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The First-Ever Account-Based Marketing Framework: From the B2B Buyer’s Journey to the Customer Experience

Author Sangram Vajre Category Account-Based Marketing

The First-Ever Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Framework: From the Buyer's Journey to the Customer Experience

It seems like every time I write something about account-based marketing, it’s the “first-ever.”

For example, introducing the first-ever account-based marketing #MarTech stack, writing the first-ever ABM book, or hosting the first-ever #ABMChat on Twitter. The reality is, we are truly doing something with ABM that has never been done before. Even our friends at G2 Crowd and TrustRadius both recognize account-based marketing as a new subcategory for marketing technology, which is fantastic!

Considering all these firsts, I wanted to take the time to introduce the concept of account-based marketing and share a framework for ABM success. I sincerely hope this will help B2B marketers put the concept of ABM into practice.

So, what is account-based marketing?

The central idea around ABM is that your accounts are going beyond the traditional B2B buyer’s journey to a true customer experience. The path to doing account-based marketing successfully means the B2B marketer’s role has to evolve from being a coin-operated lead generator to a true demand- and revenue-driven marketer. It’s through focusing on pipeline and revenue that marketing will become more aligned with sales. As a result, you can have one integrated “smarketing” team in your B2B organization. I first heard this term from my friends at Vidyard — who actually have a guy on their team dedicated to smarketing — and we’ve taken it to heart here at Terminus.

Do you dig it?

Smarketing also means recognizing your prospects and customers as “accounts” and not just leads. Account-based marketing means that you have to educate, entertain, and delight the people at your accounts, which requires the smarketing team to work more closely with customer success to create raving fans, or customer advocates.

Here’s the new account-based marketing model that I’ve shared over the last few month that has now turned into a #FlipMyFunnel movement.

#FlipMyFunnel with Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

My point: Start with best-fit accounts and focus 100% of your time, money, energy, and resources on them to drive real results.

As a CMO myself, I understand how my role needs to evolve from being focused on traditional lead generation. It’s not because I need more work to do (trust me, I don’t) but rather that I recognize that the way I’ve looked at leads before was wrong. It’s not about getting as many leads as possible, but about finding the ideal contacts who are the right fit for your business. We need to call these best-fit prospects “accounts” the same way sales does.

[Tweet “The way #B2B marketers look at leads is fundamentally wrong, says @sangramvajre.”]

These accounts don’t think about your company in the form of departments such as marketing, sales, and customer success. Your accounts think of your company as a single entity that provides them with a product or service. You’ve played the role of the decision-maker, so you already know that we live in a society where people expect an answer quickly. Your buyers think the same way.

We also need to stop looking at leads as faceless personas and instead understand that our accounts are full of dynamic people who have unique interests, needs, and problems. After all, we’re marketing to humans in the end.

The sales team will sell the dream, and then customer support will service the nightmare.

This is why marketers need to think about the overall buyer’s journey with account-based marketing.

We need to stop thinking of our potential new customers as leads and start calling them accounts. We must think about the entire experience these accounts have when they’re interacting with our organization. What happens to your accounts along the buyer’s journey? How can we ensure they have an amazing experience as our customers? When we look at the overall lifecycle of an account, these are the questions marketers needs to ask ourselves, as well as our teammates in sales and customer success.

Traditionally, B2B marketers are responsible for the buyer’s journey, which is simply the path of a lead takes to become closed-won revenue. Many marketers don’t even think about this path in its entirety, as B2B marketers often find themselves responsible for lead generation — or the fancy term: demand generation.

The thing is, lead gen and demand gen are actually two different things. If the marketing team’s responsibility is generating new leads, you’ll get it done. I promise you that you can come in the office every Monday, have a few meetings, and work with your team to generate a ton of leads. In fact, you probably do.

Sadly, this doesn’t mean we are becoming freakishly smart marketers. The reality is that lead generation is now part of a rinse and repeat playbook. It used to be that you could do events, webinars, blog posts, e-books, sponsored posts, and boom! You were an awesome B2B marketer. Not so much anymore.

My point: Today, lead generation is easy and demand generation is hard. The difference in the two is quality and knowing the best-fit accounts to go after.

Now with account-based marketing, pipeline and revenue generation is the goal and not lead generation. Marketing is now on the same path with sales and customer success. It’s going beyond the buyer’s journey and extending it into a customer experience.

If that’s the case, then why isn’t the marketing team doing everything in its power to help the top 20% of your accounts have an amazing customer experience? As marketers, we can’t just say, “customer success has got that covered.” That’s not what teamwork is all about! The marketing team should also be accountable for upsells/cross-sells, increasing adoption, decreasing churn, landing and expanding, and providing an always on air-cover across all channels that meet your customer needs.

[Tweet “In B2B marketing, #leadgen is easy but #demandgen is tricky. – @sangramvajre #ABM”]

Here at Terminus, we examined over 250 account-based marketing campaigns from nearly 75 of our customers. We saw modern B2B marketers applying the following seven strategies and, more importantly, measuring each of the ABM strategies in a completely different way. Forward-thinking CMOs are not just looking for leads or clicks anymore. They are looking for account progression to the next stage in their best-fit customer journey.

Here is the account-based marketing framework, which starts with buyer’s journey and extends all the way to the customer’s journey.

The Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Framework from Terminus

Click here to download a high-res PDF of the Account-Based Marketing Framework.

There’s more to come on this account-based marketing framework in the future. For now, I hope you can take this graphic and use it. We welcome you to share it wherever you’d like and even adapt it for your own needs. We just ask that you give credit to Terminus as you share it.

I absolutely love this framework, so I constantly share it on calls with our customers and prospects. The reactions are beautiful, with many saying, “I can use this in my marketing plan!” Do you think you could too? Is so, that means it’s time to…

Keep calm and try ABM poster

Note: This is not strictly a best practices framework. Rather, it is based on practical examples of our customers across 250 real-world account-based marketing campaigns. We all can learn from these leading marketing pioneers about how to effectively do account-based marketing and, more importantly, measure it.

What do you think about the Account-Based Marketing Framework?

There you have it! If this helps you, or you think I have missed anything, please let me know in the comments section below. I will be happy to include it in a future blog post. For more information, download chapter 1 from my book Account-Based Marketing For Dummies.

Download Chapter One of ABM for Dummies Now

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