What is ABX? Part 2 Why ABX is the Answer
This is part 2 in answering the question, what is ABX? In part 1, we explained the problems that ABX addresses. In part 2, we go into what ABX is, but first, why is ABM so effective?
Why ABM Is Taking Hold
There are many definitions of Account-based Marketing. In our view, ABM is about three things:
- Identifying accounts who are in-market for your solution
- Focusing attention on the accounts that are the best fit for your business
- Targeting the buyer collective at these accounts in a personalized way
Identifying who is in-market is made possible through the use of intent data. We will dive into this more deeply later in the book. Intent data is like magic that provides signals about accounts who are researching information related to your solution. There are many types of intent data, but third-party sources like Bombora have gained much attention.
Based on these signals, you can narrow down which accounts within your target account list should get the most attention.
You then run sales and marketing campaigns that can be tailored to these accounts more precisely than a mass campaign to your entire target account list.
For example, the entire hospital market may be fair game for your solution if you are selling a virtual hospital solution. However, using intent data may ascertain that only 5% of hospitals are actively researching this topic.
So, rather than market to the entire market with a more generalized message, you can develop a much more precisely targeted and aggressively focused campaign for the 5% who are in-market.
And it truly works.
Why ABX Is The Future
If you have been using ABM as a better way to generate demand, now is the time to think bigger. Not only how can you use the principles of ABM to acquire customers, but how can ABM underpin a better end-to-end growth model?
This is ABX.
So what the heck is ABX?
Demandbase defines it as:
“Account-based experience (ABX) is a go-to-market strategy that uses data and insights to orchestrate relevant, trusted marketing and sales actions throughout the B2B customer journey.”
The first part of this sentence describes ABM. The key is the end of the sentence: “throughout the B2B customer journey.”
In our view, ABX is also about using ABM techniques to acquire customers but goes beyond that. ABX includes how you grow that customer once you have acquired them and how you turn them into evangelists for your business. It also includes identifying at-risk customers and getting them back on track.
In the previous chapter, we referred to a couple of buyer journeys developed by Demandbase and the Conference Executive Board (CEB), now part of Gartner. They are both helpful ways of thinking about the process an individual and a buyer committee or buyer collective go through to buy a solution.
The problem with both of these buyer journeys is that they are incomplete.
As sales and marketing people, we tend to think about the customer journey ending when the deal is signed. To us, this is the finish line. To our customers, this is the starting line. When a buyer goes through this process, they are not thinking about the job being done when they select you as their partner, they look at this as the start of a long-term relationship.
If this were a marriage, it’s as if we think about developing a relationship until the wedding. After that it’s someone else’s problem. Our customers think about the wedding day as the start of a marriage.
The Total Buyer Journey
We would like to propose a more complete way of looking at the buyer journey, the way a buyer thinks about their relationship with you.
You can see that the blue line starts with the typical buyer journey phases, where the buyer goes through a process to define what the problem is and how to solve it. They then evaluate vendors and make a decision.
Then they go through an onboarding process to learn how to use your solution, integrate it with other systems, train their teams and grow adoption. They are then using the solution day-to-day (hopefully), and as your solution becomes embedded in their organization, they expand use. This includes adding more users, adding features, upgrading etc.
Lastly, as they use your solution and work with your firm, they develop opinions about you and share those with others. This influence can be negative or positive (and neutral too).
Organizations tend to think and act in silos. Marketing is primarily responsible for the early part of the buyer journey, sales is responsible for the middle, and customer success is responsible for the relationship after the deal is closed. Marketing brings people to the door, sales gets them to come into the house, and customer success is responsible once they are inside.
Account-based marketing (ABM) supports the marketing and sales phases of the buyer journey. And over the last decade, it has proven to be a very effective strategy in this regard. Account-based Experience (ABX) spans the entire customer journey, and in addition to helping win new accounts, it can help you grow your existing business. We will go into how shortly.
This changes the focus from new customer acquisition to lifetime customer value. It changes the way sales, marketing, and customer success operate. It puts as much value on customer satisfaction as the sales pipeline. And it puts as much attention on turning customers into positive advocates as it does on generating demand at the front of the process. It also emphasizes the role of marketing in helping to upsell.
Lastly, ABX is about thinking about finding and growing highly profitable relationships with the right customers.
As a marketer, what does not change is focusing on getting the right message in front of the right customer at the right time.
In part 1, we described Why ABM had taken hold; in part 2, we described what ABX is. In future posts, we will go into How to implement it and a framework we have developed for this.