Dedicating marketers to a company’s key accounts—Account Based Marketing (ABM)—is not a new practice, but it is one that is difficult to do well and particularly challenging to effectively deliver at scale. ABM is an increasingly important part of the shift in many companies to building a customer experience strategy and our experience shows that this can bring early wins and insight to the customer experience team.
Account Based Marketing is Critical for B2B Businesses
Many companies, but B2B businesses in particular, have a high concentration of revenue in a very small number of client accounts – in our research we have found that for many businesses 20% of clients account for 80% of the revenue. This significant revenue concentration mandates active nurturing of each major client account on an ongoing basis, because losing one account has significant repercussions. At the same time, that 20% represents the lowest cost and highest probability for growing new revenue from any source. Cultivating major client accounts brings a big payoff either way.
What’s more, by investing in that 20% and creating a clear set of objectives and programs for that client group, you can begin the journey of shifting the mindset of your company from product-centric to client-centric. In our work with a financial services company, we have found that by considering an ABM strategy they have forced their executive teams to re-orient their focus and therefore that of their direct reports to the client experience and needs rather than their historical product-driven view.
- Identify the most strategic client accounts. Avoid your instincts to add more and more accounts. Start small and perfect the approach and overcome the internal questions and pushback first. Working with a few forward-looking client teams can enhance your momentum. Once you have some success expand to the next level.
- Align your organization. Broader enterprise alignment is important for a successful launch and ongoing sustainability of an ABM strategy. This requires senior executive buy-in and also leadership for the program to ensure that decisions do not get bottlenecked and the program’s success and challenges are reported and dealt with in a timely manner.
- Start small and scale. Faced with the prospect of creating a year’s worth of programs and engagements can be a daunting task, but in most cases you already have the building blocks in place. With some insight into the needs of your key client accounts, you can quickly tailor the programs to meet the needs of your individual clients. This also helps with buy-in since you are not reinventing everything at once. Begin with a small group of accounts and scale from there.
- Co-create with clients and sellers. The most effective ABM programs are co-created with clients and sellers. By providing your sellers with a series of account planning tools that have been vetted with clients you can help them to more effectively customize an annual program with their clients. The programs that gain the most utility are those that are tailored to integrate with the strategies of each client.