The original article was published on Huffington Post | Photo by Tim Gouw
"Account Based Everything" (ABE) may sound like the latest marketing buzzword to hit the thought-leadership circuit. But it's really a good way to view how B2B marketing, sales and customer retention processes are evolving with digital transformation, data-driven engagement, and customer experience as key drivers.
Sure, everybody who has a startup or book to sell has a buzzword to go with it. But ABE is the real deal, because it replaces eternal rounds of lead-chasing with cross-functional and cross-channel orchestration to target and engage the most desirable accounts; marketing qualified leads (MQLs) thinking is transitioning to a marketing qualified accounts (MQAs) mindset.
ABE: From Lead-Centric to Account-Centric Focus
Account Based Everything expands on the model of account-based marketing by adapting it to other crucial aspects of the sales and marketing process, including sales development and customer success.
With an account-based strategy, marketing and sales teams rely less on generating squishy demand and instead target accounts, identifying the key decision-makers and others who are in the mix, including end users, IT, legal, finance and management.
"Companies are moving away from the inbound model and realizing they need to reach out to target accounts – larger, more strategic deals," says Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio, the San Mateo, Calif., software company that is leading the pack on Account Based Everything innovation.
Miller knows something about inbound and outbound marketing strategies because, before he took the reins at Engagio – with its recent $22M in Series B funding – he was co-founder and CMO at Marketo, one of the leading marketing automation platforms.
Not the Same Old Fish Story
Most lead-generation efforts are the business equivalent of casting a wide net in the ocean and seeing what swims in, Miller says. With ABE, companies switch out the big net for spears they can use to seek out the right kinds of customers.
But, just moving to account-based marketing isn't enough to help companies land the business equivalent of a 1,000-pound blue marlin.
"Marketing by itself is insufficient to reach these target accounts," he says. "If you really want to connect with the right people at the right company, you need a human to reach out proactively – to call, to email, to do social media. Ideally, it should be all three."
That is Account Based Sales Development, which is just as important to the process as Account Based Marketing, even though it hasn't gotten the same attention.
Therein lies another challenge: coordinating Account Based Marketing with Account Based Sales Development to create the Account Based Everything model.
"You need a process of orchestrating outbound interactions that span across departments, channels and target buying personas," Miller says. "That's the process of 'Account Based Everything' and what we see as the future of B2B."
Key to ABE: The Playbook
Switching metaphors, ABE’s holistic approach uniting marketing and sales development is built around a series of plays like the plays that fill a football coach's playbook.
Each play identifies the participants, both within the company and at the target account, actions, outcomes and success measurements.
"Land and Expand" is one key play, the marketing equivalent of the power sweep in football or basketball's full-court pass. The play focuses first on new-customer acquisition before the sale and then switches to customer success and expansion post-sale.
That's where you see the benefit of having multiple relationships between the two companies. The account-centric connection won't fall apart if a key person leaves the organization.
Two Caveats About ABE
Although an ABE approach can help a company land bigger and more strategically important accounts, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach:
- It's a strategy – actually, a set of strategies – not a tactic. Graduating from traditional sales and marketing models takes a lot of thought and legwork. Having a data-driven platform that automates the process yet makes 1:1 personalization as easy as drag-and-drop message-building helps, but you need a new mindset to go with it.
- It isn't for all customer accounts. ABE is your model for the resource-intensive process of landing and managing the biggest fish. Smaller accounts won't necessarily deliver the same return on investment, so you would use less costly strategies to acquire and retain them.
Among the companies that have adopted Account Based Everything is GoodData, a software developer based in San Francisco and an Engagio customer.
"GoodData engages the market for our smart business applications offering with an Account Based Everything approach,” says Blaine Mathieu, chief marketing and product officer. "Our marketing and sales teams can target and penetrate new and existing accounts in a highly relevant and effective way."
If you want to learn more about ABE, download Engagio's 124-page guide, which walks you through everything from defining account based strategies to implementing it and measuring success. Follow us on Twitter @Creatorbase and please share these ideas and insights with your colleagues.