Conor CoughlanIn this episode of AMP Up Your Digital Marketing, Glenn Gaudet speaks with Conor Coughlan of Fenergo, a firm specializing in client lifecycle management and digital transformation. They discuss how to implement account-based experience (ABX) marketing and customer service strategy, and why your company should embrace this approach. You’ll learn:

  • Account-based marketing (ABM) presents a major pitfall if your frontline customer service team isn’t following through on your marketing and sales strategies.
  • A developing trend, account-based experience (ABX), extends the marketing and sales integration of ABM to also include customer experience and address that pitfall.
  • As with any new strategy, implementing ABX at a company has to be careful and iterative to allow teams time to learn, adjust, and come on board.

“ABM” — account-based marketing — has become a major buzzword and trend in conversations around marketing and demand generation.

Conor Coughlan, Chief Marketing Officer at Fenergo, says ABM has a common pitfall, though.

“If you fail to address the communications that come in or out of your organization from your customer success functions, then that's where it falls down,” he says. “The last thing you want is to put all this effort into some amazing ABM work and find out it's not resonating.”

A new approach called “ABX” instead fully integrates marketing, sales, and customer success to create a cohesive customer experience.

Conor joined the AMP Up Your Digital Marketing podcast to talk about how to use ABX to improve your marketing and customer journey.

What is an Account-Based Experience (ABX)?

A spinoff of ABM, ABX stands for “account-based experience.”

The approach rests on the principle that a business needs integration among not only marketing and sales (as with ABM), but among marketing, sales, and customer experience.

It ensures your customer success team follows through on promises your sales and marketing team have made, so buyers have a seamless journey with your brand after they become customers.

Conor Coughlan at Fernogo on ABX Marketing-2

“ABX in its simplest form is the alignment between marketing, sales, and your customer success or customer service functions,” Conor explains.

Why do you need this alignment?

If a salesperson presents a value proposition and the prospect buys and becomes a customer, and the customer success person is focused on a different value proposition, you create a poor customer experience. ABX prevents that dissonance.

How to Implement ABX

Conor says a company’s first step toward implementing ABX is to create a plan. Then, start simple, and be prepared to iterate.

“If there was a quick fix, we'd all be doing this,” he says.

Conor doesn’t recommend you attempt to switch your strategy to full-on ABX all at once. Instead, start with a pilot project that focuses on just one account.

Taking it slow helps you learn and adjust, and it makes getting buy-in much easier.

At Fenergo, Conor says, “politically and internally we launched it [ABX] as a beta program because people tend to understand ‘beta’ means this is in trial. It's in development…It's an evolution, and you've got to do iterations of what you're trying to do to succeed.” 

That understanding among teams takes the pressure off whoever is advocating for the strategy to get everything right in the first go. 

“Our first few attempts on this did not go well,” Conor admits. “It's a detailed process.”

Valuing Your Priority Accounts

ABX is also a strategy to ensure your most valued customers know how much you value them, no matter who they talk to at the company.

At Fenergo, Conor says, “We have a proprietary alert system, an ‘account radar,’ so people know who our priority accounts are and who we're talking to.”

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Source: Drift Demandbase Integration

An example of notifications that are triggered to the staff to let you know when key ABM contacts are on your site. 

Similarly, he says, for any company, “CRM is key.” 

Communication about accounts starts with your customer relationship management (CRM) systems. All marketing touchpoints are recorded, so anything the sales team learns through conversations with a buyer is noted and customer service representatives have all the information they need to pick up where the other teams left off.

Conor recommends your CRM have a complete profile for accounts and an automated process to flag accounts and surface that profile information in real-time when you communicate with someone at that company.

“It takes effort,” he says. “There's no denying that, but it is worth it.”

He also points out the effort is probably less than you expect — a campaign may target 10 or 12 people within a company, so it’s not too many conversations to keep tabs on. 

ABX for Future Pitching

ABX becomes especially important when pitching a prospect on capabilities you don’t offer yet but will in the near future, or “future pitching.”

“You need to make sure your personnel knows what are the capabilities you’re bringing online,” Conor points out, so they can follow through on conversations about what customers expect to see.

That could mean a particular type of engagement, such as offering demos, or beta or priority access, to your priority customers and prospects.

AMP Up Your Digital Marketing brings together the leading marketing practitioners to share how they are succeeding in today’s digital landscape. Each podcast episode focuses on providing you with the knowledge and strategies you need to be a successful marketer. Subscribe via Apple, FIR Podcast Network, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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