Companies implement CRM systems to understand what is going on at the customer level for their business. There are a lot of ways companies track what is going on – Finance reports what is happening from an accounting profitability level –  Program Management tracks development and investment programs and manages all the steps it takes to get new products or new manufacturing capability into a state that it can deliver products to customers –  Marketing campaigns track getting information to investors, customers, or industry reporters.  All of these systems are internal looking management tools to track what your organization is doing.  But how do you know what is happening to customers as your salespeople, reps, or distributors work to get your products designed into customer systems?  The solution for that process is today’s advanced CRM systems.

CRM databases are only as good as the data you can get salespeople to enter into the system. Studies have shown that, by far, the majority of CRM systems are successfully used by sales to track customer engagements. Sales do not broadly support CRM systems because they lack perceived value by taking the time to get the system populated with current valid usable data. When companies implement committed, transparent, data-driven account engagement programs based on data tracked in a sophisticated CRM system, this lack of value perception can be turned on its head.

A CRM driven Account-Based Engagement program creates a lot of value to an organization such as:

  • Customer-driven programs to drive collaboration across typically siloed departments in the company. Instead of having sales programs, marketing programs, and engineering programs somewhat tied together by an annual plan, and Account-Based Engagement program sets the account level goals.  When you have a well-articulated ABE program, it requires you to have a fully collaborative project between sales, marketing, management, and engineering to identify what needs to get done to win, execute the actions required to win, and build the relationships you need to outcompete for your competition. This coordination sets the environment to extend cooperative projects across the organization based on customer success instead of broad goals that may improve the company’s bottom line.

  • When you drive team activities based on ABE objectives, you will revolutionize your go-to-market strategy for your overall business. Finding ways to move your products into a well-defined set of major customers will refocus everyone’s efforts into finding ways.

  • For most companies, ABE will prove to be a new go-to-market strategy, representing a significant change in how they deal with their most important accounts. ABE drives additional value by shifting the focus from the performance of campaigns and the volume of leads generated to the quality of engagement, growth in opportunities, increase in revenues, and the enablement of success with key accounts. Instead of general broad market programs, ABE requires sophisticated research into the issues and needs of major customers to develop highly targeted messages that address the real problems customers have to resolve. They create new systems that use your products.  These targeted, detailed notes can be used to develop specific messaging to drive your products into the general market that have added value because you are resolving the issues customers face instead of providing generalized marketing information.

  • ABE forces more targeted technical and emotional messaging that addresses buyers’ key pain points with personal stories and valuable insights that build positive relationships and provide value to buyers as they make decisions that impact your future results at the Account. When you start to face the emotional parts of building account success and critical relationships, you will be able to expand this new paradigm of marketing and sales coordination to build stronger, more enduring relationships with your existing accounts.

  • When you have the entire team discovering and addressing your target accounts’ needs, you will significantly improve the cross-selling opportunities you see in their programs. When these target account programs uncover cross-selling opportunities, sales and marketing can use this information as they drive your products into similar business opportunities at other accounts.

  • Studies show that organizations driving Account-Based Engagement achieve significant improvements in pipeline growth, customer acquisition, executive engagement, and shared responsibility and cooperation between sales, marketing, and engineering to drive customer success.

  • Precise alignment of objectives between sales, marketing, and management-driven and measured by account results comprehensively tracked in advanced CRM systems. Goal alignment drives action alignment, and by linking performance to account effects, the business benefits are tangible and result in improved bottom-line results.

  • To get customers to select your products and build confidence in our capabilities, studies have shown you typically have to have almost two dozen customer interactions that make your position in the program. By having coordination between marketing and sales and management driven by an ABE program, you can improve every interaction with the customer and move closure faster by not offering incomplete, confusing feedback to customers as they navigate their way through the program design and release process.

To have a well defined ABE program, you need to have a well-designed customer information database that is the core of an advanced CRM solution like that provided by NEHANET. Capturing every step of the business development process and driving a coordinated customer engagement program takes hard work. Still, if executed, you can derive significant benefits not only at the targeted customer but across the organization and the company’s account base.

In the next blog posts of the Account-Based Engagement process, we will address:

  • How to start and build an effective ABE program.

  • How to start and build an effective ABE program.

  • Key lessons learned by organizations that have implemented an effective ABE program.

For access to the previous steps to building an Account-Based Engagement program, see our earlier blogs on Moving beyond Account-Based Marketing (ABM) with advanced CRM solutions.

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