is crucial to survival.

    With the massive changes Covid-19 has caused in just 6 months, companies have had to adapt faster than at any time since World War II.

    This article shares insights about how companies are changing.

    It shares recent survey research from multiple sources. It also provides ideas for responses for your organization to consider.

    What U.S. sales and marketing teams are doing differently now

    McKinsey surveyed B2B companies of all sizes across 11 geographies in April.

    Here are the major changes they found among U.S. companies:

    1. Cuts to marketing budgets

    More than half have reduced marketing spending across all regions.

    2. New go-to-market approaches

    Nearly all companies have changed their go-to-market model in response to Covid-19.

    3. Adoption of omnichannel selling

    The pandemic sped up prior trends toward omnichannel selling, McKinsey says, but their report doesn’t define what this means.

    I think it means that a vendor offers the same quality of buying experience across any channel their customers choose.

    4. Pivot to remote, tech-enabled selling

    All sales people have shifted to inside sales, at least temporarily.

    Most vendors have pivoted to remote selling. And they enable much of their remote selling through technology.

    About two-thirds say remote selling is as effective or more effective than the way they sold before the pandemic.

    More than three-quarters say they expect to continue selling remotely for more than a year after the onset of Covid-19.

    5. Changed sales compensation and incentives

    Most (80%) of companies have changed compensation or incentives for their sales teams.

    Changes include lower quotas (30%), higher quotas (20%), and introduction of short-term incentives or bonuses.

    4. Growth of ecommerce

    For companies that sell online, the percentage of total revenue driven by e-commerce has risen by almost a third.

    Although few Driven readers work for companies that engage in ecommerce, the shift is worth noting if you sell technology to companies that do.

    Another study, by eMarketer and reported in eBusiness, found that B2B vendors are…

    • Conducting more research into customers and prospects to understand what they need
    • Providing more flexibility to help customers with payment options, contract buyouts, etc.
    • Improving data and insights on customers and markets
    • Increasing investment in ecommerce or online sales capabilities
    • Investing in technology and systems to improve customer service
    • Making fewer face-to-face sales visits to customers and prospects
    • Cutting out the middleman. Selling directly to customers.

    These changes appear in declining order of adoption.

    The highest adoption rate is about 70%. The lowest is about 55%. (Survey date: May 28, 2020.)

    What you can do now

    McKinsey suggests you do these things:

    1. Deliver the 3 things buyers say they value most:

    • Speed
    • Transparency
    • Expertise

    Ensure that you can do so across all your sales channels.

    2. Integrate and coordinate across your channels.

    Ensure that your content, messaging, and quality of customer experience are consistent across all your sales channels – including your partner network.

    Provide all partners and channels with incentives to collaborate with each other.

    3. Think how you can offer a human touch.

    Help offset the impersonal aspects of doing business through digital channels.

    Provide the option for customers to interact with a person whenever customers want or need to.

    Do so through both your inside sales and field sales channels.

    Consider adding live chat capabilities (not just chatbots) to your website.

    4. Establish a team of experts who can help your sellers adopt digital technologies.

    Have these experts help…

    • Face-to-face sellers migrate to digital channels
    • All sellers use new technologies and tools.

    For more ideas on how you can adapt, remember to check Drivenissue 39 here.


    “Are you prepared for the great B2B Customer experience reset?”Amanda Davis. July 24, 2020. CustomerThink blog.

    “Survey: U.S. B2B Decision Maker Response to COVID-19 Crisis.”McKinsey & Company. May 2, 2020.

    “The Digital B2B Inflection Point: How B2B sales have changed during Covid-19.” April 30, 2020. Liz Harrison. Ryan Gavin. Candace Lun Plotkin. Dennis Spilleke. Jennifer Stanley. McKinsey & Company.

    Also see this infographic of the same title and by the same authors, dated July 14, 2020.

    “COVID-19: Implications for Business.” August 6, 2020. Executive Briefing. McKinsey & Company.

    Alert for potentially skewed or biased survey results

    The changes cited from the McKinsey surveys apply mostly to the United States.

    For detailed McKinsey findings by geography, go here: “How B2B Decision makers are responding to the coronavirus crisis.” May 2, 2020. From this web page you can select detailed survey results for each of these geographies: Asia-Pacific (APAC), Brazil, China, Europe, France, Germany, Global, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.]

    This graphic shows a demographic breakdown of respondents to the McKinsey survey:

    ​Dig deeper

    For TOPO’s ideas on how your company can adjust your sales and marketing during COVID-19, see this document:

    “The COVID-19 Pandemic: The New Framework for Revenue Growth.” Craig Rosenberg. TOPO. [Downloadable PDF. 18 pages. No charge. Gated. The PDF contains slides Rosenberg presented at the TOPO Summit in April 2020.]


    How U.S. companies are adopting account-based marketing

    Account-based marketing has become a dominant go-to-market strategy for U.S. companies. But many still struggle with some aspects of their adoption.

    This is the conclusion of a study Demand Gen Report just released in July 2020.

    Demandbase, a technology company that provides software for account-based marketing, sponsored the study.

    Here are the top 10 findings:

    1. Companies that sell software and IT products lead the pack in adoption of ABM.

    2. Early adopters see positive results.

    They measure their results by return on investment.

    3. Budgets are rising.

    ABM is getting a rising share of marketing budgets as companies see early success with their programs.

    ABM programs got 20% total marketing budgets in 2019 and 28% in 2020.

    Overall, budgets for ABM rose by 40% year-over-year.

    4. ABM is most common in bigger companies.

    Most companies with a thousand employees or more (91%) have made commitments to ABM:

    They have ABM program in place, a pilot program going, or they plan to get started in the next 6 months.

    5. Programs are weakest in measuring their effectiveness.

    This appears paradoxical.

    Early adopters say they’re expanding their programs because they’ve shown positive return on investment.

    If they can’t measure effectiveness, how do they know they achieve positive ROI?

    6. Companies have trouble letting go of lead generation.

    Account-based marketing turns lead generation on its head.

    With ABM, marketers no long measure success by the number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) they deliver. Rather, they measure it by the quality of engagement they achieve in targeted accounts.

    Most ABM practitioners come from lead-generation roles. The transition to this new way of thinking is hard for them.

    7. More budget goes toward creating content and choosing target accounts.

    Companies are allocating less money for content syndication, inbound marketing, and events.

    8. Expansion of ABM programs is a top priority.

    Companies plan to expand their use of ABM to target net-new accounts.

    But companies also expect growth to come equally from current customers.

    9. Poor data quality is a big problem.

    Uneven quality of data is the top challenge for all respondents.

    In particular, ABM practitioners have trouble with accuracy and consistency of account and contact data.

    10. Top tools for success in ABM are customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation and planning (MAP), and LinkedIn.


    2020 ABM Market Research Study. Demand Gen Report. Sponsored by Demandbase. July 2020. [Downloadable PDF. 44 pages. No charge.]


    That’s it for this week.

    Please share

    If you’ve enjoyed this issue of Driven, please share it with a colleague or a friend. And encourage them to subscribe.

    Archived issues

    For back issues of Driven, go to the archive here.

    Have a great week.


    Dave Vranicar


    Driven is a free weekly email for hyper-busy revenue leaders in business-to-business SaaS companies.

    Its goal is to keep you informed about a broad range of topics related to revenue growth.

    We scan the horizon for insights and ideas from sources you may otherwise miss.

    You can receive your own copy of Driven at no charge by sharing your email address here.

    About links, endorsements, and recommendations

    When I provide links to articles from vendors, it does not imply an endorsement of their products or services. I link to them because they offer good content.

    I’ll make it clear when I’m recommending a product or service. 

    © 2020. SilverStream LLC. All rights reserved.