Account-Based…Everything: Using the Principles of ABM to Strengthen Customer Relationships and Reduce Churn

account-based marketing

Account-based Marketing (ABM) has changed the way marketers think. But the applications of ABM shouldn’t be limited to marketing. By viewing client relationships through the lens of account-based everything (ABE), you can strengthen customer relationships and improve retention.

What is ABM?

ABM posits that the role of marketing is to create demand for products and services from an account, not just from a single individual. An account consists of an entire ecosystem of contacts (people) at a company. It’s the responsibility of marketing to build influence with as many decision makers as possible so sales can step in and work its magic.

Why Stop At Marketing?

Account-based Marketing is just a piece of a bigger puzzle, though. Ultimately, the goal of the business is to generate a sale. So that means ABM is just part of account-based selling (ABS). The end game is to sell new business into an account — into an entire business — not one person.

But wait! The sale isn’t actually the endgame, either. The customer relationship is still taking shape at the point of sale. Whether you sell a product or service, you have to deliver on your contracted promise and make your customer as satisfied and successful as possible. Often times, the folks you’re delivering your product or service to aren’t even the ones you initially marketed and sold to. But, they’re part of the company — part of the account. Your ability to generate a renewal or gain further traction in an account through the sale of additional products or services depends on how well you manage the account and the various relationships within the account.

Account-Based Everything

As a result, ABM and ABS are part of an even bigger picture. Jon Miller at Engagio (formerly of Marketo fame) coined this ABE – Account Based Everything. ABE is how you manage the entire customer lifecycle. From first impression (marketing, social media, etc.), through the sales process, through implementation or delivery (professional services, consulting, project management, etc.), through ongoing training and support, and even through billing and collections. Throughout the lifecycle, every one of these functions or departments will touch and interact with the customer.

In other words, the customer experience isn’t owned by one person. It’s owned by a collection of individuals and functions within your organization. But you’re the one on the hook to ensure your account doesn’t churn.

Understanding the collective experience a customer has with your business is difficult. The most widely adopted customer experience metrics deliver insights about individuals, not accounts. NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys track satisfaction from a single individual at a given point in time. Product usage and adoption data can help you understand if your product is sticky, but it doesn’t give you an indication of client health or satisfaction. Support-issued CSAT (customer satisfaction) surveys indicate an individual’s level of satisfaction with a particular issue, but may not be reflective of broader sentiment across the account.  

Account-Based Churn (ABC)

If you’re an account manager or customer success manager, you’re responsible for the health — and ultimately the renewal — of an account. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of every interaction every individual at that account has with your company, and the outcome and resulting sentiment each interaction produced.

It’s an impossible task. There’s no way you can keep your finger on the pulse of every client contact. There’s not enough time in the day to pour through every ticket, note, and statistic in the many different customer relationship management tools you use. You certainly can’t spend your entire day talking to every person who’s had interactions with the folks at your account.

Unfortunately, you do need to know everything if you want to avoid account-based churn (ABC). If a client cancels over an issue you didn’t even know about, it’s not your fault — but it’s your responsibility.

So, how are you supposed to resolve this dilemma? You need to be responsible for every aspect of an account, yet you can’t possibly devote the necessary time and resources. That’s why it’s essential to utilize technology that can automatically capture the information you need and provide insights on the account as a whole.

Ultimately, the key to avoiding churn is strong customer relationships. The only difference with ABC is that the relationship is with an entire account, not one person. Once you view customer relationships through this lens, you can start to make the appropriate steps to safeguard against account-based churn.

See how having the right customer analytics can help you move towards account-based everything and reduce customer churn.


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