The Account-Based Everything Framework
TOPO launched its Demand Generation Practice with a mandate to help companies adopt account-based go-to-market strategies. A year later, the account-based movement dominates the B2B sales and marketing landscape. During this time, the TOPO Analyst team has identified two major trends that dictate whether companies will succeed or fail with their account-based efforts.
First, organizations that struggle with account-based programs tend to lack cross-functional alignment across marketing, sales, sales dev, and customer success. Second and conversely, effective account-based programs are not siloed in a particular organization. There’s an organization-wide commitment to mobilize efforts against a key set of target accounts. As a result, the TOPO Analyst team created a new category – Account-Based Everything (ABE) – that’s designed to help companies understand the alignment and commitment required to succeed with an account-based go-to-market strategy.
Intro to Account-Based Everything
Account-Based Everything is the coordination of personalized marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success efforts to drive engagement with, and conversion of, a targeted set of accounts. The principal focus is on driving the full-lifecycle revenue chain from marketing through sales and customer success/account management. As a by-product, account-based alignment extends across the entire organization, including finance, product development, engineering, and the executive team. That is Account-Based Everything.
In this post, we will explore:
- The factors contributing to the rise of the account-based movement, and;
- TOPO’s framework for Account-Based Everything, including detailed descriptions of 8 ABE categories and 77 unique elements.
The Rise of the Account-Based Movement
As mentioned in the introduction, the account-based movement is in full-swing today. And because the category is en vogue, it’s important to note that account-based methods are not new. In fact, account-based campaigns, known historically as integrated marketing campaigns, have existed for years. Target account selling has been around since salespeople started selling to big businesses. However, beginning in the early 2000s, the digital marketing revolution (e.g., Google AdWords, marketing automation, etc.) shifted B2B marketing focus to industrial-strength demand generation engines capable of delivering massive numbers of leads at scale. Now the pendulum is swinging back to account-based methods. There are three major drivers behind this shift:
1. Improved Economics
Advanced sales and marketing organizations have realized that specific types of accounts drive the most compelling CAC and LTV. The most common examples of this has been the move up-market into the enterprise and/or targeting specific vertical markets. For example, one TOPO client had identified 3 verticals that made up 80% of the customer install base. Customers in these 3 segments outperformed all customers in key indicators like close rate, ACV and churn. However, of the 6000+ leads per month delivered by marketing, only 5% (300) fell within these key verticals. And of the 25 meetings/month generated by sales development reps, only 3-4 were with companies in these key industries.
To address these problems, this company re-organized toward Account-Based Everything. They began by focusing sales development efforts on key verticals and improved from 4 to 25 meetings per month in the target. Demand generation also became more focused; delivering far fewer leads overall, while yielding 4X the previous number of leads in the key verticals.
2. Market Dynamics
Over the last 10 years scalable, scalable revenue growth has been driven by inbound volume and velocity models. For many companies, however, their inbound, volume and velocity models have peaked and they must now pursue targeted, account-based models to drive growth. At a certain point, marketing just can’t increase inbound lead volume growth rates. At this point, these companies must focus their efforts on new markets (commonly upmarket). Volume and velocity models cannot feed these new markets and, as a result, they have to move to an account-based model.
3. Proven Account-Based Results
The modern version of the account-based movement is still young, but early adopters are reporting that programs are yielding impressive results particularly with respect to deal-size metrics such as ACV and LTV. For example, best-in-class account-based programs yield a 75% increase in ACV and a 150% increase in LTV via account-based upsell campaigns.
5 Defining Attributes of Account-Based Everything
Account-Based Everything (ABE) is the coordination of personalized marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success efforts to drive engagement with, and conversion of, a targeted set of accounts. ABE is defined by five attributes:
- Targeted, high-value accounts – Organizations align to a defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and focus all efforts across the organizations against the accounts in the ICP. For example, an emerging Ad Tech company has built their entire revenue strategy around landing and expanding the world’s 50 largest consumer advertisers.
- Data and intelligence-driven programs / campaigns — Data and intelligence are the lifeblood of account-based programs. It starts with having complete data on the key target accounts. Account intelligence shared across multiple organizations informs account personalization.
- Orchestration across marketing, sales development, sales, and customer support — Organizations run multi-channel, multi-touch, multi-organization set campaigns to drive initial customer acquisition and ultimately, upsell/cross-sell revenue.
- Valuable and personalized buyer experiences — No one argues that personalized buyer experiences are more likely to convert. However, in the volume and velocity model, the incentive to personalize is non-existent and as a result, the majority of touches across marketing and sales are templatized. The mass volume of leads allows for low conversion rates. In Account-Based Everything, the number of accounts is more constrained and requires that vendors deliver relevant, personalized campaigns to those buyers.
- Coordinated, high frequency / effort outreach — The entire organization is committed to continue the high touch, high frequency campaigns toward the target accounts over time until they become a customer. In a volume and velocity model, organizations look at activities in bulk (how many people attended our webinar). In Account-Based Everything, organizations plan for, and monitor, the activities per target account. For example, “Over the course of the next twelve months, we will run quarterly multi-touch campaigns into AT&T against 45 identified stakeholders.”
Account-Based Everything Framework
TOPO’s Account-Based Everything framework gives practitioners a detailed review of winning strategies and tactics in the development of account-based marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success programs. The following sections contain detailed descriptions of the categories and elements in the framework.
In volume-and-velocity marketing, programs are executed against market segments where the company’s products have been shown, (or are expected) to be in demand. The focus is on attracting a sufficient number of buyers and influencers within these markets to fill the company’s demand generation funnel. In ABE, the focus is on engaging specific, named accounts to generate leads, pipeline and revenue. The process starts with defining the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), the common attributes of customers who best match the company’s revenue and business objectives. The ICP is the basis for the target account list, which informs where marketing campaigns will be directed, who sales development will call, and where sales should focus their time. The ICP defines the attributes of the accounts that the company wants to attract, retain and grow. Buyer Personas define the attributes of people within those accounts. Identifying the ICP criteria drives target account list creation and other key decisions throughout program execution, including go-to-market strategy, media planning, hiring, messaging, plays, and more. Involving key internal, customer-facing stakeholders at this stage produces a more accurate target list and supports stronger organizational alignment.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Identify the common attributes of accounts where the company has found success attracting, engaging, closing, and retaining business. Create the ICP from three data sets:
- Qualitative input (e.g., sales team feedback)
- Internal data (e.g., historical closed-won data by account type, account-level profitability, customer satisfaction)
- External data (e.g., predictive data/analytics)
Using these inputs to define ICP creates early alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success. If these groups hold different ICP definitions, these differences must be resolved immediately as the ICP guides all further aspects of the ABE program.
Within the target accounts that match the ICP, it’s imperative to identify the key common stakeholder types and create composites for each. The composites describe the buyer’s “day in the life”, key challenges, career goals, role in the decision process, and other buying motivations. This exercise also ensures that the resulting list provides adequate coverage of the target accounts as marketing, SDRs, sales reps, and customer success managers engage multiple stakeholders in each account.
Target Account List
The result of a well-defined ICP and detailed buyer persona criteria is a target account list that serves as the cornerstone of all ABE program activity. The target account list includes:
- The named accounts (new and/or existing) that the company will engage, and;
- The contacts within those accounts who match Buyer Persona criteria.
A world-class ABE strategy aligns the customer-facing functions for a coordinated process of engaging the target accounts. Build a revenue model that attracts financial and executive support, set a foundation for cross-functional alignment throughout program execution, and define scalable process and plays to guide the organization’s efforts. A winning strategy communicates why an ABE program is right for the company, how program success will be measured, and specifies how each stakeholder and participant helps the organization achieve that success.
The ABE revenue model demonstrates how marketing and sales investments will drive revenue within target accounts. This includes forecasting key program outcomes such as deals, revenue, lifetime value, and acquisition costs. To create this model, estimate the lead and opportunity creation goals, sales development and sales staffing plans, funnel conversion rates and advertising spend metrics (e.g., CPM rates for list appends, retargeted display, or email platforms).
Successful ABE requires ongoing coordination between marketing, sales development, sales, customer success, and executives. Part of the ABE strategy is ensuring that this coordination happens, and that it is effective. Before launching an ABE program, the cross-functional ABE team needs to align on program goals and clarify roles during program execution. It also needs to agree on how effectiveness will be measured, and the frequency and format of how results will be shared.
Adoption of ABE means change for the organization. This change will manifest in new functional roles, team structures, data management requirements, vendor relationships, and customer interactions. The processes needed to support ABE are different from those that support volume and velocity marketing. Defining ABE-specific processes early in program implementation ensures visibility for stakeholders and facilitates organizational alignment.
The ABE playbook defines the plays, process, people, metrics, technology and coordination of resources to launch and scale a successful ABE program. This playbook is the operating manual for the program, containing details such as account-specific touch strategies (e.g., channels, number/frequency/timing of touches, email templates, creative unit specs, etc.) over the course of the program.
Effective ABE includes a well-structured and continually refreshed data set that covers all target accounts and the key contacts within those accounts. The next step is creating a plan for how to build, manage, and organize the database of accounts and contacts. A data management process that delivers accuracy at scale will significantly impact the overall success of the Account-Based Everything program. It’s important to secure expertise for the proper provisioning and maintenance of this asset. Additionally, organizations that adopt an Account-Based Everything approach work to ensure that all customer-facing reps (marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success) use the same database as their “source of truth.”
Database Build Out
The database must include all target accounts in addition to contacts that match the buyer personas. First, analyze current in-house data and determine coverage of each persona at each account. Then, fill gaps in the data by acquiring or appending records until 100% of the target accounts and at least 70-80% of buyer personas are represented in the database.
Data Management Process
Given constant changes in business and personal information, target account list accuracy declines at a rate of 20% (or more) each year. The data management process enables the consistent cleansing of bad records, appending of incomplete records, and updating of records as they change. Set an objective to maintain 100% coverage (i.e., accurate, current data) of the target accounts and 70-80% coverage of key stakeholder contacts. Data automation vendors can help scale this process over time. In the short run, manual data management may be cost-justified by the revenue and customer lifetime assumption in the ABE revenue model.
Account Data Structure
Account data structure organizes the numerous subsidiaries, business units, and buying centers within each target account into parent/child relationships. Properly structured, account data ensures all marketing, sales and customer success activities are directed toward the correct contacts and business units.
Account intelligence helps marketing, sales development, sales and customer success collaborate on customized, account-centric campaigns that resonate and convert. Standardize the account planning process by assigning key team members to each account or set of accounts, equipping all teams with actionable account intelligence, defining reusable ABE campaigns and plays, and holding regular review sessions. Ensure all four functions (marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success) are represented in account planning and team assignment. A thorough and inclusive planning process allows multiple teams – and the business – to identify opportunities to customize campaigns and execute quickly at scale.
Cross-Functional Account Teams
ABE account teams consist of cross-functional stakeholders assigned to a particular account or set of accounts. For example, General Electric, a company with over 300,000 employees spread across nine major business units, may warrant its own account team. Alternately, the specialized nature of the Financial Services industry may justify a single team dedicated to all FinServ accounts. Account teams are typically led by the sales manager or account executive with support from sales development, customer success, and marketing. An emerging practice in ABE is to assign executives as an overlay support for multiple account teams.
Account plans leverage intelligence to identify the key business objectives and challenges that target accounts are facing. Account teams use this intelligence to craft campaigns and plays that address these objectives and challenges.
ABE organizations will typically collect and analyze account research in three different areas:
- Markets – e.g., competitors, regulatory changes, regional developments
- Companies – e.g., organizational hierarchy, financials, key initiatives and challenges
- Contacts – e.g., job promotions, social media posts, relationships/connections, customer service interactions
Regular account reviews summarize progress and lessons learned, and prioritize actions for the coming period (e.g., month or quarter). As executive stakeholders attend these reviews, the meeting format and analytics are standardized to maintain flow and facilitate comparison. Between reviews, most companies hold account team meetings (some use the daily stand-up format common to agile/lean project teams) to share intelligence, monitor campaign performance, and agree on tactical adjustments.
Account Campaign Design
Account plans include the campaigns or plays that will achieve the account’s objectives. To minimize one-off or custom campaigns, define several campaign / play templates for common
ABE scenarios such as:
- Acquisition plays targeting “new logo” accounts
- Expansion within existing accounts
- Nurture, i.e., scalable, personalized plays targeting top-of-funnel contacts
- Ad hoc plays to capitalize on change events (e.g., new hires, mergers, competitor announcements.
Content and Offers
Content and offers are designed to be customized to the goals and challenges of each target account and/or stakeholder, at each lifecycle stage. ABE teams create a significant quantity of offers that appeal to multiple stakeholders in a target account, and that engage these accounts at different lifecycle stages. These offers are packaged in diverse formats and optimized for different channels to maximize relevance and drive conversion.
In volume-based, lead-centric demand generation, content and offers are created to capture the widest audience possible. In ABE, content and offers are designed to drive engagement within specific accounts.
To achieve this objective, they must be personalized on three levels:
- Account – e.g., addressing the current situation at a specific account or set of accounts;
- Persona – e.g., addressing the professional needs of specific buyer-types within target accounts, and;
- Buyer – e.g., created or custom-packaged for consumption by named individuals within target accounts.
Account-Based Marketing Content & Offers
Short-form content offers can be consumed within seconds or minutes. These offers include blog posts, videos, infographics, and other content that require very little of a prospect’s cognitive processing power. In an ABE context, short-form content is a way to deliver messages to target accounts to initiate or expand buyer engagement. For example, many organizations engage busy executive personas with 20-30 second videos personalized at the account and buyer level by embedding target account logos and executive names.
Long-form content offers such as white papers require more cognitive investment from the buyer, and in return, provide greater value. For example, some IT security vendors will perform a diagnostic scan of a target account’s public-facing network, then invest 5 to 8 hours (prior to initial outreach) producing a customized report of potential vulnerabilities for the CIO. This is highly personalized long-form content that the intended audience will be highly motivated to consume.
Physical events are in-person gatherings between the vendor and the target account that fall into three main categories:
- Third-party events hosted by neither the target account nor the vendor; for example, an industry tradeshow like RSA.
- Owned, one-to-many events hosted by vendors targeting multiple prospects and/or customer accounts.
- Example: a business dinner with 6 CFOs from companies on the target account list.
- Owned, one-to-one events staged for the benefit of one target account. Example: a series of lunchtime educational sessions held at the target account’s headquarters
Virtual events, like webinars and online trade shows, are often used in volume-based demand generation. However, they can also be used to engage contacts on the target account list. For example, one company targeting Proctor & Gamble used research to identify that one of P&G’s main objectives for the year was to drive higher wallet share from Walmart. This company created a webinar specifically for P&G titled, ”5 Strategies for P&G to Drive Wallet Share at Walmart” and only invited P&G attendees.
Physical promotional items are a way to gain the attention of busy buyers. For example, one very successful ABE program includes the monthly delivery of business leadership books to key contacts within target accounts.
Account-Based Sales Development Content & Offers
Traditional B2B messaging statements describe the seller’s business to a wide range of stakeholders, including current and prospective customers and employees, investors, media and the analyst community. Often that language is too generic to effectively engage target accounts. Custom messaging leverages account intelligence to describe the vendor’s business and offering with words that resonate with specific buyer personas in each target account.
The manifestations of custom messaging are email and voicemail templates, customer stories, phone talking points, and other custom content tuned to each account or set of accounts, and the targeted buyer personas within those accounts. An example of this is an email template with a customer story highlighting challenges and solutions relevant to CIOs at large retail companies.
The call-to-action is defined as the next step the SDR requests from the prospect during outreach. Emerging strategies in ABSD include requesting time for an objective, high-value offer (e.g., a free, no obligation audit) or to present a relevant customer story or demo.
Account-Based Sales Content & Offers
Custom messaging is tailored to the target account, the stakeholder(s), and their current situation. Custom messaging is used throughout the sales process in prospecting, value propositions, sales presentations, demos, proposals, etc.
Insights have proven effective at both engaging prospects and re-engaging buyers who are otherwise unresponsive. An example of this is a seller inviting a target account buyer to review and discuss recent data collected by the vendor. Advanced ABS organizations will further customize this offer by including the target account in the delivery of insights. For example, one social media analytics vendor’s campaign included a competitive benchmark analysis of their prospect’s social media effectiveness.
Custom workshops are interactive engagements led by the seller for a potential buyer. These workshops are often delivered in-person, but can also be delivered virtually. Workshops provide a unique opportunity for deep engagement between the seller and multiple stakeholders within the target account. For example, many sellers will use workshops to conduct an in-depth diagnosis of an organization’s business challenges, then follow up with an executive presentation of findings and recommendations.
Effective demos are tailored to solve the specific goals and challenges of an account and the key stakeholders.
Unlike template-based, high-level corporate presentations, custom presentations provide another opportunity to address specific target account goals and challenges.
Proposals are not just price quotes. Effective proposals demonstrate an understanding of the buyer’s objectives and how the vendor’s solution will help to achieve those objectives.
A business case is a quantifiable model that justifies the purchase decision. Using data gathered during deep discovery, account-based sales reps co-create custom business cases with buyers.
White Glove Trial
Trials allow buyers to experience the product before buying the full solution. In a white-glove trial, the seller’s organization tightly manages the schedule, scope and budget, ensuring a high level of buyer engagement and a successful trial.
Account-Based Customer Success Content & Offers
The welcome call helps build trust in target accounts through a smooth transition of ownership from sales to customer success. ABE organizations use this opportunity to meet new stakeholders who can later guide upsell and cross-sell activities.
ABE organizations use training to build awareness of additional resources for target accounts, such as upcoming user events, product certification paths, and online or local user communities.
While surveys are commonly used to measure customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, they are also useful in uncovering the target account’s unmet needs. ABE leaders use survey findings to create customer stories that support account expansion efforts.
An excellent example of personalized content is a customer story where the featured customer is also the employer of the intended reader.
Quarterly Business Reviews
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are executive-level meetings, often held in person, where vendors and buyers exchange reports and feedback on the state of the business relationship. ABE leaders use QBRs to uncover referrals to new buyers and business units inside the target account. They also use QBRs as a forum to demo upcoming product releases that address the target account’s unmet needs. User events range from annual global customer conferences (e.g., Dreamforce) to regional meetings of practitioners (e.g., Chicago Marketing Cloud User Group). These events provide a setting for ABE organizations to enroll key customer stakeholders into their wider community of customers and partners. User events provide a relaxed setting ideal for product demos or interactive workshops.
Workshops provide high-value, highly personalized customer experiences that build trust and a sense of partnership with target accounts. A compelling ABE workshop format involves vendor product architects meeting with product champions in key target accounts to preview product roadmap features and ideate potential use cases and value drivers. ABE vendors use these workshops to surface unmet needs in the champions’ businesses and make agreements linking new feature development to account expansion, referrals, PR activities.
Channels and Plays
Successful ABE programs leverage a mix of channels and plays. They deliver content and offers to buyers within target accounts where and when they are most likely to engage. Successful ABE adoption requires organizations to evolve how they work. For many volume and velocity organizations, two or three well-executed demand gen tactics may drive most of the performance. The collaborative nature of ABE involves many more functions, people, systems and processes. These elements must be managed to minimize internal confusion and ensure a positive customer experience. Successful ABE organizations excel at orchestrating all of these moving parts.
In Account-Based Everything, orchestration is defined as:
- The coordination of different activities, programs and campaigns used by marketing, sales development, sales and customer success to engage the target account, or set of accounts;
- The use of these activities, programs, and campaigns to connect with multiple stakeholders within the target account(s), and;
- Intelligence-driven timing and sequencing of activities, programs, and campaigns in order to maximize conversion within these account(s).
Account-Based Marketing Channels & Plays
Account-Based Advertising is frequently used in ABE programs. It can drive initial brand awareness to target account contacts (i.e., pre-targeting) or deliver additional brand impressions and offers (i.e., re-targeting) to contacts that have already visited the website.
Web personalization allows organizations to dynamically present custom content to target accounts in real time. For example, if an unknown Progressive Insurance employee visits the website, and Progressive is on the target account list, that user is shown a site tile offering a live product demo tailored to Progressive Insurance.
Email is a key component of the ABE orchestration mix. Email campaigns can be personalized to engage each stakeholder on the account list with precise timing and frequency. When executing ABE email campaigns, ensure that all delivery and response actions are measured at the account level and the contact level.
The ABE movement has helped drive a revival of B2B direct mail. Like email, this channel enables personalization and relevance. Examples of this include dimensional mailers or boxed items that require signature upon delivery. Innovative direct mail offers get more attention, and the time-stamped proof of delivery enables orchestration of timely SDR or AE follow-up.
When engaging content syndication providers for traditional lead generation, marketers ask that they filter registrations according to criteria such as employee count or job titles. ABE marketers require these providers to filter their target account list.
Orchestration involves using multiple channels, including social, to reach buyers. A simple example is the use of LinkedIn InMail to reach busy executives.
Account-Based Sales Development Channels & Plays
SDRs use multiple channels to increase a prospect’s likelihood of accepting a connection attempt. Account-Based Sales Development plays include multiple touches across multiple channels (e.g., email, phone, and social). Multi-channel campaigns typically include 8-12 SDR touches over a 2- or 3-week period, on top of the touches generated by marketing.
Account-based SDRs only follow up on inbound leads from their assigned target accounts. Inbound leads from outside the target accounts are typically followed up by a separate inbound-only SDR team. For some organizations, leads from accounts outside the ICP are routed directly to a nurture program, bypassing the SDR function entirely.
The majority of ABSD effort involves personalized multi-channel outreach based on account intelligence or current campaigns. SDRs are efficient at finding and analyzing account intelligence that inform and prioritize the SDR’s next steps. For example, a “trigger event” (e.g., breaking news on new regulations affecting a target account’s whole business) is likely a higher priority for outreach than calling a single junior-level contact who recently downloaded a white paper.
Email is currently the highest converting channel in an SDR’s multi-touch campaign. Account-based SDRs are trained on:
- Email best practices (e.g., optimized email subject lines, customized value propositions);
- Email sending tips (e.g., how and when to send emails to ensure maximize opens and conversion), and;
- Efficiency hacks (e.g., how to choose and customize templates that increase personalization with minimal time commitment).
While email is the SDR’s weapon of choice, the phone has been making a comeback. Connect rates remain low, but when used in concert with other channels like email and social, the phone is a highly effective channel.
After an initial jolt of popularity with “social selling,” social interactions declined due to weak performance in comparison to phone and email. However, social (in particular, LinkedIn) has recently enjoyed a rebirth as SDRs expand the channels used to engage buyers. SDRs who layer social on top of phone, and email are reporting significantly higher conversion rates.
Account-Based Sales Channels & Plays
Account-based sales reps are adept at using multiple channels to communicate with the customer including email, phone, social, and in-person.
Sales reps use referrals to generate warm introductions to new stakeholders within an account or to buyers at net-new accounts. Referrals are typically the most successful tactic for reaching and ultimately driving engagement with buyers.
Sales reps use networking as another channel into their target accounts. Sales reps network with buyers at live events or with influencers who can connect to buyers.
Sales reps are typically required to prospect into their target accounts. In order to be successful, prospecting is driven by custom messaging based on an account’s or stakeholder’s current situation. It is supported by marketing efforts such as direct mail, account-based advertising, etc.
An early step in the sales process where sales reps use questions and custom messaging to map the current situation and key stakeholders within an account. Deep discovery enables relevant buyer interactions throughout the process.
High Value Selling Plays
High-value selling plays convey important information, such as data and insights, to buyers early in the sales process. These plays build trust with stakeholders and open the door to customized interactions as the process continues. For example, many ABE organizations offer interactive workshops during the early stages of the sales process. These collaborative and valuable buyer interactions facilitate the deep discovery needed to make later-stage plays (e.g., presentations, demos, proposals) more relevant to target accounts and buyers.
While not unique to Account-Based Everything, negotiation and closing are core to every sale. However, with a finite target account list, the stakes are higher and there is less margin for error. ABE organizations create specialized plays to facilitate negotiations and manage deals to a successful close. An example of this is a close plan: a set of deliverables that the buyer and sales rep agree will be completed before a sale is made.
Account-Based Customer Success Channels & Plays
TOPO has reviewed the onboarding activities of leading Customer Success teams. Thematically, many of these activities map to one or more of TOPO’s Five Key Attributes of Account-Based Everything. Some of these activities include:
- Documenting and making visible all onboarding success criteria, key milestones, project team responsibilities, and potential barriers using simple red/yellow/green status dashboards. [orchestration]
- Building executive-to-executive relationships with the target account sponsor, scheduling recurring progress check calls in advance. [orchestration, personalization]
- Tightly managing initial rollouts / pilot deployments, identifying each individual in the customer’s pilot group in order to quickly remove success barriers and ensure a white glove experience. [account intelligence, personalization, coordinated outreach]
- Defining a “red phone” executive escalation path for customer success managers. [account intelligence, high value accounts, orchestration]
- Monitoring progress via account reviews, led by customer success managers, with support from sales, sales development, marketing, and executives. [high value accounts, orchestration]
Many adoption campaign activities used by ABE leaders also align to the Five Key Attributes. Examples include:
- Identifying the full rollout group by email, social, phone, and geo-location, integrating with product platform to distinguish deployed users from not-yet-deployed. [intelligence-driven campaigns, orchestration]
- Target the full rollout group with account-based ads showing training setup guides on desktop, social, and mobile. [orchestration, coordinated outreach, valuable and personalized]
- Creating an internal marketing kit, including CEO email announcements to end users and middle management, announcement posters for common areas, intranet banners/tiles and content, success-based charitable giving. [valuable, personalized buyer experiences]
Account Expansion Programs
Several channels and plays ABE organizations use to acquire new accounts (e.g., account-based advertising, direct mail, SDR outreach, live events) are repurposed in cross-sell/up-sell campaigns. An emerging practice at leading Account-Based Everything companies is the creation of growth SDR teams dedicated to executing upsell and cross-sell plays inside existing accounts. Examples of these plays include:
- Customer Story Campaigns – outreach to buyers and influencers in business units, subsidiaries, and other affiliated companies that have been targeted for product adoption in the account planning process.
- User Event Campaigns – outreach new champions and advocates inside the target account to drive attendance at regional or global user events and relevant industry trade shows.
ABE metrics provide an account-centric view of program success that builds on traditional conversion measures. ABE metrics enable visibility of progress against the target account list, throughout the customer lifecycle. Account-Based Everything requires investment and typically is not expected to produce instant revenue. It takes time for ABE strategies to start influencing leads, pipeline and revenue. However, the business impact of ABE can be measured from day one. Focus on coverage analysis in the planning phase, engagement metrics as campaigns take flight, and activity metrics as offers are delivered across channels. As the program matures, gauge how the collective effort is driving pipeline, opportunity velocity, win rates, deal size and lifetime value.
A core set of ABE metrics revolves around what is called “coverage,” which indicates the level of database completeness. For example, if 40% of accounts lack contacts that match buyer personas, this gap in the data will need to be closed or significantly narrowed.
Engagement metrics (e.g., unique visitors, visit duration) are important leading indicators of ABE program performance. A best practice is to record a pre-launch baseline period (e.g., 90 days) of engagement levels within the target accounts. Once the program launches, compare target account engagement to the baseline period. This analysis informs adjustments to targeting, advertising, content, and other program elements.
As target accounts engage with offers, the website, and the SDR / sales team, account-level views into campaign effectiveness (e.g., spend, impressions, outreach touches, leads, opportunities) will drive account plan adjustments, and enable comparison across account teams.
Pipeline and Revenue Metrics
ABE may generate fewer leads at the top of the funnel than lead-centric demand gen. However, it delivers greater results lower in the funnel, such as pipeline growth, deal velocity, average deal size, and closed/win rates.
A simple method for evaluating overall ABE effectiveness is to compare pipeline and revenue performance of target accounts to two cohorts of non-targeted accounts. One cohort could be a random sample of existing customers. A second cohort could be a handpicked “look-alike” group of non-targeted accounts with comparable longevity (e.g., account creation dates) to the companies on the target list.
ABE program effectiveness is measured by using cohort analysis within the context of lifecycle metrics (e.g., activation rate, retention rate, lifetime value, etc.) to compare target accounts against each other or against non-target accounts.
The ABE tech stack enables target list management, personalization at scale, orchestration across channels, and account-centric analytics. To effectively scale a strategic ABE program and enable the tactics described throughout this framework, organizations call upon a range of technologies. While each organization’s needs will vary, the following technologies are foundational elements in a scalable ABE stack.
Data automation is essential for the build-out, appending, and cleansing of the target list (e.g., Data.com, Datanyze, DiscoverOrg, LeadGenius, LinkedIn, NetProspex, RainKing, Zoominfo).
Predictive analytics uses internal and external data to define target accounts and prioritize activities (e.g., 6sense, Everstring, Infer, Lattice Engines, Leadspace, Mintigo, Radius, Spiderbook-Demandbase).
Advertising directed programmatically at target accounts at scale, including B2B-specific (e.g., Demandbase, Terminus, Triblio), horizontal (e.g., Google) and social ad networks (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).
Web personalization allows organizations to dynamically present custom web content to target accounts in real time (e.g. Demandbase, Marketo, Optimizely, Triblio).
Sales communications apps connect to standard email platforms, offer advanced templates and tracking/analytics features, and enable SDRs and sales reps to personalize outreach at scale (e.g., Engagio, Outreach, PersistIQ, SalesLoft, ClearSlide, ToutApp, YesWare).
Marketing automation, originally built to support lead-centric demand generation, is central to the ABE stack. It is the system of record for contacts and the delivery vehicle for scaled email campaigns (e.g., Hubspot, Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce/Pardot).
The promise of ABM/ABE is enabling marketers to orchestrate people, data, technology and process to engage target accounts at scale. The current vendor landscape addresses this need in parts but not in whole. Therefore, TOPO sees a new category emerging in the stack called ABM management. The current incarnation of ABM management consists of applications that augment and extend traditional platforms such as CRM and Marketing Automation to better support account-based programs (e.g., Demandbase, Engagio, LeanData).