Last week marked my one year anniversary at TOPO. For most of that time, my work has involved helping companies transition to account-based go-to-market strategies. I’ve observed that people within these companies bring diverse perspectives on what account-based is, what it does, and what it means. That diversity is actually important to preserve, and even embrace. Based on functional roles, the way account-based programs are designed and executed will vary. The diversity of perspectives makes marketing and sales outreach more compelling and engaging.
As a consultant, one of my key roles is discovery: a fancy-sounding word that simply means asking questions. Sometimes client answers to important questions about their business are unintentionally vague. So I ask more questions to unpack what’s going on. One topic that frequently warrants scrutiny is the degree to which the client has implemented an account-based go-to-market strategy.
In nearly every TOPO engagement with clients who are launching an account-based GTM strategy, a common question we hear goes like this:
“How can we learn from others’ mistakes so we can realize the benefits of account-based (e.g., higher ACV, LTV) faster?”
We love hearing this question because we have, indeed, observed the habits of many clients as they implement their account-based programs. We’ve seen them get awesome results and we’ve seen them struggle, too. Here is a summary of their struggles, with recommendations for how your company can overcome them.
In a previous post, The Framework for Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Development, we defined the Ideal Customer Profile and provided the framework for ICP Development. In this post, we provide recommendations for the key questions to answer when collecting qualitative data in the ICP development process.
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.
The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) defines the firmographic, environmental and behavioral attributes of accounts expected to become a company’s most valuable customers. It is developed through both qualitative and quantitative analyses; and may optionally be informed by predictive analytics software.
Unlike the term “target customer,” which is often used to describe any company that might buy a product or service, the ICP is focused on the most valuable customers and prospects that are also most likely to buy. The Ideal Customer Profile should also not be confused with the Total Addressable Market or Total Available Market, which are calculations or estimates of the universe of potential target customers.
The ICP is a foundational, organization-wide decision impacting downstream sales and marketing efforts. It aligns marketing, sales, service and executive teams to the highest-value accounts. It also creates focus on scalable and repeatable strategies and tactics to engage and convert top accounts. And it drives target account list creation, segmentation, organizational structure, and other key activities.
Over the last 10 years, B2B demand generation teams have used technology such as marketing automation to become highly-scaled demand generation engines, delivering high volumes of leads each month. But these teams fail to adequately support the sales team’s strategic pursuit of named accounts. In fact, on average, only 10-20% of the leads generated by marketing are from accounts on the sales team’s target list.
As marketers seek to better align with and enable sales, the focus is moving from a traditional, lead-centric view to an account-centric view. This shift is driving innovation throughout the value chain, from targeting and offer strategy, to the sales technology stack, to the ways demand generation teams collaborate.