Hello, Account Based Everything (and Goodbye, Account Based Marketing)

Over the last two years, account-based thinking has taken over the hearts and minds of B2B marketing and sales professionals.  According to industry analyst TOPO, account based topics (marketing and sales development) are the most popular thing clients want to talk about, accounting for a whopping 80% of all inquiries! And search volume for “account based marketing” has risen almost 10x.

Everything is Account-Centric

It’s no surprise that marketing and sales professionals are becoming more account-centric. According to the Corporate Executive Board, there are several factors responsible for the ever-growing number of stakeholders involved in B2B buying decisions, including:

  • An aversion to risk by individual stakeholders and their organizations means that even individuals who possess significant authority still have to build consensus to move ahead with a purchase.
  • Technological complexity requires the involvement of IT, operations, and procurement.
  • Globalization brings the involvement of additional regional players.
  • Tighter regulatory requirements and information protocols from legal and compliance mean even more players.
  • Flat, networked organizations place a premium on cross-silo collaboration.

Moreover, any one person can say no. Any one person can be sick or on PTO, or just ignore you. Or, even if you do have a connection with someone, they can get promoted or transferred or leave the company.

If you have accounts that depend on one or two relationships, you need to recognize that this represents enormous risk to you and your organization – you need to focus on building relationships across the account.

Account Based Marketing is Not Enough

It just makes sense to move to an account-centric model, and as a result, Account Based Marketing has become the hottest thing in B2B marketing. We’ve written a ton about why marketers need to embrace Account Based Marketing and even published the definitive book on the topic, The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing – so we’re obviously big fans of ABM.

But at the same time, Marketing alone is insufficient for account-based success. According to research firm TOPO, Account Based Marketing professionals are currently only getting 15-20% penetration into target accounts. There’s a limit to how deeply you can connect with target accounts using only marketing channels such as ABM advertising, direct mail, and nurturing. Sometimes, you need a 1:1 human connection – and that’s the realm of Sales and Sales Development.

This is why we’ve always felt that Account Based Marketing was the wrong word to describe the process of coordinating personalized efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at target accounts. In fact, our definition of account based marketing made sure to point out that although ABM may have marketing in the name, in reality it’s a close collaboration between sales and marketing – and without that alignment ABM will fail.

Perhaps it’s time we retire the Account Based Marketing misnomer?

The Rise of Account Based Sales, Sales Development and Customer Success

Even as the limitations of Account Based Marketing are being recognized, new account-based disciplines have proliferated in B2B organizations.

  • Account Based Sales Development. More and more organizations are taking an account-centric lens to sales development. Rather than relying on the high-volumes of single-threaded prospecting, these companies are strategically focusing on a smaller, more targeted set of accounts and running personalized, highly-relevant plays to penetrate those accounts.
  • Account Based Sales. Some would say that Sales has always been account-centric, but Account Based Sales brings an even higher-level of focus to ensure quality relationships with multiple contacts at multiple levels at an account.
  • Account Based Customer Success. All too often, a company has a single champion or power-user at a customer account. But what happens when that person leaves the company? Worse, what about when it comes time to cross-sell into the account and the company finds that it doesn’t have the right relationships with the decisions makers and influencers for the new product? Account Based Customer Success fixes that by systematically expanding the depth and breadth of relationships across client accounts.

The Problem with Silos

The problem occurs when you have all these account-based disciplines happening in silos. You can’t have Marketing just decide to embrace ABM without deep alignment with Sales – otherwise you end up with ad retargeting and fancy mailers and field events for accounts that Sales doesn’t really care about.

Similarly, you can’t just have Account Based Sales Development without support from Marketing – otherwise you end up with a bunch of junior reps generating their own accounts and writing their own emails, and thinking that the only way to improve performance is even more emails and phone calls. Meanwhile, Account Based Sales in isolation results in sales executives doing their own prospecting without any support or leverage, which is expensive and inefficient.

None of these disciplines work in isolation – as TOPO says, coordination is the mandate.

Hello, Account Based Everything!

For all these reasons, we believe leading companies will embrace a new idea: Account Based Everything.

Our definition of Account Based Everything is:

“A strategic go-to-market approach that orchestrates personalized marketing, sales, and success efforts to land and expand at named accounts.”

The key concept here is coordinating relevant interactions that span multiple players in the account (decision makers + influencers), channels (email + phone + social + demand gen) and departments (marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success). When you can do that, the results will always be greater than individual departments working in isolation.

As Craig Rosenberg of TOPO writes:

“B2B organizations are rapidly shifting from horizontal demand generation and sales efforts to a hyper focus on high value target accounts. Our research reveals a key insight: this isn’t about account-based marketing campaigns or sales tactics, this is Account Based Everything: the coordination of marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success efforts to drive engagement and conversion at key target accounts. Adopters of an Account Based Everything strategy are seeing significant lift in engagement rates, pipeline per account, and upsell/cross-sell numbers.”

Announcing Engagio PlayMaker

Account Based Everything sounds good, right? But until now, all the tools were built to support just Marketing or just Sales, making Account Based Everything a challenge.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce our new, flagship product: Engagio PlayMaker! With PlayMaker, you can:

  • Orchestrate plays across departments and channels. Unlike tools focused only on the sales development team, with PlayMaker you can orchestrate multi-step plays that span channels and departments, using tasks and approvals to make sure everyone stays coordinated and sales and marketing stay aligned.
  • Embrace multi-player account-based communications. PlayMaker coordinates communications from everyone on your team to everyone at the target account, so you build relationships with multiple contacts at multiple levels at a time.
  • Send more human emails. Don’t risk your relationship with the key people at important accounts by sending them generic, automated emails. With PlayMaker, each email is personalized, reviewed, and sent by a human to drive more meaningful connections.

Learn More

Want to learn more about Engagio PlayMaker (and our other new product, Engagio Insights)?

PlayMaker screenshot

What do you think? Is it time to embrace Account Based Everything and say goodbye to standalone Account Based Marketing?

Jon Miller
Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and founder of Engagio. Previously, Jon was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and is on the Board of Scripted and is an advisor to Optimizely and Newscred. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

12 Responses to “Hello, Account Based Everything (and Goodbye, Account Based Marketing)”

May 04, 2016 at 5:41 pm, Lars Nilsson said:

The more B2B companies realize the power of an Account Based strategy, the sooner all of us (prospects/buyers/customers) begin receiving all things more relevant to them. Communicating & Coordinating the the right message, to the right person, at the right account, at the right time takes focus & skill. At Cloudera we developed ABSD to do just that, but we were doing it with a complex technology stack. Looks like Jon Miller and Engagio are bringing an integrated architecture approach to all things Account Based. Smart move

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May 04, 2016 at 8:29 pm, Jon Miller said:

Thanks Lars for such a great comment. You are helping to lead the Account Based revolution, so it means alot coming from you!

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May 05, 2016 at 3:26 am, Brett Rafuse said:

Account Based Everything…LOVE IT! B2B companies need to expand beyond the linear concepts of a demand funnel and start to react to the context of interactions with their accounts. Having Sales, Marketing, and Service become responsive to both micro-events and the macro-trends of engagement across multiple players is a win for customers and businesses.

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May 06, 2016 at 4:24 pm, Jon Miller said:

Brett — we agree! The challenge we’ve found is that it’s hard to coordinate all the interactions across those departments. That’s why we need solutions like PlayMaker to help with the orchestration process!

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May 09, 2016 at 1:54 am, Anthony Steen said:

Loved the presentation at the Growth Marketing Conference. Very well, done, especially the sneakers with the suit 😉 PlayMaker sounds like a great way to bridge the gap between the functional units of the biz, and ensure success for the client/customer.

I loved the idea of the Tiers. 1:1, 1:N, and 1:everyone else. I think this goes particularly well with 80/20 and the fractal nature of the power law.

I’m trying to come up with a pitch to my CEO about how 20% of his customers are willing to spend 4x (tier 3), 5% 16x (tier 2, 1:N), and 1% 64x (tier 1, 1:1 done-4-u solution).

The only way to do this is through active ABE management. The idea being to shift away from product and more towards a customer focus.

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May 13, 2016 at 6:58 pm, Jon Miller said:

Thanks Anthony for the kudos on the snazzy shoes.. and for the comment. Tiering your accounts and focusing on the top ones are definitely key parts of account-centric thinking!

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May 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm, Tracy Eiler said:

This is a powerful C-level message. I can imagine every dimension of questions coming from CEO, CRO, even CFO to the leadership team — “what are we doing to give our customers a 360 experience for once and for all”. Well done on the message. We’ll continue to beat the drum!

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May 13, 2016 at 11:27 pm, Jon Miller said:

Thanks, Tracy — you, more than anyone, know the importance of getting Marketing and Sales aligned around a common goal. We can’t do that if all our account-based activities are silo’d into departments.

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May 19, 2016 at 1:59 pm, Rob Leavitt said:

Thanks Jon – Great post! Not sure we’re ready to leave the ABM name behind (as I’m sure you can appreciate!), but I totally agree that the larger orchestration issue is essential, especially as we move to everything as a service and focus much more on customer adoption, value, success, and expansion. Tools are never the whole answer, but I’m looking forward to learning more about PlayMaker, which seems like a great step forward.

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May 20, 2016 at 12:05 am, Jon Miller said:

Yeah, you have more than a little invested in ABM! But it sounds like we agree, when marketing and sales and sales development collaborate, the account-centric strategy will always be better!

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September 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm, Mareo McCracken said:

Thanks for all of your incredible education and content. Looking forward to utilizing PlayMaker in the future. The more we focus on serving “the 1” the better our relationships and outcomes become. Account Based strategy is really the only logical way to service “the 1”. Once each client trusts us and knows we understand them then the rest is a bit easier.

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September 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm, Jon Miller said:

Thank you for the comment! The 1:1 future is coming, the companies that embrace it will thrive!

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