We’ve all heard how good account-based marketing (ABM) can be for your B2B business, but did you know it’s also great for your customers? It’s not often revenue goals and customer needs align as well as they do with account-centric strategies.
Here are the four ways ABM done well is as much a win for your customers as it is for your growth targets:
The foundation of good account-based anything is data and insights about customers. When companies shift go-to-market models to focus on a defined universe of accounts, they naturally invest more in knowing those accounts. There are two types of listening when it comes to ABM – active and passive.
Active listening is the old-fashioned kind i.e. having a conversation and really being in the moment to take in what a customer is saying. Active listening happens everywhere: sales calls, customer support calls, account manager check ins, executive business reviews, events and more.
While it can be hard to capture every note in the moment, technology makes it easier than ever to capture, store and act on customer knowledge.
An example is using recording tools (ask permission of course) that also transcribe conversations. More companies are also using tools that identify any new contacts in email and calendars as well as timing of interactions from calendars so everyone working on the account knows what happened and who was involved.
The second type is passive listening, which is paying attention to all the signals customers send. This includes pre- and post-sale signals like intent data for online activity, monitoring account news, tracking contact’s social media activity and marketing and sales engagement.
These insights are ABM gold because they’re breadcrumbs that lead you to what your customers care about. The bonus is also improving customer experience by anticipating needs. Done right, passive listening is less like creepy eavesdropping and more like a friend saying “you read my mind” when you show up with a coffee on a day when they need that 3 pm boost.
What type of listening do most ABM teams miss? Insights from customer surveys or other customer feedback, as well as paying attention to customer success and support calls are critical to having a complete view of the customer.
Post-sale listening is essential for marketing and sales to avoid seeming tone deaf to a customer’s current experience. For example, reaching out to promote a new product when the current one isn’t working could harm your relationship and your brand in ways that are hard to repair.
When we listen, we also learn. When sales and marketing learn what’s important to prospects and customers, they do a better job of tuning interactions to those needs. More relevant interactions make it faster and easier for buyers to make a decision and more meaningful for customers to engage with the revenue team post-sale.
How does this work? One example is making account or customer success manager (CSM) check-ins more relevant. Many teams set up regular calls with customer contacts that start with, “So tell me what’s top-of-mind for you.”
Customers lose interest in these calls because they aren’t relevant, and may feel they leave calls having given more than they gained. Over time, sellers are left without visibility into new needs, competitive threats or even positive outcomes the client is seeing.
What if instead a rep goes into a call with all those listening insights, and is ready to share how that stakeholder’s team is using the product, or how other customers are solving similar challenges to what client is struggling with? That’s a meeting worth joining every time.
Why do we continue to hear about wasted content? A big issue is subject matter that doesn’t speak to the interests of target accounts. Sales doesn’t use it and the customers don’t respond to it. Moving to an account-based focus can help fix this.
Content misses the mark when we focus on topics that are too broad, too product-centric or use language that’s filled with jargon. Sometimes thought leadership is too high level to be actionable. In an account-based model, we create less content but we focus on the needs of our ideal customer profiles (ICP) to fine-tune messages and content.
An example is using industry insights to update existing content assets. Many companies take an industry-based approach to initial account segmentation. This works well in ABM because what’s happening in an industry can be a shortcut to addressing customer interest areas.
If most companies in an industry have to manage a specific change, chances are your target account does, too. Many companies already have some form of buyer personas in place. When you combine persona needs with industry trends and learnings from customer listening, you have a treasure trove for adapting existing content to align with your accounts’ interests.
Customer retention and churn reduction have become top business objectives for many companies. Most revenue growth goals include a significant share coming from existing customers and attainment of retention goals. Perhaps the most valuable outcome for customers when companies move to ABM is a focus on investing in customer experience to reach those retention and expansion goals.
When companies adopt an account-centric go-to-market focus, a large share of target accounts are likely to be existing customers. That means keeping and growing those customers has to become a big part of marketing’s charter.
If every interaction from marketing is about trying to sell something, ABM teams are missing the opportunity to deliver a better experience and support retention and growth goals. Online engagement, content, events, advocacy and other customer programs are powerful because they provide the multi-channel experience customers expect today.
Shifting attention to retention and giving marketing permission to go beyond just sourcing leads is a refreshing change for customers that will stand out in the market and become a value driver for the business. It’s the ultimate win-win scenario.
Megan Heuer, Vice President, Marketing at Engagio is a respected thought leader who most recently led the analyst team at SiriusDecisions and founded their Account Based Marketing practice. Throughout her career, she has held roles with marketing and customer experience innovators including the Peppers and Rogers Group, Satmetrix and Gartner. Megan now heads up marketing at Engagio, the leading account-based engagement platform provider, where she is helping them continue to deliver value to their customers and enhance their growth.
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