Account-Based Customer Success: The Refrain Remains the Same
I come to the Account Based Everything movement as a long-time proponent. I had a special opportunity to learn Sales early on from a mentor that practiced many of the non-technology tenets of ABE – accounting for multiple stakeholders, personalizing messages by function and role, coordinating multi-modal follow-up as an integrated account plan, all against a named list of target – ideal – accounts.
These things have always made sense. The fast innovation taking place in sales enablement technology has served as rocket fuel and turned this into the movement it’s become, adding both efficiency and reach at an exciting pace.
Now I live in Customer Success, where our strategic accounts team is applying a “starter kit” version of ABE in our best accounts. We have identified a list of Customers where value has been captured and ROI is impressive, but where we also feel a more strategic level of relationship is waiting to happen.
We uploaded those best customers, figured out what they look like, modeled our best target process, then built out a wider list of addressable market, all by employing our own tools that we offer for Customers (AccountView and DealPredict in particular). It’s early still, but we are huddled with Marketing to align on personalized messaging, with Customer Success to ensure a coordinated Team approach alongside our existing account managers, and with Sales Operations to execute relevant touchpoint cadences.
What are we learning so far? That the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Org Charts and Reliable Contact Data are All-Important
The bigger an entity, the more complex the task of finding out who makes the decision, who influences it, who shepherds the buying process, and how all these stakeholders fit together. This is need-to-know, and while a CSM could get there on his/her own, it would eat far too many cycles to make it worth it.
You know that feeling when you dump a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle out on the table for the first time, and you think “need those corners”? Same thing. Where cultivating relationships in whale accounts is concerned, the battle really is won or lost before it’s ever fought. Lao Tzu had it right.
The Grind is Still the Grind
You might have recently seen a joint study by DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools of 200 sales and marketing organizations that found:
- High-growth companies (defined as those with at least 40% growth over the past three years) are 2.5 times more likely to have adopted an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy
High-growth companies are twice as likely to have successful cold calling programs as well as a dedicated outbound prospecting team.
The takeaway here that my team is experiencing is consistent with that second point. Sure, we’re working existing Customer accounts. And sometimes, our points of contact are happy to intro us into other departments and functions that might similarly benefit from our offering.
A lot more of the time, our existing contacts are busy with their own priorities, and so, if we want fast growth to happen, we better show up each day and hit the phones. Nobody at a high-growth company is sitting around eulogizing the “cold” call, and neither are we. Embrace it.
We All Share a Uniqueness in Common
To earn the right to grow alongside a strategic customer, it’s not enough to just source your offering to them. Instead, you have to partner with them, and this only happens if you develop account insights, listen to unique challenges, and solve problems.
Ideally, the fresh perspective you bring to your customers should help them learn about their own businesses by harnessing your “mile deep” expertise. At DiscoverOrg, this might take the form of a data enrichment and matching exercise, a custom buildout to support changes in a go-to-market strategy, or something as simple as a workshop on how to overcome email deliverability issues or how to write email sequences for a drip campaign.
In any case, success comes through understanding what’s unique about your customer’s struggle and developing a strategy that allows your solution to play a key role in solving their problem.
While we have so many other aspects of ABE to grow into as a Customer Success team, it’s comforting to realize early on that the tried-and-true habits that got us here are still critical strengths for what lies ahead.