What is ABX?
Account-based experience (ABX) is a go-to-market strategy that uses fit and signal data to create a customer-centric account experience throughout the entire B2B customer journey.
The evolution of the B2B account journey has demanded that to be successful in your go-to-market strategy, you must also be willing to evolve. This reality is especially true for SaaS companies relying on organic growth in 2023 and beyond. In this blog, we’ll discuss the evolution of account-based marketing (ABM) and the value of embracing an account-based experience (ABX) strategy to achieve sustainable growth.
The Evolution from ABM to ABX
As B2B sales and marketing leaders in a rapidly changing market, it’s easy to ignore another acronym, but I’d challenge you to give ABX a chance.
According to Gartner, the digital buying behavior of decision-makers within B2B organizations is shifting rapidly from the traditional sales-led process. To be successful, B2B software organizations must prioritize a digital-first go-to-market approach. This relies on a paradigm shift within current sales organizations and leaders, focusing on creating rich digital experiences over the next five years.
This rich experience must reflect the buyer journey from problem identification to purchase decision to continued adoption – unifying the efforts of all business units (from product to customer success) to create one cohesive, educational journey. Essentially, the future of effective B2B selling lies in creating a tailored, customer-centric account-based strategy, also known as ABX.
What is Traditional ABM?
Simply put, account-based marketing, or ABM, is a go-to-market strategy focused on aligning sales and marketing efforts towards targeting best-fit accounts, creating relevancy and increasing the probability of closed-won. The commonality of these best-fit accounts is often referred to as your ideal customer profile (ICP). An ICP allows organizations to identify and prioritize efforts against accounts with better sales potential.
In a traditional ABM playbook, there are three plays:
- Activate – Create awareness with net new logos utilizing top-of-funnel demand generation
- Accelerate – Accelerate pipeline movement by supporting the sales process
- Expansion – Identifying retention and expansion opportunities within current customers
These playbooks, filled with personalized sales and marketing efforts, follow our best-fit accounts throughout the buyer’s journey, creating a friendly environment that produces better sales outcomes—building a strategy that engages buyers based on known data points and can produce measurable replicable results.
ABM Common Pitfalls
True ABM, at its core, attempts to utilize account-level data-driven insights to push strategy across sales and marketing departments. However, many organizations need help creating the necessary engagement and organizational mindset to succeed.
Some of the most common ABM pitfalls we see in B2B clients include the following:
- Treating ABM as a Channel – Many organizations treat ABM as another marketing tactic, like PPC or SEO, assigning it to a single stakeholder – marketing. This creates a struggle for resources within the marketing department as they try to prove the effectiveness of this new strategy against traditional lead gen channels.
- Grasping at Sales Alignment – Since ABM is often siloed under a CMO or Director of Marketing, sales is often disconnected regarding expectations and engagement.
- Focus on Inappropriate KPIs – Without proper alignment and understanding across an organization, the impact of an ABM strategy is almost always measured against the wrong metrics. ABM is focused on increasing pipeline movement and closed-won deals. Its siloed home under marketing creates confusion with traditional lead-driven KPIs.
- Lack of Stakeholder Support – The most concerning of ABM pitfalls is the lack of stakeholder understanding and support. It is this lack of support that often leads to the reasons why ABM can be dead in the water. When leadership treats ABM as a channel or a single tactic, they fail to engage the entire organization creating an uphill battle for marketing teams that leads to false starts and misaligned success metrics.
While this is not a complete list, these pitfalls can signal major red flags when implementing an ABM strategy and are shared amongst growth-stage companies that have previously relied on product-led growth.
ABM strategy is often siloed within marketing departments, which push to coordinate a basic alignment with sales to ensure that the marketing dollars spent are focused on the accounts that sales are targeting. With customer segmentation at its core, ABM efforts should allow you to increase the relevancy we discussed earlier, creating efficiency throughout your sales process. However, as organizations and the buyer journey evolve, this basic principle of ABM creates a challenge when it comes to execution.
That’s where ABX comes in.
The ABX Paradigm
ABX takes the basic principles of ABM and enhances them to move beyond marketing-driven attempts at personalization and, instead, focuses on creating a complete experience. The shift to an ABX strategy reflects what many significant organizations are predicting as a shift in the way B2B organizations need to realign to succeed within the next five years.
Unlike its predecessor, ABM, an account-based experience strategy is built on a partnership and understanding across the entire revenue funnel. From CEOs to product teams to marketing and sales leadership to customer success – ABX requires an organization to shift how they approach their unique customer journey.
The Future is Customer-Centric Selling
Traditionally, business units within an organization manage their own phases of the customer journey. ABM attempted to remove that traditional hand-off between marketing and sales to offer continued support through closed-won deals. They were catering efforts towards sales to accelerate pipeline.
While this is a valid strategy, the future of B2B growth must rely on more than just sales and marketing departments. The customer needs to be at the center of every business decision – beginning before the sales process even begins and continuing to iterate and improve after the sale. A good way to think about ABX is aligning on how we’re creating value for our best-fit accounts, whether they’re customers or not.
A customer-centric approach does what it says – it works across business units to ensure that every phase of the customer journey reflects the target account and their experience.
Individual business units are already using signal and customer data to inform how they approach strategy, but it’s almost always siloed to one part of the customer journey. Product teams are continuously iterating to improve how they support existing customers, but with ABX, these teams would place the same effort on figuring out how they can also support future customers that fit our ICP.
The future of B2B go-to-market success is limited to an organization’s ability to adapt progressive methods of reaching more digital-first buyers. ABX, in perfect practice, promises the ability to create a cohesive experience across business units in a way that is often not seen as scalable.
This necessary growth metric, scalability, needs to be taken seriously as we head further into 2023 and beyond. Leadership at all levels must work across units to achieve a common goal – customer success.
RenderTribe Account-Based Strategy
At RenderTribe, we’ve supported B2B growth-stage companies in designing and implementing account-based strategies since 2012. Our approach is rooted in helping our B2B clients achieve sustainable growth by driving account engagement with a strategy built on market fit and relevant signal data.
Our team includes ABX and channel experts to help design a sales and marketing strategy aligned with your unique goals and needs. To learn more, please feel free to schedule a custom consultation with one of our ABX experts.