July 31, 2019
July 31, 2019
Capture the value of account-based campaigns more effectively with the Account-Based Everything framework that features five key attributes.
Account-based campaigns, known historically as integrated marketing campaigns, have long been a key tactic of business-to-business (B2B) selling, but organizations often struggle to capture its value because they lack enterprisewide commitment to mobilize efforts against a key set of target accounts.
TOPO designed the Account-Based Everything (ABE) framework to help companies understand the alignment and commitment required to succeed with an account-based go-to-market strategy.
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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 life-cycle 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.
Account-based 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 the 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.
Advanced sales and marketing organizations have realized that specific types of accounts drive the most compelling customer acquisition costs (CAC) and lifetime value (LTV). A common example has been the move up-market into the enterprise and/or targeting specific vertical markets.
One client, for instance, identified three verticals that made up 80% of its customer installed base. Customers in these three segments outperformed all other key indicators like close rate, annual contract value (ACV) and churn. However, of the 6,000+ leads per month delivered by marketing, only 5% (300) fell within these key verticals. And of the 25 meetings/month generated by sales development representatives (SDRs), only three or four were with companies in these key industries.
To address these problems, the company reorganized toward Account-Based Everything. It began by focusing sales development efforts on key verticals and improved from four to 25 meetings per month in the target. Demand generation also became more focused; delivering far fewer leads overall, while yielding four times the previous number of leads in the key verticals.
Over the past 10 years, 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 so 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.
The modern version of the account-based movement is still young, but early adopters report 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.
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. It is defined by five attributes:
Organizations align to a defined ideal customer profile (ICP) and focus all efforts across the organizations against ICP accounts. For example, an emerging ad tech company built its entire revenue strategy around landing and expanding the world’s 50 largest consumer advertisers.
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.
Organizations run multichannel, multitouch, multi-organization campaigns to drive initial customer acquisition and eventually upsell/cross-sell revenue.
In the volume and velocity model, the incentive to personalize does not exist and 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.
The entire organization is committed to continuing 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 12 months, we will run quarterly multitouch campaigns into the target account against 45 identified stakeholders.”
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. More detail of the categories and elements in the framework are as follows.
In volume and velocity marketing, programs are executed against market segments where the company’s products 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 Account-Based Everything, the focus is on engaging specific named accounts to generate leads, pipeline and revenue.
The ICP defines the attributes of the accounts that the company wants to attract, retain and grow. The process starts with defining the ICP, the common attributes of customers that best match the company’s revenue and business objectives.
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.
Identify the common attributes of accounts where the company has found success attracting, engaging, closing and retaining business. Create the ICP from three datasets:
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 Account-Based Everything 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, called buyer personas, describe the buyer’s daily activities, 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.
The result of a well-defined ICP and detailed buyer persona criteria is a target account list that serves as the cornerstone of all Account-Based Everything program activity. The target account list includes:
A world-class Account-Based Everything 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 processes and plays to guide the organization’s efforts.
A winning strategy communicates why an Account-Based Everything program is right for the company, how program success will be measured, and how each stakeholder and participant helps the organization achieve that success.
The Account-Based Everything 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).
A successful Account-Based Everything program requires ongoing coordination among marketing, sales development, sales, customer success and executives. Part of the strategy is ensuring that this coordination is effective.
Before launching a program, the cross-functional Account-Based Everything 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 Account-Based Everything 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 Account-Based Everything are different from those that support volume and velocity marketing. Defining specific processes early in program implementation ensures visibility for stakeholders and facilitates organizational alignment.
The playbook defines the plays, process, people, metrics, technology and coordination of resources to launch and scale a successful Account-Based Everything 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 Account-Based Everything includes a well-structured and continually refreshed dataset 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 this approach must ensure that all customer-facing reps use the same database.
The database must include all target accounts and 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% to 80% of buyer personas are represented in the database.
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 of the target accounts and 70% to 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 justified by the revenue and customer lifetime assumption in the Account-Based Everything revenue model.
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 Account-Based Everything 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 to identify opportunities to customize campaigns and execute quickly at scale.
Account-Based Everything account teams consist of cross-functional stakeholders assigned to a particular account or set of accounts. For example, a company with over 300,000 employees spread across nine major business units may warrant its own account team. Or the specialized nature of the financial services industry may justify a single team dedicated to all financial services 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 Account-Based Everything 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.
Account-Based Everything organizations will typically collect and analyze account research in three different areas:
Regular account reviews summarize progress and lessons learned, and prioritize actions for the coming period. 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 plans include the campaigns or plays that will achieve the account’s objectives. To minimize one-off or custom campaigns, define several templates for common Account-Based Everything scenarios, such as:
Content and offers are designed to be customized to the goals and challenges of each target account and/or stakeholder, at each life cycle stage.
Account-Based Everything teams create a significant quantity of offers that appeal to multiple stakeholders in a target account, and that engage these accounts at different life cycle 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 Account-Based Everything, content and offers are designed to drive engagement within specific accounts.
To achieve this objective, they must be personalized on three levels:
Successful Account-Based Everything programs leverage a mix of channels and plays. They deliver content and offers to buyers within target accounts when and where they are most likely to engage.
The collaborative nature of Account-Based Everything involves many functions, people, systems and processes. These elements must be managed to minimize internal confusion and ensure a positive customer experience. Successful organizations excel at orchestrating all of these moving parts.
Orchestration in Account-Based Everything is defined as:
Account-Based Everything metrics provide an account-centric view of program success that builds on traditional conversion measures. The metrics enable visibility of progress against the target account list throughout the customer life cycle.
Account-Based Everything requires investment and is typically not expected to produce instant revenue. It takes time for these strategies to start influencing leads, pipeline and revenue. However, the business impact of Account-Based Everything 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 LTV.
A core set of Account-Based Everything metrics revolves around 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 Account-Based Everything program performance. A best practice is to record a prelaunch 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.
Account-Based Everything may generate fewer leads at the top of the funnel than lead-centric demand generation, but 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 Account-Based Everything effectiveness is to compare pipeline and revenue performance of target accounts to two cohorts of nontargeted accounts. One cohort could be a random sample of existing customers. A second cohort could be a handpicked look-alike group of nontargeted accounts with comparable longevity (e.g., account creation dates) to the companies on the target list.
Account-Based Everything program effectiveness is measured by using cohort analysis within the context of life cycle metrics (e.g., activation rate, retention rate, LTV) to compare target accounts against each other or against nontarget accounts.
The Account-Based Everything technology stack enables target list management, personalization at scale, orchestration across channels and account-centric analytics. To effectively scale a strategic Account-Based Everything program and enable the tactics described throughout this framework, organizations call upon a range of technologies as foundational elements.
Data automation is essential for the build-out, appending and cleansing of the target list.
Predictive analytics uses internal and external data to define target accounts and prioritize activities.
Advertising directed programmatically at target accounts at scale, including B2B, horizontal and social ad networks.
Web personalization allows organizations to dynamically present custom web content to target accounts in real time.
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.
Marketing automation, originally built to support lead-centric demand generation, is central to the Account-Based Everything stack. It is the system of record for contacts and the delivery vehicle for scaled email campaigns.
The promise of account-based marketing/Account-Based Everything 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.
We see a new category emerging in the stack called account-based marketing management consisting of applications that augment and extend traditional platforms such as CRM and marketing automation to better support account-based programs.
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