Erik Kostelnik, CEO and co-founder of Postal, was recently a guest on the Sales Samurai podcast with Sam Capra.
He spoke about Postal’s proven account-based marketing (ABM) strategy and how the company’s tactics have resulted in a surge in conversions. Learn some key takeaways from Erik’s conversation with Sam, and listen to the full episode to learn more about Erik’s background, the history of Postal, and more insights into ABM strategy.
What is ABM?
Erik views ABM as an assigned account strategy, which is what the method was called before the term ABM gained popularity. Typically, companies assign accounts to both sales reps and marketing staff. Then, the team establishes the ideal customer profile (ICP), defines personas, and creates messaging around this data. Erik describes ABM as the “…connector of the two entities: sales and marketing. Because both are so involved in this, technology now gives you the ability to have this omnichannel approach which really is the backbone of ABM.”
Consider: Are you using the data that you have from marketing and the interactions that companies are making in assigned accounts? Are you creating triggers in the sales org based on indications of interest, sales, and lead scores?
Companies like HubSpot, Outreach, SalesLoft, and Marketo have figured out how to connect all these elements together, Erik explains, and new technology has allowed ABM to truly scale in a way that wasn’t possible before. “Now, with Postal interjecting these points of offline engagement into this cycle of omnichannel, it’s increasing the overall ROI on it—20% increase for companies that use offline in this omnichannel approach.”
Personalization and Alignment
“Generalization doesn’t work anymore,” Erik argues. There was a time when automating thousands of messages paid off because automation wasn’t yet widespread, but “everybody has that playbook now,” he explains. Businesses need to consider how they can create a “personalization track that actually takes out what you know about these personas and then puts them in the right track to ultimately have them have a better experience.”
Product is another aspect that cannot be overlooked in the omnichannel approach. “How is the product aligned to the way that you’re selling?” Erik prompts. For example, the days of not offering a trial to your product are done. People want to have a buying experience and see what they’re getting into. “You do have to have your marketing, sales, and product all aligned to ensure that this personalization and automation does work at scale,” Erik emphasizes.
Postal’s ABM Strategy
Postal’s ABM strategy is composed of an online marketing automation system (HubSpot) and an offline marketing automation platform (Postal itself), which are aligned with a sales engagement platform (Outreach). In the middle of this triangle lies the CRM platform (Salesforce). Erik predicts that in the future these will all “collapse into one system,” but for now, this multiplatform approach creates connections that allow the strategy to scale effectively.
For example, Erik explains, Postal starts off many outbound efforts with handwritten notes, which progress into emails, then a cycle of phone calls, LinkedIn, and other interactions. Meanwhile, they are also interjecting different experiences through the Postal platform depending on the size of the customer.
“At the end of the day,” Erik summarizes, “we’re trying to increase conversions. That’s it. Increase the conversion of your overall funnel. And those that are adopting it have done well with it.”
What’s one thing that could take this whole system down? Bad records. “Data integrity for your CSM is number one,” Erik asserts. He also says that when it comes to metrics, “if you don’t have a data nerd in your marketing department, you need one.” They will be the ones to notice what’s working and what’s not. With data, you’ve also got to make sure that you lead score correctly, Erik urges, and ensure that those scores get to your reps and that your reps know when to hit hard.
How to Get Started
Sales reps don’t need technology to get their feet wet with ABM, Erik says. Start by focusing on your flow (e.g. email, phone, LinkedIn, e-gifts) and then testing different models and cadences. Understand how your path is performing, have a firm grasp of your cohort, and calculate your conversion rates—all things you can do manually.
After these manual experiments, you’ll want to ask yourself, “How can I actually build technology to help me manage this more effectively?” Then, start looking at platforms like Postal to help scale your efforts. Marketing automation is a whole other beast, Erik says, and you will indeed need a system if you’re doing things like testing landing pages — but for sales reps, you’ll be able to see how an ABM approach can work without technology.
Results with ABM & Incentive Marketing
With Postal’s customer Lessonly, for example, “Forty percent of the leads that are sent with a Postal incentive—whether it be a direct incentive for one of the reps or some offering built into their marketing automation— if Postal touches it, 40% convert into pipeline.”
Forty percent is “an extremely crazy number,” Erik says, but it’s not surprising, because you’re differentiating yourself from your competitors. This incentive marketing, which he prefers to the term gifting, incentivizes people to take an action.
“I’m not saying every single lead that you are going to send a gift card offering to is going to accept a meeting from you,” Erik clarifies, “but I will tell you people are incentivized by something, by something that they can touch or spend or whatever else. They are incentivized by that.” He goes on to explain that although the technology is new, the concept of gifting or incentivizing is not — how many fancy dinners or golf games have been used to close a deal over the course of history?
Postal has found that by adding an offline touchpoint to customers’ omnichannel ABM strategy, conversions increase by 20%. “Digital is overloaded and creating diminishing returns,” Erik explains, “so you have to move into the offline in order to have equal or better results than you had.”