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ABX: Embedding ABM Strategy Across Your Org

Marketers and sales teams today are surely aware of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in theory, and likely even in practice. But few businesses have actually adopted it as broadly as they should to stay competitive in today’s B2B sales landscape.  

Even those who are implementing ABM may not be realizing the full potential of buyer journey personalization. Marketing is just one aspect of your customer’s experience. Building a holistic Account-Based Experience (ABX) ensures that your target accounts have a cohesive journey, tailored to their needs, no matter who and what they interact with across your brand and organization. 

If you’re tight on time, here are the key takeaways:

  • Going from ABM to ABX needs alignment across teams, and that can start with getting every function that interacts with customers tuned in to target account needs and journeys.
  • ABX requires a customer-centric communication ecosystem - where target accounts experience personalized, unified messaging from marketing to sales to support to account management. 
  • Getting to ABX is an iterative process that takes testing and patience. It’s not just a tactic, it’s a new way of working together, so start small and expand your successes quickly. 
  • You’ll need more data on your accounts, and better ways of connecting with them, so best practice ABX isn’t possible without the right tech stack.

Delivering on ABX requires alignment across teams

Building your ABX requires a clear path for sharing information internally across teams including marketing, sales, customer support, account management and even product development.  

Research from Marketo found that businesses that focus on sales and marketing alignment can generate 209% more value from content. The study also found that when sales and marketing do work together, they become 67% better at closing deals. 

Consider how much more effective your ABM strategy can be when you have similar alignment across functions! Everyone in your organization needs to look at your target accounts through the same lens.

A way to get started is to allow and encourage more functions beyond sales and demand gen to be contributors and consumers of data in your CRM platforms. Then there needs to be a cross-functional plan for how teams update each other and regularly communicate about the status and needs of target accounts. For example, “sales can be notified directly in the CRM system when a potential customer has downloaded a certain asset, attended a webinar, or reaches a specific score based on their activities.” (Adobe)

When every function knows who your target accounts are, how and where to engage them across their journey, and how you’re providing those accounts with value once they become customers, the impact will be felt in the growing size of your pipeline.

ABX comes to life through a customer-centric communication ecosystem

In Episode 28 of the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, Emburse CMO Grant Johnson explained his philosophy that the different functions should work in an integrated, holistic way with the customer at the center. This synchronization is an investment in future revenue growth –– a theory that fits well with an ABX approach. 

“The best practices and strategies start with a customer focus,” shared Grant. “If we understand the pain points, the buyer personas, and we align our content and our communications to the buyer's journey, we're more likely to engage successfully, create opportunities, nurture and progress those opportunities, and win that business.”

All your customer communication is part of an ecosystem. Marketing often provides the first touchpoint, and when your target accounts become leads, sales is next. Once leads convert and become customers, the communication they receive directly from customer service teams and account managers, as well as from user portals and training content, is an equally essential part of end-to-end ABX. Insights that support and account teams have should circle back to marketing, to continue to drive effective ABM through extremely relevant content and campaigns.   

Every point of contact needs to match up and focus on the collective goal of moving buyers through the sales funnel faster and to keep customers in the post-sales “loyalty loop” of new purchases and continued satisfaction.

ABX is the mindset, personalization is the motto 

If you really want your VIP prospects to feel like you understand them, you have to get personal. According to Weidert, 76% of buyers say there is a lack of personal attention and customization in their buying experience.

Buyers are spending more time than ever on research before interacting with a sales rep. TrustRadius found that the average B2B tech buyer today consults 6.9 information sources before making a purchase, and 33% spend more time researching products now than before Covid. 

Your leads are looking for content that speaks to their aspirations and pain points. If they feel you might have something to offer that is tailored to them, a prospect will be more receptive to interacting with your content, and from there, your sales team. 

Enabling personalization across the ecosystem of a buyer’s experience can sound daunting. We’ve found that with ABM platforms like 6sense and Demandbase, we can effectively capture and process the data we need to orchestrate target account engagement. You can scale up your ability, with the right piece in your tech stack, to deliver the right message at the right time across every channel, based on real-time account data.  

Personalization as a motto, from top of funnel marketing to sales to customer success to account management, is the way to a winning ABX strategy. 

ABX is an iterative process - test and measure before expanding

When starting with an ABM strategy, teams often want to set instant benchmarks, and get quick results. But starting anything new can be a challenge, so expectations need to be realistic. This will especially be true as you move into ABX and require more coordination between functions. 

In your first attempts, messaging may be off, prospects may not turn into leads, and campaign spend may seem wasted. Some team members (especially those who have been successful in sales in the past) might use these small stumbles as a reason to go back to their tried and true way of doing things. 

The problem is, you can’t go back. Personalization, self-service and operating on the customer’s terms should be default mode now. If you abandon your ABM/ABX efforts prematurely, you’ll certainly lose customers to competitors who are in it for the long haul. 

As Grant Johnson of Emburse also discussed on his episode of the DGV podcast, his team tried piloting programs with just four salespeople instead of the whole team to reduce the number of variables. By starting small, the Emburse team found strategies for success they could expand on.

So remember, you need to leave some room for missteps, as long as you can learn from your mistakes. An agreed willingness to “fail faster” will not only improve your ABM strategy, the process of learning together can support team building and alignment.

All your various departments also need to agree on goals, metrics for measuring success, and processes for improvement in the future. With that structure in place you can all focus on the same goal. 

You need the right tech stack to work ABX magic

We need to quote Grant Johnson just one more time. “Many martech companies have made promises for ABM that are hard for them to keep.” There are a lot of B2B marketing leaders out there who feel the same way.  

We know that real-time data informing you of your target accounts’ needs and interests across the buyer journey is worth its weight in gold. And everyone is familiar with the trickiness in ensuring seamless handover of prospects from marketing to sales. Then you need your account and customer support teams to feed information from customer dialogues back to the marketing team.

It shouldn’t be a burden to work this way, in fact, an ABX-oriented organization should be able to work faster and get better results. You just need the right tech stack. 

With platforms like 6sense and Demandbase, you can understand what your target accounts are up to outside of your own channels, ie, in their discovery phase. This can set the stage for ABM campaigns that drive them to your website. Once there, ideally you have your website designed to serve tailored landing pages to each account. 

Then, conversational marketing and sales platforms like Qualified, which is built on Salesforce, can help you understand who is visiting your website, how they are engaging with your content, and who is demonstrating buying intent. From there you can instantly engage in personalized conversations with your target accounts through live chat or chatbots.

Sure, to really implement ABX, you’ll need some organizational culture tweaks. Tech can’t solve everything. But when teams understand how much more pipeline and revenue comes from this strategy, they’ll know that this is the necessary path forward.

Conclusion - ABX teamwork makes the dream work

With ABX, cross-functional alignment on target accounts along with cohesive and personalized messaging at every touchpoint will support more effective sales dialogues and shorter sales cycles. It will take time and testing to implement, but will also lead to happier customers down the line. 

Accounts are the lifeblood of an organization. When each function works in harmony to support the customer journey, you’ll see greater lifetime value for your accounts and ultimately, more revenue.

To learn more about how marketing and sales can partner together and deliver a seamless target account experience and drive more conversions, check out our Conversational ABM Playbook.

Posted on
March 3, 2021
by
Corinne Pearce

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