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ABM Goes Inward: Expansion Opportunities In Your Customer Base

Posted April 10, 2019
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Identify The Hidden Opportunity In Your Customer Base

A modern marketing organization actively practices ABM, meaning strategic “target accounts” have been researched and identified, and specific efforts are put into motion to turn those accounts into customers.

To date, many marketers and teams have focused on executing ABM on net-new customers. And to great impact.

But what about the customers you already have?

Applying the same tactics inward toward your existing strategic customers to cross-sell an expanded product or service package is green space companies miss out on in a huge way. Getting an idea of just how huge the impact could be to you doesn’t require mammoth effort.

A simple way to get started: Envision what your “perfect customer story” looks like. Have your Marketing and Sales teams do the same. Most certainly, that story reflects the customer using multiple products or services of yours across the company.

Next, look at your actual customer base. Do you have any perfect or near-perfect stories? If so, dig deeper to find out how they got there.

  • Who is on the account from both your team and theirs?
  • How did they find you?
  • What did they need and why did they expand their purchase?

If you don’t have that perfect customer (yet), identify a customer you’ve had for a while who uses an arm of your product well. Then you’re ready to go simply by utilizing what you already have: marketing assets and strategy for products not yet in use by that customer, applied directly to them via ABM.

ABM for Retention vs Expansion

Commonly, exploring expansion opportunity and developing a strategy around is done only when there’s extra time (there never is), or extra budget (yeah, right), and the effort is light on the strategy side (“I have some time this week; Let’s send out this campaign to customers”).

It is quite uncommon to have an organization-wide commitment to the expansion of existing customers.

Customer retention is about keeping your accounts happy, checking in regularly, keeping them up-to-date on product revisions and direction, sharing best practices, ensuring your customer support is excellent. Most certainly and most wisely, keeping your customers takes priority over cross-selling or upselling to them.

Given what we know about the critical nature of customer retention, customer expansion efforts easily fall to the back burner.

On the other hand, cross-selling can be a revenue goal-obtaining game changer. Can you afford not to put dedicated muscle into exploring expansion and growth opportunities within your customer base?

A Unified Approach from Sales and Marketing

How a sales team will respond to top-down-directed alignment with Marketing in a customer-focused ABM effort will depend significantly on Marketing’s mindset. Marketers aren’t traditionally trained to be revenue-driven. They’re thinking about conversions and lead and opportunity creation; within an ABM program, they’re focused on engagement levels and account scoring. Those are the elements of the job, but if there isn’t understanding around how each of element drives the bottom line, collaboration with Sales will suffer.

More and more, organizations are realizing that Sales and Marketing have one unified goal, and that is to close deals. Customer-focused ABM is another tool in the belt for making that happen, and in helping to align Marketing and Sales in the process.

Where you put your customer ABM resources also sends a message; consider the potential impact of creating a dedicated customer ABM team under Sales, made up of individuals from both Sales and Marketing backgrounds, to build out a team with a powerful lens into both worlds.

Pushback is always a possibility, but more often than not the additional support is appreciated. Not a sales team in the world hasn’t had reps “go rogue” and create their own assets or do something seemingly out of line with Marketing’s efforts. That behavior is often born of either misalignment between Sales and Marketing, or a lack of support for Sales’ needs, or both.

The manpower of Marketing and Sales teams working together on customer expansion, combined with executive leadership support, makes a cultural difference as well. If a major boost in revenue is a heaping scoop of ice cream, a happily aligned Sales and Marketing organization is the cherry on top.

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