C’mon. Just between us. Should I do this?
I like what I’ve heard about account-based so far, but it sounds like…
- …I’m supposed to just walk away from my existing eCommerce business?
- …more than my company can handle right now.
Relax. It’s not even like that.
By now you’ve heard how everyone’s finally starting to use marketing automation technology to enable more than massive funnel metrics. Account-based is a return to classic, business relationship building. Sitting down for no pressure, one-on-one meetings with a prospects sounds great–who doesn’t want to spend their days playing golf and sipping martinis with likeminded others who write us checks?
But the technology and processes often paired with the account-based discussion present some legitimate opportunity costs. With so many people all-in, it can feel a bit intimidating. The good news is, if you already see the power of alignment around being a customer hero—but don’t see your business model radically changing overnight—you can begin building a hybrid account-based approach with a single target account experiment.
Hybrid Account-Based in 1 Week (through 4 meetings)
Let’s try something a little different. Consider it a proof of concept. Schedule a series of meetings around your account-based experiment. You want Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Product involved in these at a minimum—knowing executive buy-in and participation is both customary and highly recommended.
In the first meeting, bring everyone up to speed. Introduce the experiment. You’re diving deep into your best customer accounts, figuring out what makes them tick, and then using that information to identify similar target accounts you can go after in an account-based manner.
In the second meeting, dive deep into your best customer accounts. You want everyone to leave this meeting with a clear understanding of what makes an ideal account. Document everything you know these accounts have in common. Size, location, revenue, industry/niche, age, business model, personality—who on your team engaged with whom on their team—the works.
Develop super specific descriptions of those businesses; who was involved with those deals, when they were involved, the problems solved for them, and what their results look like. Compare these details between half a dozen of your best accounts to establish a super accurate description of your ideal customer profile.
This is where you start building your playbook. Who was involved in the first interaction with the existing account? What did that involvement look like? Document this. Document every repeatable action taken across your organization—and with the account’s. Again, who engaged with whom, when and where? You want to repeat those plays with your target account.
The third meeting is all about identifying target accounts and data gaps. If you’ve done your homework, the team will come to this meeting with a short list of target accounts very similar to the best in your current portfolio. Stuff like, Alaskan fishing and tourism charters with at least five boats and 20 employees, 5-10 years old, realizing at least $50k MRR and growing. With that level of insight into your target accounts, pick the one you know the most about to try an account-based approach on.
Now you dive deep into this target account, identifying the data gaps, and collaborating around filling in those blanks. Who did Sales personally engage with—when and where—on the example account you’ve already closed? Who should they engage with on this target account? Answer the same questions for everyone involved. Account-based is all about doing more of what’s worked best in the past.
In the final meeting of the week, use your new account-based strategy to develop a tactical game plan based on the plays from the second meeting back on Wednesday. Marketing can sketch up a basic, side hustle content plan to get your brand on the target’s radar and schedule some design time around customizing the previously delivered report for the new account. Make sure everyone has access to the playbook and will be notified when they need to execute those plays.
Side Hustle ABM
Anyone telling you to walk away from your existing, proven revenue streams because account-based is some kind of miracle cure-all for every business is full of shit. But if something about account-based resonates with you, it’s worth running an experiment or two.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, a side hustle is typically a business idea you develop on the side. Your company might not be ready to go all-in on account-based, but you should be ready to explore your existing data sets, surface actionable insights, and test a theory or two.
Just between us? You should totally try this.
The elephant in the room: I know this post suggests a lot. First, that you can adopt a hybrid account-based approach in one week, and second, that you should pull a number of people into several hours of meetings to do so.
Here’s the rub, though. You can read account-based blog posts and white papers all day, everyday. You can sit through hours upon hours of webinar slide decks explaining plays in depth.
Until you’ve rolled up your sleeves and looked at your own business and data from an account-based perspective, you can only guess at how involved implementing account-based would be for your organization.
These are exciting times. This is exciting stuff. Run an experiment or two on the side to see where you’re strong—and where you could use a little help. Worst that could happen is you get a deeper understanding of your best customers. And isn’t that always a good thing?