April 12, 2021
April 12, 2021
Due to COVID, B2B organizations are looking more closely at their customer relationships. The rise of the Account-Based Experience concept has coincided with changing customer behaviors and priorities. The expectations we have of organizations have grown; we want more and we want it now.
This post covers everything a small business needs to know about starting out in ABX, from establishing a team to investments and strategies. It covers recommended setup steps based on whether or not you’re already applying an ABM business approach.
You’re probably already familiar with Account-Based Marketing and its focus on valuable accounts. So what is ABX as opposed to ABM? ABX is an offshoot of ABM which makes use of the best tool out there: care.
Traditionally, ABM is about discovering and catering to as many valuable accounts as possible. ABX focuses on quality over quantity. The main goal of ABX is customer satisfaction.
Ideally, satisfaction with product experience doubles back to the purchasing section of the funnel, creating a loop of continued satisfaction and repeated business.
In ABX, an improved buyer experience is the number one goal. It’s very simple — when your customers associate a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to continue business with you.
What are some of the benefits of providing a great experience to your accounts?
An ABX strategy can be applied by any organization of any size. Essentially, ABX is for anyone who wants to create a superior brand.
Small businesses should aim to apply an ABX strategy from the get go rather than retroactively. The latter can result in poor brand image that requires extra work to build back customer trust. Start early to build brand awareness and credibility.
"ABM/ABX isn’t about company size. If there is more than one person in the organization you need to influence to get the deal"
- Matt Heinz
President and CEO, Heinz Marketing
Achieving ABX for your business is very doable with the right team and tools behind it.
Before you get started setting up ABX strategies, there are a few things you need to prepare to ensure a flawless start. Here’s an outline of technologies, strategies, and resource investments to consider:
1. Get your team together
2. Develop your strategy:
3. Invest in resources:
Each of these preparation steps are vital to establishing the infrastructure you need to provide optimal experiences for your customers.
Now that you’ve set up a framework for your ABX strategy, here is an in-depth, step-by-step process for setting up ABX at a small business.
Here are some team players you should involve to ensure you meet your objectives:
These people are ABX/ABM strategy heroes that offer solid support and guidance for all departments.
Marketers are in charge of driving your ABX strategy. They can also manage collaboration and reporting on strategy success.
The RevOps department is an amalgamation of sales and marketing that’s able to identify trends and report on progress. They’re also in a good position to examine existing databases and choose ideal accounts to focus on.
Account Executive Leader
This role is responsible for aligning the buyer strategy and creating ABM service-level agreements to uphold best practices.
Sales Development Leader
SDLs are heads of account research. It is their duty to provide feedback for accounts and manage account recalibration when necessary.
Service leaders support buyers along their journeys, searching for new opportunities to increase business such as cross or upselling with existing clients.
These people monitor target accounts and ensure retention and account prioritization.
Now that you’ve got your team onboard, it’s time to look at your strategy outlines and refine them with input from all team members. Once your goals are aligned it’s time to activate your strategy.
Remember for accounts it’s all about quality, not quantity. Providing the ultimate customer experience is always paramount.
One important factor in helping align your teams and goals is determining chosen language. There’s nothing more embarrassing than not having everyone on the same page when it comes to terminology.
Structure team alignment around transparency, especially for sales and marketing. Define each role inside both departments to allow for improvement on customer engagement.
Make sure your teams have a proper understanding of desired results by managing expectations. It’s important to remember that money shouldn’t be the sole objective. Help your teams by developing a common understanding of the impact of your net promoter score, customer lifetime value, and product penetration. These factors are much more important than short-term revenue generation.
Acquire a firm grasp of the marketing funnel to strategize varying methods for handling customers at different places in the journey. Set up your strategy to retrieve the different types of data needed to net new customers. Have your team decide upon a point system for lead scoring to acquire the accounts you want.
Whatever strategies you decide on, providing the best possible customer experience returns the best results. Short term, this translates into brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Long term, it becomes brand loyalty and increased revenue through repeated business.
Purchase the right kind of 3rd-party data to enrich leads and accounts. Set up your database orchestration software to properly manage incoming leads to generate the accurate data and provide better experiences for accounts.
By having thorough and unparalleled insights into your customers, you’re able to approach and guide them in ways the competition can’t. This deep connection increases brand trust and gradually evolves the relationship into something lasting.
Before getting your ABX off the ground, gain a true understanding of your total addressable market to make informed decisions determined by your strategy. Do this by becoming more prolific within your target market.
Don’t forget to include supportive data to meet your experience goals and requirements. For example, when leveraging 3rd-party data be sure to include firmographic factors such as:
Use this data to determine your ideal customer profiles. Consider your ICP and company goals to focus on valued leads within target accounts to provide with excellent experiences. Once you have your target accounts, have your team choose a specific angle to focus on. Account mapping can help in this stage to source qualified accounts and leads.
To avoid overburdening your sales teams, try at first to limit the number of excess accounts. Leverage lead scoring to determine which accounts need to be prioritized and followed up on. The scoring of your leads should have already been determined, but should be based on:
Below is an example of lead scoring:
It’s important to update lead scoring as your customer base expands, your company grows, or goals shift.
Your ABX strategy should involve a continuous stream of marketing content. While producing this content, it’s important to closely follow the rules established by your strategy.
Sales should conduct research simultaneously with their customer outreach. Make notes on what content best targets specific clients. Familiarize yourself with their company structure and decision making processes. Discover what content you could develop to target their decision makers. Leverage your CRM and other sources to enrich your data to help with your content targeting.
Your content should be strong, flawless, and be able to bypass the competition. Above all it should be engaging, relevant and personalized to the point where customers feel the content is tailored specifically for them. Focus on the current challenges your customers are currently experiencing and address how your product can solve them. If possible, try to even focus different content for different roles within the same account.
Be sure to use relevant language to that of your customer. Find out the terminologies they use and reuse them in your own content. Try to use language that can also increase your SEO and be palatable when shared around the internet.
Select content channels used by your customer and begin designing your campaign. Focus on compelling content early in your company’s game and throughout.
Engage your customer with omni-channel content for ultimate personalized experiences. As outlined in your strategy, your content should evolve with your customer depending where they sit on the marketing funnel. As your customer grows so too should the content:
Be consistent. If successful your content can increase outreach, your customer base, and revenue.
With content ready, next you need to understand how best to get it to your customers. Through your research you should have discovered when, where, and how your stakeholders interact and consume content. Decipher the most tactical way to make your content impactful with the desired result for your target audience. Map your campaign strategies to fit your buyers journey across multiple channels for the greatest effect.
Be sure not to double up on any marketing material for leads or accounts, and don’t contradict yourself. Software can help keep track of where your customers are, previous touch points you’ve made, etc. Make sure you’ve kept your organization transparent so that your messaging is coordinated to completely avoid embarrassing errors. Be consistent but not repetitive.
Get underway with your messaging and become a thought leader in your field. Clever execution of great content nets you new clients through increased brand awareness.
The most important step of your whole ABX strategy is the ability to measure, evaluate, and optimize. Create frameworks to make feedback loops between your sales and marketing teams possible. It’s important for sales and marketing to understand how the account experience delivers company value. You need to measure the success of each tactic you’ve applied to your ABX strategy.
Here are some indicators to help you see if your tactics are successful:
Follow up these indicators with a couple of questions:
The goal of ABX is to drive deeper connections with targeted accounts as outlined in your goals and strategies; moving customers along the marketing funnel from prospective buyers ideally to product advocates.
Although sales takes time your goals should focus on the long term. It’s important to have procedures in place to measure all your metrics for the entirety of their processes. Metrics like awareness and engagement can help you measure your return on investments.
Awareness: number of website visitors, social media tags or shares, received emails, etc.
Engagement: return of website visitors, time length on website, completed website actions, content downloads, videos watched, email responses, email signups, demos
Relationships: number of decision makers engaged, meetings arranged, proposals submitted, trial signups
A successful ABX strategy is made up of 3 core principles:
A successful ABX strategy requires comprehensive cross-department collaboration. Sales, marketing, intent, or 3rd party data is used to create account lists and ideal customer profiles to support the company strategy.
Coordinating marketing campaigns and personalized advertising to provide unique customer experiences is crucial for maintaining business objectives. Coordination ensures consistency for customers and transparency for teams.
Sales can continue with customers exactly where they were left by marketing and have a better understanding of the relationship. The experience is appreciated and embarrassing errors are avoided.
The experience a customer has with an organization shouldn’t pause. Companies should provide a consistent and continuous experience, being versatile and flexible adapting to the customers needs.
A data orchestration platform helps align teams, business goals, and coordinate your operations so that you can move customers from being brand aware to brand advocates.
In the age of COVID our customers expect us to provide better experiences and personalization. Customers are inundated by choice and products alone no longer set you apart, you must provide a better experience than the competition. To sell at the account level you must be fully engaged with your customer and speak to them directly.
ABX is an achievable and scalable branch of your account based marketing solutions. It keeps you in-touch with your customers. This personal relationship builds a positive feed-back loop and as we’ve looked at, is quite easy to implement.
ABX provides sales and marketing the ability to provide unrivalled unique experiences through consistent, personalized, and relevant messaging. ABX is about focusing on the entire customer journey, creating a lifelong business partnership. If you apply your ABX strategies correctly you may never lose a client.
Start small and scale your business strategies and operations as your company grows. Don’t overwhelm your teams. Upgrade your tactics and team members if required. Keep clients at a manageable level and most importantly, focus on the experience.
A successful ABX strategy can lead directly to increased sales, conversions and ROIs. Grow your customer base and make them fundamentally happier.