Account-based marketing strategies offer the promise of driving higher levels of engagement with prospects and customers by focusing on their needs, preferences, behaviors and motivations. This type of personalized approach can help companies better engage potential clients, increase sales opportunities and foster customer loyalty.

What follows are five lessons learned from deploying processes and technology over hundreds of experiences in account- and lead-based marketing environments which were validated by others in the industry. These lessons include: 1) defining success 2) defining your process 3) being mindful of analytics 4) maximizing retention, cross sell, and upsell opportunities 5) considering your access to account-based talent.

1. Define ABM Success

Start with the end in mind and then work backward. Jim Somers, vice president of marketing for CipherHealth, agrees. He puts himself in the shoes of the customer, saying, “Since we are helping many of the nation’s leading healthcare providers navigate through the impacts of COVID-19 on their patients, staff and community, we have a vision to target those providers with similar characteristics and challenges as the ones we have already been helping through the crisis. We ask questions of ourselves, like: ‘How has the provider been impacted by the loss of revenue, impact on their frontline workers, or certain socio-economic factors in their communities?’ All of these, and many other inputs, play into how we decide on who to reach out to and engage with. The technology follows the strategy."

Related Article: How to Sell Your CFO on an Account-Based Strategy Investment

2. Define Your Process

Companies consistently underestimate the need to define roles, responsibilities and an execution plan once accounts are defined as targets. Consider the importance of a well-defined and documented process as you contemplate changing how people do their day to day jobs. In our experiences across multiple organizations, an account-based strategy requires newer responsibilities of sales, marketing and the SDR/BDR function. The introduction of technology also creates the potential for a dramatic impact on how people work in systems and the supporting process within the organization. Ideally, identify the process ahead of the technology acquisition process and start your change management accordingly. 

3. Be Mindful of ABM Analytics Challenges

Have a vision for how your data will be reported on and what questions you want answered in a dashboard. At the same time, realize how starting an account-based initiative affects others in your organization.

Hillary Carpio of Snowflake advises taking a close look at metrics as they relate to ABM, saying, “not everyone is willing to step aside from the metrics that they hold so close to themselves and measure themselves on and have gotten promoted on in the past (to accommodate ABM)." In addition to Carpio's experiences, we’ve experienced the need to ‘unify’ measurement across legacy lead-based systems, partner-sourced leads, as well as account-based metrics in one sales and marketing funnel to maximize effectiveness. Gone are the days of multiple funnels that take too long for an executive to digest.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: Account-Based Strategies Go Nowhere Without Cross-Functional Collaboration

4. Evaluate Retention and Upsell Opportunities

In our experience, best in class companies have the highest net retention dollars with their clients. Yet in spite of this, marketers still forget about the post-sale side of the business. In speaking with Brian Kardon who heads the revenue and marketing functions at InVision, a big part of his account-based motion is renewals and upsells. "One little trick that I do is, if there are accounts at risk, I can send a message in an app like a survey to an account. I tell them please confirm your need for InVision by selecting ‘yes, I want to retain my license’, or ‘No, I will not need my license’. We take that poll to the champion and then we say 90% of your current users need their license. We're always identifying other divisions, other business units that might be likely buyers for us. So I spent a lot of time with our installed base, expanding where we are, we're trying to retain that business."

5. Consider Account-Based Talent Needs

The challenge with new initiatives is they require time from teams who are already at capacity or teams who are not yet fully skilled in the latest acount-based approaches and technologies. In situations like these, a hybrid approach works best for companies. Find an outsourced partner that has experienced industry best practices and is capable in the account based areas that can serve to augment an existing team.

Account-based go to market motions span many approaches: One to one, one to few, and one to many. There is also a convergence of lead-based approaches and account based approaches around the one to many approach. Despite that convergence, account-based lessons are plentiful as it is challenging to implement a new go to market motion, especially with so many of us now working remotely. Change is never easy for companies, but those that do it well stand to grow the fastest, especially those that continuously improve in these revenue acquisition and retention areas during these challenging times.

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