Being aligned with customers has never been more important than now. We are clearly experiencing an unprecedented moment in time, one that is challenging and reshaping our lives and relationships in every possible way.
We believe that the key to adapting and being prepared for these new conditions is to refocus on understanding evolving customer needs and building deeper relationships. Doing this provides a framework for planning and execution that ensures you’re working towards this new future in a way that is driving value for your customers and your business.
Yet, something is amiss with the current state of B2B marketing that many companies need to address.
The level of urgency in doing this has, of course, increased in the current environment. The evidence is overwhelming.
- Over 80% of the visitors to a website are unlikely to be a potential customer;
- Nearly 50% of marketing budgets is wasted on generating leads that companies don’t contact;
- More than 60% of marketing and sales executives complain that inconsistent messaging has a negative impact on B2B customers.
Most companies acknowledge that there is a huge opportunity to engage customers much more effectively, as engagement shifts online at an accelerating rate.
Many have tried to accomplish this with account-based marketing (ABM), which concentrates efforts on engaging high-priority accounts in a much more personalized way. This fully leverages the breadth of digital channels to augment traditional offline sales efforts, to improve business results.
MARKETING-LED ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING vs. CROSS FUNCTIONAL-LED ACCOUNT-BASED ENGAGEMENT
For many, ABM has proven difficult to implement, as initial efforts have frequently failed. That’s because ABM is usually marketing-led without sufficient buy-in or ownership from the sales and service organizations.
In fact, the term account-based marketing is somewhat of a misnomer. Alignment and integration across marketing, sales, and service is essential to personalize account engagement and optimize end-to-end customer journeys effectively.
The term account-based engagement (ABE) more effectively captures the requirements and coordination needed to deliver highly personalized and integrated pre- and post-sales customer experiences. It conveys the cross-functional integration necessary to shift the paradigm from just generating and closing leads to orchestrating opportunities in the complex ecosystem of larger accounts.
To identify what it takes to succeed with ABE, BCG interviewed 34 senior executives at 21 technology, manufacturing, and business services companies that recently implemented ABE programs. We found that ABE, done well, delivers impressive results, although most have struggled with initial efforts to implement ABE.
Our study shows companies that have persisted and successfully managed ABE implementation challenges have realized faster pipeline growth, higher close rates, larger average deal sizes, and greater customer retention.
For example, a leading information services company used ABE to turn around declining customer retention, achieve industry-leading customer satisfaction scores, and return to above-market revenue growth by building deeper and more enduring customer relationships.
Indeed, every company should learn from the experiences of the ABE trailblazers.
At its core, ABE is all about integrating marketing, sales, and service tightly, breaking through the cultural divisions in organizations, and engaging more deeply and empathetically with the customers that will matter most for your business success moving forward.
This new approach must be rooted in a deeper understanding of the higher expectations that customers have of being engaged by companies in ways that reflect and anticipate their needs in the context of the current environment.
Engagement now must be delicate and thoughtful and recognize our collective difficulties. We fundamentally believe in the power of ABE to do this, especially right now.
Companies that rise to this challenge now will be rewarded with higher retention, advocacy, and lifetime business value from their customer relationships over time. What could be more important than that?
Learn more about how leading B2B companies have addressed challenges and succeeded with ABE in our research study, Moving from ABM to Account-Based Engagement.
Author: Robert Archacki, Partner and Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group.