The State of Sales Acceleration: Q&A with Danilo Nikolich, Sr. Director of SDRs at RollWorks

ABM is here to stay. It's proven to be a key marketing strategy to create personalized experiences for accounts and accelerate sales in the process. But many organizations still aren’t leveraging this game-changing strategy to its full potential.

To lean into the bigger picture that ABM plays in accelerating sales, the Demand Gen Report team sat down with our very own Danilo Nikolich, RollWorks’ Sr. Director of SDRs.

The State of Sales Acceleration: Q&A with Danilo Nikolich, Sr. Director of SDRs at RollWorks

Q: What are the benefits of an ABM strategy for sales acceleration? 

A: There are many fundamental benefits to using an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. One of the more painfully obvious examples is to ease marketing and sales misalignment; another is to align on shared goals. For example, the marketing team may be focused on leads to create demand, whereas the sales team is focused on closing business. Instead, it’s critical that both organizations are looking at the same data and are measured similarly so each team, in their own way, is working in tandem toward the same goal: revenue. At the end of the day, ABM is key to sales acceleration with its ability to automate faster sales cycles, go more upstream, and really be able to focus on the types of businesses—from SMBs through to the enterprise—that are going to ultimately drive the most revenue growth. 


Q: How does ABM help sellers day-to-day and long-term?

A: Think about ABM in terms of how your short- and long-term goals are solving these issues. For example, in the near term ABM can help if you’re struggling with identifying accounts that are actually showing engagement and intent related to an offering that you sell. It can also help inform day-to-day insights into account prioritization, answering the common question: ‘which account do I reach out to now versus later?’. Start with identifying your ideal customer profile (ICP) and then apply it to your total addressable market (TAM) to generate a target account list (TAL). Once you have a set of accounts, it becomes a matter of scoring to understand which account you should be prioritizing first. From there, you can gain day-to-day insights into prioritization based on which accounts are engaging the most, answering the common question: ‘which account do I reach out to now versus later?’. 

As far as long-term impact of working the right accounts rather than just any lead, you’ll see better fit opportunities from marketing, higher engagement, shorter deal cycles, higher value contracts, and ultimately, happy quota hitters that bring recurring revenue to the business.


Q: Why is it so important for sales and marketing to be aligned around ABM programs? What benefits does it have for the accounts. 

A: ABM is about the overlap, not the handoff.

Think about this way: a successful ABM approach enables your marketing team to provide air cover and targeted programs as you (the sales team) are going outbound to target accounts. 

I’ll give you more perspective. When most organizations think about ABM, they think about it in terms of accounts exhibiting intent in their solution or showing engagement with their brand. The reality is that those accounts represent, on average, no more than 15 or 20% of the available market being chased. What happens when you go outside of those? How do you prioritize your SDRs efforts to make sure that they're reaching out to the accounts that have a higher propensity of replying to your messages, that will in turn lead to a higher number of appointments for your sales org? One option is to score target accounts so that the SDR team can reach out to the highest fit accounts first. In reality, those accounts are still cold, hence the air cover I mentioned earlier. 


Q: In terms of buying committees, how can revenue teams uncover buying groups and understand how to personalize for each individual?

A: A few examples come to mind:

  • By segmenting against organizations using specific tech (ex: Snowflake users);

  • By segmenting against the size of the prospects marketing team, (ex: companies downloading an SMB use case);

  • By segmenting against the maturity of the prospect’s ABM program (ex: companies downloading content on “getting started with AI”).

All of these examples provide actionable intel to help the SDR team craft a personalized outreach strategy. In the example of HubSpot, at RollWorks, we can talk about the benefits of our integration. In the example of small teams, we can share our Goverlan use case that showcases how a one-person marketing team can successfully run an ABM program.


Q: Why is it important to have full visibility into the outcomes of ABM programs? How can revenue teams use these insights to inform future campaigns?

A: First of all, like any program, you need to know what works and what doesn’t so that you can take the next best action and to prove the overall ROI of your strategy. This is especially true with multi-touch ABM since it takes such tight-knit collaboration with both marketing and sales. If marketing puts out a killer campaign but sellers can’t see which accounts are reacting when, they lose the chance for perfectly timed follow-up.  


Take digital campaigns for example. With tools like ad personalization and the A/B testing perspective, we learn which messages are resonating with which prospects. This type of account-level insight then has a trickle down effect across all marketing and outbound sales messaging. If we haven’t reached part of our audience with a key message, we optimize the message and give ourselves a second chance to engage with our audience. There’s a “rinse and repeat” approach.


Q: Does artificial intelligence and machine learning play a role in sales acceleration? Why and how?

A: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are key components of any ABM solution, simply because of the ability automation affords us to prioritize our outreach related to our TAL and provide us with timely intel. 

Within the RollWorks platform, as an example, our Account Spikes feature tells us how an account is engaging with us and when that engagement is meaningful by surfacing significant changes in behavior. Simply put, if someone is on our website each day checking out two pages each day, that’s normal behavior. If that normal behavior changes—let’s say now there are two people checking out two pages each day—our SDR team will automatically be notified to follow up.


Q: Alright, outside of all things strategy and ROI — what are the top ways marketers can help sellers progress and close accounts with ABM? Any winning plays to share?

A: One proven play is to prioritize high-fit, high-intent audiences. Take BetterCloud, for example. 

The marketing team wanted to align its marketers and sellers on top-named accounts and implement scalable ABM tactics to drive pipeline. Using intent data and insights from the sales team, the marketing ops and demand generation teams tiered their account lists and mapped out engagement channels based on how much automation versus personalization should be directed into each tier. Top-tier accounts got more 1:1 personalized touches and lower tiers received more traditional, automated demand gen plays.

In just one quarter, BetterCloud saw a 64% shift from “unaware” to “engaged” from their named accounts and netted 18 influenced opportunities. 

Ready to accelerate sales with ABM? Our team at RollWorks is ready to help. 


About the Author

Alysha Parker, Content Marketing Manager

Alysha is a Content Marketer at RollWorks

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