Traditional marketing and sales approaches are no longer sufficient to drive sustainable revenue growth. Instead, revenue teams must adapt to new strategies and tactics that align with the complex B2B buying cycles and customer expectations. One new strategy gaining momentum is Account-Based Orchestration (ABX), which represents the next evolution of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). ABX offers a tightly integrated and holistic methodology that combines the strengths of marketing and sales teams and aligns their activities to generate superior results. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of account-based orchestration and how it can revolutionize revenue generation.
The State of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Today
In the ever-evolving world of B2B marketing, traditional lead generation approaches have become less effective. To overcome this challenge, many organizations have shifted their focus towards Account-Based Marketing (ABM). ABM is a strategic approach that targets high-value accounts and engages key stakeholders within those accounts through personalized and targeted campaigns. Generally, Account-Based Marketing is divided into three key steps:
- Collaborative Definition of Target Account Criteria: Marketing and sales teams collaborate to define the characteristics of ideal target accounts, frequently known as Ideal Customer Profile, or ICP. This involves identifying specific industries, company sizes, geographic locations, or other relevant criteria that align with the organization's objectives. By aligning on the target account criteria, marketing and sales ensure that resources are concentrated on pursuing the companies with the most realistic likelihood of generating revenue
- Account Selection and Personalization: Once the target account criteria are defined, marketing generates a list of these accounts. This list serves as the foundation for personalized and highly targeted campaigns. Marketing teams employ various tactics, such as email, content and digital (including social media, search engine, and display) marketing, to reach the key decision-makers and influencers within the target accounts. The goal is to create tailored messages and content that resonate with the specific pain points and challenges of each account and, ideally, personas within those accounts.
- Coordination and Nurturing: As targeting marketing activities ramp up, sales teams now work in parallel to connect with inbound prospects who respond to the campaigns and tailor outbound messaging to be consistent, personalized, and aligned with the targeted criteria and messages.
The Evolution to Account-Based Orchestration (ABX)
While ABM can be effective in generating quality leads from target accounts, it has its limitations. First, ABM often focuses on the early stages of the customer journey, primarily generating inbound interest. However, as B2B buying cycles have become more complex, a more integrated and holistic approach is needed to optimize revenue generation. Additionally, the tactics, while often conducted in parallel with sales teams, often operate independently of outbound techniques. This results in inefficient resource allocation and a higher rate of dropped or missed leads than may otherwise be necessary.
Account-Based Orchestration (ABX) builds upon the foundation of Account-based Marketing but adds several new dimensions to enhance its effectiveness. ABX is a more tightly integrated and comprehensive approach to revenue generation, emphasizing ongoing collaboration between sales and marketing, rigorous quantitative analysis, and intelligent, responsive, and automated tactic routing.
The ABX Framework
The ABX framework incorporates several key elements to drive successful revenue generation:
- Account Targeting: Instead of a binary target/not-target designation, ABX involves segmenting accounts into tiers based on strategic importance. Tier 1 represents the strongest and most strategic accounts, while tier 3 encompasses the minimally viable customer profile. ABX allows for a more tailored approach, where higher-tier accounts receive higher levels of personalization and investment and lower tiers err towards more automation and lighter touch
- Contact Persona Targeting: Within each account tier, marketing and sales teams collaborate to define target buying committee profiles. This involves identifying the key personas and roles within the target accounts who influence the buying decisions, which can be done through reviewing sales calls, interviewing customers, and conducting market research. By understanding the characteristics and pain points of each persona, marketing can create targeted messages and content that resonate with the specific needs of the individuals involved in the buying process.
- Account and Contact Lists: Under the ABX framework, marketing generates account lists for each tier based on the defined characteristics. Additionally, contact lists are developed, mapping each account to specific personas within the target buying committee. This meticulous approach ensures that marketing efforts are focused on the individuals who are most likely to contribute to a successful sale.
- Integrated Selling Strategy: Unlike ABM, which primarily focuses on inbound tactics, ABX encompasses both outbound and inbound tactics. Marketing and sales teams collaborate to develop an integrated selling strategy for each account tier and persona. This includes defining specific action plans and timing of tactics within accounts but across personas. The objective is to create a seamless customer journey with relevant touchpoints throughout the process.
- Dynamic Routing and Engagement: ABX introduces dynamic routing behavior based on contact and account-level engagement triggers. When contacts show interest and engagement, they are routed to outbound contact with the Sales Development Representative (SDR) team. Conversely, contacts who are less engaged are nurtured for longer periods to warm them up. The level of personalization and investment varies based on the account tier, ensuring that higher-tier accounts receive higher levels of attention and customization.
The Benefits of ABX
Implementing ABX brings several significant benefits to sales and marketing efforts:
- Higher target account conversion rates: The close alignment between sales and marketing, combined with a tailored approach, leads to substantially higher conversion rates.
- Improved customer acquisition cost: ABX allows for precise spending based on specific personas and relevant tactics. Dynamic routing ensures ongoing investment in the journeys that yield results, ultimately improving cost-effectiveness.
- Enhanced collaboration between sales and marketing: ABX eliminates artificial handoffs and promotes a unified approach, fostering collaboration between sales and marketing teams towards shared objectives.
Challenges of ABX
While the benefits of account-based orchestration are substantial, it is important to acknowledge the challenges associated with its implementation:
- Buy-in and collaboration: Successful ABX implementation requires buy-in and active collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Establishing a culture of shared responsibility is essential and represents a substantial departure from how many go-to-market teams have traditionally operated. This means the top levels of the organization need to champion this change and empower leaders to drive accountability throughout their respective teams
- Quantitative analysis: Deep quantitative analysis of account and contact-level properties is necessary to understand what works and when. This requires robust analytical capabilities, a data-driven approach, and a willingness to take action based upon what the data shows
- Generating high-quality accounts and contacts: The ability to generate a large number of high-quality accounts and associated contacts subject to the applied targeting rules is crucial for ABX success. The depth of research to do this successfully requires substantial time investments to get right.
- Monitoring and dynamic routing: ABX relies on monitoring engagement signals and dynamically routing prospects and accounts to different tactics based on their level of engagement and account tier. If an organization doesn't have the ability to implement dynamic logic into routing, they may struggle to see improvement beyond traditional account-based marketing techniques, as dynamic routing is critical to ensuring both sales and marketing are collaborating in providing the right touchpoint at the right time.
As the business landscape continues to evolve, sales and marketing leaders must adapt their strategies to remain competitive. Account-Based Orchestration offers a powerful framework that combines the strengths of marketing and sales, leveraging collaboration, quantitative analysis, and dynamic routing to drive revenue generation. By implementing ABX, organizations can achieve higher conversion rates, improved cost-effectiveness, and enhanced collaboration between sales and marketing. Embracing ABX will enable businesses to adapt to the ever-changing landscape and thrive in the B2B marketplace.
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