The latest Substribe breakfast club explored account based go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Meaning, take a considered view of strategic accounts and creating appropriate one to one, one to few, and one to many approaches to convert them.
About high performing subscriptions
High performing b2b subscription teams focus on their ideal customers. They obsess about the outcomes those ideal customers desire. But this requires 3 essential steps:
Step 1: Agreeing who the ideal customer is
Step 2: Defining the experience your service can deliver from nurture through to renewal and expansion
Step 3: Delivering the expected experience and the customer outcome
These three steps build up evidence of the value your service brings to the table. By evidencing the value of your service, you light a beacon for other ideal customers. This places retention at the heart of acquisition strategy, defending and differentiating accounts.
So how do you create the right experience for your ideal customer from the start (before they are customers)? How do you help them to consider buying – and keep on buying – from you?
You define and design the ideal customer into your go to market strategy.
How to use an account based go to market strategy
Create a go to market team who focus on ideal customers who are making the right signals for approach. This is not a campaign or tactic.
1. Align your marketing, sales, ops and customer success teams on the ideal customer, sharing revenue based goals (not leads).
2. Target quality accounts, carving out time effort and resources to be proactive.
3. Share intelligence across the team using consistent language and frameworks.
4. Seek context from team members who have contact with the customer to expand on the intelligence.
5. Measure for quality not quantity. Focus on being more efficient and less wasteful in the pipeline. This is about conversion, not lead generation.
6. Create and use data and insights to help inform what works and what doesn’t. Loop it.
Take a look at this framework for account based experience (ABX):
Discussion points during the Breakfast Club
1. Customers have different needs and buying styles. It is important to understand the intent and target different personas. Do this within a framework of your ideal customers – not any old account.
2. Closeness and communication between marketing and sales is critical. Talking to each other and sharing stories create useful insights, helping communicate value.
3. Use non-sales people in commercial calls with customers. For example, marketers have a total view across all accounts. This can lead to convincing narratives for prospective customers.
4. Account based strategy is often led by marketing, but it is most effective across functions. Go to market teams must huddle often to progress target accounts. Probe: Where are the gaps in the client’s decision making unit? How can we move people from one stage to the next? What’s working and what’s not?
5. It’s often better to shift mindset by running a pilot with a small team and small group of accounts. Selling a new approach like account based strategy to sales people is a challenge. So, pilot with a progressive sales person and use success to carve out the way forward.
Building the Ideal Customer Profile
We reviewed this starting point for the ideal customer profile
Selecting and segmenting your target accounts
FIRE is one way to select and segment target accounts (source: demandbase)
- FIT – are they in your Ideal customer profile?
- INTENT – are they showing interest in your products/competitors?
- RELATIONSHIP – context and history – what do we know about them already?
- ENGAGEMENT – are they engaging with your company/content/website already?
There are useful frameworks to help plot the accounts to take a one to one approach, one to few and one to many, for example:
To pilot the approach
1. Build the account based team (include sales/marketing/ops/customer success) – they need to behave as a leadership team. This is great to test out your high potentials.
2. Take a few accounts from your ideal customer list and prove the success (or learn from flaws in your approach before rolling it out)
3. Roll out when you see an impact from your customer perspective – have you helped them to figure out the value in engaging with your organisation?
4. Create measurements to support the strategy – how many target accounts have we got in our pipeline? How long is it taking to move them along the stages of nurture to conversion to renewal? Do we know the decision making unit / where are the gaps?
Beyond the pilot
1. Account based approach is not a quick fix. You are doing this for long term gains, to target your best potential customers for lifetime value.
2. The return on effort should be a more clear view of behaviours that predict buying activity. This is based on what existing customers did in the same stages – to highlight who else to target.
3. Once you have your account list in place, keep reviewing it. It’s never “done” – update the list based on the conversations and insights you gather.
Our group shared their thoughts on where they will start.
- “We will review our customer spend to identify the biggest spenders and those who are missing who we would expect to be there.”
- “We have a highly manual approach, so we will map the process and get buy in from key people way before we make a decision about investing in technology.”
- “We will use our existing accounts and those who got away, to get a baseline measure of the impact of key principles like having an engaged decision making unit – what impact did it have/not have on pipeline, sales cycle and retention.”