Sales. Marketing. Customer success.
What do these three teams have in common?
They’re all focused on one thing: revenue.
You’ve probably already heard of account-based marketing (ABM). It’s a marketing strategy that takes a customer-centric approach in which marketing and sales work together to define, target, and sell to specific companies, or accounts.
Instead of selling to one person, you’re selling to multiple roles within one company.
Well, folks, it’s time to take ABM to the next level.
Now that we’re in the revenue era, we’re way past sales and marketing alignment. Sales, marketing, and customer success need to work together across the customer lifecycle to accelerate revenue.
If you’d rather watch my presentation on this topic, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡
What is Account-Based Engagement?
Traditional lead generation is volume-based.
You go after everyone – anyone who will answer the phone.
That spray-and-pray approach will get you some sales, but it won’t build relationships.
Account-based engagement (ABE) drives value by shifting the focus from campaign performance and the number of leads generated to the quality of engagement, growth in opportunities, increase in revenue, and success within key accounts.
An account-based engagement strategy captures the requirements needed to deliver highly personalized and integrated pre- and post-sales customer experience, aligning marketing, sales, and customer service to win accounts, retain customers, and grow sales through targeted and personalized engagement.
It’s zeroing in on the most important accounts and how they interact with your business at every stage in the customer lifecycle.
A successful ABE strategy will deliver:
- Stronger sales and marketing alignment
- Faster pipeline growth
- Higher close rates
- Better customer retention
And I’m going to tell you exactly how to make it happen.
7 Steps to Align Your Go-to-Market Teams and Accelerate Revenue with Account-Based Engagement
You spend so much time acquiring new customers and gaining their trust. But the least expensive customer to acquire is one you already have.
If you don’t believe me, try this quick experiment. Look at your email open rates across customers vs. prospects. There’s a high probability your current customers open your emails more frequently – they’re already engaged with you, making any emails you send to them already a higher ROI.
If you put the same level of effort on renewals, upsell, and retention that you do on acquisition with top accounts, you’ll see an immediate impact.
So, how do you get started with account-based engagement? It starts with three core skills:
- Account identification and prioritization
- Engagement and personalization
- Execution and performance tracking
…and understanding all three of these pre AND post-sale. Here are seven steps to align your go-to-market teams and accelerate revenue with account-based engagement 👇
Account-Based Engagement Phase 1: Marketing Defines the Audience and Engages Them
One of the golden rules of marketing? Know your audience.
If you’re going to go after your existing customers, you need to know everything about them.
1. Gain a deep understanding of your target accounts
You may have thousands of customers, but we all know that only a small percentage of them drive the majority of your revenue. These are the golden customers: the ones who love your product, love working with your team, and love telling people about you.
You want to put the customer at the center of everything you do. But not just any customer. Your best customers.
Account-based engagement starts with defining those ideal customers and what makes them different from the rest of the addressable market. At Drift, we use firmographic and technographic information to create a broad account list of customers we want to go after and then a dream account list – we call it the Drift 250 list – which we treat in a much more personalized way through the customer journey.
You want to pull together your own data and then data that’s publicly available – digital fingerprints like employee headcount, industry, intent – that show whether or not they’re a good fit for your business, and whether or not they may be already interested in what you have to offer.
2. Identify the buying committee and stakeholders
You’re not selling to one person. You’re selling to a committee.
When you’re selling to an account, you can’t just rely on one contact. You need to understand what each person on the committee needs from your product, and what objections they have that happen behind-the-scenes.
That’s why account-based engagement matters. If you’re already tracking your top accounts, then you’ll notice how many different people come to your website and what they’re engaging with. How deeply are they researching your products? Are they looking at pricing? Have you seen different people come into the website multiple times this week from the same account?
That’s a completely different ballgame than one person visiting your site.
Selling in real-time means understanding the entire landscape. Prioritize reaching out to those accounts and tailoring outreach to get the buying committee together based on the incoming data.
Because that is what makes your sales motions repeatable and predictable.
3. Reinvent the website with buyer-level personalization
Personalization isn’t new.
But it’s not about <First Name> anymore. It’s about using the data you already know to deliver a smooth handoff from marketing to sales, so sales has all the information they need.
Is this lead coming from an email? From social media? From a paid ad? From content?
You have to personalize at the buyer level, not just at the account level.
Knowing how they arrived at your site allows you to better target them with the information they’re looking for. If you already know who they are and their email address, why would you ask for that again?
That’s where Drift comes in. Greet them with personalized messaging and then route them to the salesperson that’s most going to help them.
Not only does this deliver a better experience for your prospects and customers, but it also gives you more ROI from your marketing channels. Whether you’re spending a lot of money on paid ads or a lot of time on your email marketing, adding this layer of personalization on your website increases your conversion rate.
Account-Based Engagement Phase 2: Get Sales as Close to the Buyer as Possible
The closer sales can get to the buyer, the faster deals close.
It’s that simple.
But to do it right, you need to set your sales team up for success.
4. Sell in real-time
The marketing-to-sales handoff at Drift is pretty seamless. Marketing personalizes the visitor experience based on the customer journey.
Then, when the right account comes through, we can say, “Hey, salesperson, you have one of your accounts visiting that page.”
If they’re available, they jump in and react to that website visit in real-time.
If they’re not available, they can still react in real-time.
That’s the whole point of chatbots. Quickly schedule a follow-up meeting or navigate them to the right place on the website so you’re still delivering a positive experience.
You have layers to fall back on in terms of how the engagement should unfold – treating each account in a personalized way. It may be a human-to-human conversation in real-time, a chatbot engagement, or a personalized follow-up based on customer website behavior.
That’s what a good company’s engagement strategy does.
5. Create a predictable pipeline – for new business and expansion
You can tell if a deal is more likely to close…and whether or not it’s going to deliver more customer lifetime revenue based on 6sense’s intent scores.
Act on the data-driven insights that create consistent wins for your team. Whether you’re booking new pipeline or expanding existing revenue opps, you need to be able to predict what’s coming next.
Identify a path to revenue and ensure a healthy pipeline by combining 6sense’s intent scores with People.ai’s predictive deal health and key indicators. Don’t figure out what leads matter. Figure out which opportunities are moving forward — and what accounts are ready for the next step — and build that into a model that more predictably manages your pipeline.
Account-Based Engagement Phase 3: Recognize That Customer Success = Everyone’s Success
But a predictable pipeline is only part of the story.
The difference between ABM and ABE is about managing the post-sales side, too.
You want to monitor your current customers just as much as your prospects. Those same target accounts? You’re going to want to make sure they’re consuming your content, taking your certification courses, watching your training videos, joining your community.
And you’re going to want your customer success team or account managers responding and engaging with them accordingly.
If you’re already investing in the marketing and sales tools to do this target account engagement pre-sale, you can extend that into the rest of the customer lifecycle relatively easily.
It’s the same process. Just later in the cycle.
6. Use customer success for referrals, stories, and advocacy
Referrals and customer stories should be part of the entire revenue experience.
Customer stories are one of the most effective pieces of content you can create. Marketing loves it. Sales loves it. Your customers love it.
Your customer success team shouldn’t just be talking to customers that need help. They should be leading the charge on cultivating deeper customer relationships.
They’re the ones plugged into how your products really impact your customer’s day-to-day lives. Account-based engagement means following up after the sale to make sure that customer gets the most value from what you have to offer.
When you elevate the success of your customers, everyone wins. And it starts the cycle all over again with your next dream account.
Account-Based Engagement Phase 4: Create a Culture of Collaboration Through Shared Goals and Campaigns
Account-based engagement means acting as one unified team for your customer.
The entire team is responsible for making customers successful.
And that translates to real dollars. According to SiriusDecisions, companies that align their revenue teams see 15% higher profitability and 19% faster revenue growth.
Retention and upsell are the key levers that are going to accelerate your revenue.
You can’t keep filling a leaky bucket and hope for the best.
For account-based engagement to work, you have to hold each team accountable for pipeline, revenue, and retention.
7a. Each team owns the same metrics
Those are the only metrics that matter.
Yes, of course you can drill down and look at the specific engagement and conversion metrics. Marketing is still going to want to see email opens or social media follows. Sales is still going to want to measure meetings scheduled. Customer success is still going to want to measure response times.
But if you don’t hit pipeline, revenue, and retention together, you all lose.
Stop setting different goals for different teams.
Stop fighting over who gets the credit.
When you can align your sales and marketing team together to be working towards a shared goal, you’re going to get far better outcomes.
Case in point: I join five to 10 sales calls a week. Yes, I know marketing is in my title. But I do that because I’m responsible for putting together content, events, and our community. To do that well, I need to understand how marketing can best support sales in moving customers from, “Hey, I’m looking for a way to accelerate my revenue,” to “Drift is the solution for me.”
Our content is one piece of the puzzle that builds trust, showcases our products, and drives interest in what we have to offer. And if I don’t know what customers care about or how they talk to sales, I’ll never be able to build content that resonates with them. I’m listening to what buyers care about the most, and then creating content and programs that feed right into the sales team’s hands.
7b. …and works on the same campaigns
That’s exactly why our teams all work against the same campaigns. There’s no such thing as “marketing campaigns” or “sales campaigns” at Drift. It’s a team-wide integrated campaign.
Go all in.
Each month, we choose a different focus–that all of our teams rally behind.
Account-based engagement is about finding value across the entire customer journey and aligning revenue teams.
Because when you focus on revenue, you focus on driving real business impact.