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The “ABM Trifecta:” Leveraging Sales, Marketing and Customer Success to Reach and Win your Target Accounts

Carlyn Manly
,
July 17, 2018

Connecting with your target accounts and looking at customer lifetime value holistically are foundational components of any successful account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. From defining who they are, to converting them into loyal customers by working synergistically across teams to consistently deliver an awesome buying and customer experience – when done right, ABM can truly incite a Go-to-Market revolution for enterprises. In essence, the key to conversion – both from initial deal or by land-and-expand – is achieved through meaningful digital engagement that is education-driven and consultative – via the “ABM Trifecta.”

Why the Trifecta? A Unique Perspective

At Folloze, we define the ABM Trifecta as the collaborative efforts between sales, marketing and customer success to engage, develop, win and retain top target accounts. I've had the privilege in my career to have worked in each department and seen first hand the importance of all three working together. The relationship between these 3 departments is essential to successful selling, as there are many conversations that take place with accounts between sales, marketing and CS throughout the buying cycle. Enterprises are constantly striving to connect the dots from not only data coming in from various automated sources, but also from behavior gleaned from day-to-day conversations. Therefore, at the end of the day, each team plays an integral role.

The Bow-Tie Funnel

The “Bow-Tie” Funnel Effect

It is also important to note that in today’s digital marketplace, where practically everything is sold as a service, the days of the one-sided sales and marketing "funnel" are now over. Today, where customers start small and subsequently grow, 70+% of organizational revenue actually occurs post-initial purchase. However, with most marketing activities occurring before the sale, versus after the win, this creates a major disconnect. Instead, organizations need to look at customer lifetime value holistically and move to a

“Bow-Tie” funnel approach. The Bow-Tie can be thought of as an infinity loop for marketing efforts, where you’re always treating a customer like a potential buyer. You should essentially always be marketing to new accounts while engaging and expanding current ones. The ultimate goal here is to not only secure a lifetime client, but to also obtain new customers by word of mouth.

The ABM Trifecta: Part 1 - Marketing

While adopting the Bow-Tie funnel approach and working in tandem with sales and customer success is key in providing value at each stage of the relationship, marketing should also be hyper-focused on the following specific activities to ensure overall success:

  1. ‍Consistently Review Targets and Data: From an operational perspective, once you have established account criteria and identified your targets, marketers should not only document this process, but also establish a regular cadence in which you will review the list with sales, marketing and customer success to ensure you are on track.

  2. Educate through Storytelling: Select themes that resonate with your accounts and help provide guidance to their current challenges. Position your organization as a trusted advisor and partner and provide examples of how others are tackling similar obstacles. At Folloze, we have the ‘5 Fundamentals for ABM Success’ and have created a content waterfall where we can leverage these pieces in one our content boards to tell a story throughout the buying process. Also, when curating your content, think beyond your own created materials and leverage 3rd party content. Readers want to hear from thought leaders and other points of views.

  3. Map Campaigns to Accounts: Customize your messaging and content for each type of campaign and target them to specific accounts. Find out what is working by identifying campaigns that are getting the most engagement from your target personas and leverage them for other accounts who are experiencing the same challenges or have expressed interest in the same topics.

  4. Collaborate and Measure Results Across the Trifecta: As mentioned previously, check in consistently with sales and customer success and share with them high-performing topics. Ask them to share insights into specific accounts they may have gathered from their conversations with customers. Typically, you will find some patterns and you can leverage these for future campaigns and when you are deciding on topics when creating content. And always run reports or dashboards on account status, as well details provided by customer success to look out for any interesting data points.

The ABM Trifecta: Part 2 - Sales

With the initial sale as simply the beginning of the customer lifetime journey, the role of sales has now also expanded. Salespeople today need to continue nurturing customers post-sale in an effort to retain and expand their accounts in the following ways:

  1. Pay Attention to Signals: Listen for opportunities to upsell and cross sell. This can be from conversations, or reports of behavior data from the buyer or customer. Also, proactively offer up information to marketing to deliver what resonated with buyers from your personal conversations. Marketing can then implement what you shared and apply it to others in the organization and launch programs for identified “look-a-like” accounts.

  2. Continue the Conversation to Stay Top of Mind: Once engagement has been made between sales and a potential buyer, continue the conversation to maintain your relevance. For example, at Folloze, we often leverage topics or case studies shared during a conversation into a digital experience, or Folloze board, that is relevant to the end user to keep us top of mind.

  3. Deploy Ongoing and Highly Targeted Campaigns - Sales can and should send a message that lets buyers know they’ve put together content for a specific topic or begin the conversation by highlighting a specific piece of content from a Folloze board. Additionally, marketing can deliver this motion at scale by sending on behalf of multiple sellers to various accounts and contacts while still placing the seller front and center.

The ABM Trifecta: Part 3 - Customer Success

As mentioned earlier, when selling to larger enterprises, more than 70% of organizational revenue will primarily come from post-initial sale. Therefore, it’s no wonder why involving the customer success organization in your ABM strategy is imperative:

  1. Translate Insights into Action: Customer Success teams should always conduct quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to ensure that they are on track and to also determine if there are any potential upsell and cross sell opportunities. It is also essential that your CS team has an area in your CRM where they can share important details about the account, as well as individual contacts. In conjunction with QBRs and the customer maturity model, this will ensure the customer is on track for success and account renewal.

  2. Monitor Customer Health: In order to ensure customer health, customer success teams should create well thought out implementation, onboarding and training programs. Upon creation, share with sales and marketing teams so that they can leverage in their go-to-market activities. Additionally, consistently monitoring usage data contributes to account renewal, but it can also signal the possibility for an upsell and cross sell opportunity.

  3. Never Underestimate the Power of Referrals: Customer Success should always invest in its user champions, as they are key to account success and your inside track to specific challenges, organizational climate, as well as other potential opportunities. Additionally, never forget about the power of brand advocacy – prospects, customers, and former customers are all connected, and these referrals can help in reducing the buying cycle.

  4. Develop and Leverage Case Studies: Marketing and CS should work hand-in-hand to create compelling and value-driven customer case studies, as they provide great materials to leverage when marketing to both prospects and customers throughout the buying journey. At Folloze, we’ve also found that by connecting customers who have similar use cases, their collaboration provides a sense of community, and dramatically helps in the renewal process and upsell opportunities.

The Bottom Line

In order to deliver a Tier-1 customer buying experience of engaging, developing, winning and retaining your top target accounts, consistent collaboration across marketing, sales and customer success – “The ABM Trifecta” – is vital. 

To learn more about the importance of the ABM Trifecta and its role in enabling companies to optimize and sustain revenue growth, check out the recorded webinar. Visit the Bow -Tie Folloze Board to learn why Customer Lifetime Value Reigns Supreme when running a successful ABM program.

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