Making the change to Account-Based Engagement requires significant changes to the roles and responsibilities of marketing, sales, services, and management. Orchestrating this change is Leaping a well-functioning Account-Based Engagement, culture is challenging but essential if you are serious about changing the way you go to market. Sales, marketing, and services must be working together in a coordinated program using a common language, and a common set of data.
The first agreement that must be reached is to set a common set of goals for the program. Is your ABE program’s objective account acquisition, expansion of existing accounts, or account retention for example. Sales, marketing, and management need to align on the target accounts to focus on. Is it strategic accounts, large accounts, accounts in a market or region, or expansion in the broader middle market for your products? Finally, you need to identify the specific accounts the program is working on.
The program needs to be a part of the institutional culture. You should be holding joint planning sessions with all 4 organizations participating, defining the plan, and publicly committing to executing it. Gaining this team buy-in is essential and it can only be done by listening to all the parties and building a consensus that achieves the goal.
One of the hardest parts of getting goal alignment is making sure the actual execution of the plans is coordinated across all parts of the ABE team. Account engagements need to be defined and agreed to by all the stakeholders. Often one of the best ways to make it work is to hold planning boot camps to set up the tactical implementation steps that every team member will execute as the program roles out. Your sales support solution, such as the CRM system from NEHANET, needs to facilitate the activity definition and tracking processes to make sure everyone agrees and executes in a timely way.
Finally, the program status must be transparently communicated across the organization. There needs to be an effective account situational assessment, communicated regularly and effectively. This communication must be real-time and consistent. You cannot just let the program just die out, it needs to be committed, driven, and executed with full management support.
The process of building a high-performance Account-Based Engagement program will affect every part of your customer-facing team. To make it work, management needs to be completely on board and committed to making it a success. That means reviews need to be ABE-focused, goals need to reflect the execution of the ABE plans, and priorities need to take the ABE program into account when committing to the day-to-day activities of the organization. Management also needs to take the ABE program into account when deciding on staffing and investment actions that make the program work.
Unfortunately, customers and competitors will get in the way of even the best defined and committed plan. The ABE team needs to highly responsive to these changes and be able to adapt the program to overcome the issues that will always come up when you are trying to penetrate complex, high-value customers. Program responsiveness and adaptability are essential parts of any well-executed ABE program. You need to have processes and flexibility to adapt to a rewarding and efficient process even when things don’t work out the way you want. Team members need to understand that there is never a straight path to success. You always need to be able to change the plan, adapt to new conditions, and make the difficult decision to even drop a customer from the ABE program if the situation looks grim and you could have better success at other customers.
Everyone needs to believe in the importance of executing the ABE program and delivering the account results the program expects to deliver. Management needs to take a leadership role in making sure everyone is focused on success.
In the final chapter of this blog post about the Account-Based Engagement process, we will address:
- 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.