I had lunch yesterday with the Head of Corporate Marketing for a very successful, global company. Great, smart guy. Super experienced. And someone who I view as a genuine expert practitioner and innovator in the field of B2B revenue growth.
During our lunch, he asked “Is ABM that different from everything we’ve been doing and are already doing — really?”
I looked down at my chicken soup (the lunch choice of champions) and said, “You’re right. ABM isn’t that different — especially at the tactical level. But what I think ABM does do is give us A BIG SHOT IN THE ARM to continue to up our game as B2B revenue practitioners. And modern tools like predictive, AI, intent data, automation, account-based advertising, sales assistants, content personalization, etc… give us better ways to operationalize and scale those fundamentals.”
In other words, ABM guides us to keep doing a better and better job at applying the fundamentals for succeeding with any B2B revenue growth strategy. (TWEET THIS)
And let’s be honest: applying those fundamentals in our constantly shifting, insanely busy, under-resourced, deeply imperfect world is why B2B revenue growth is hard. It’s easy to incrementally give up on one or more fundamentals and slide into mediocrity. Creating best-in-class revenue growth is not for the faint of heart. (If we liked easy things, we wouldn’t be drawn to the jobs we have, would we? And you wouldn’t be reading this blog.) (TWEET THIS)
These “universal truths” have been true for decades! They’re certainly not new. But how well and how consistently do we follow them? Answer: not that well, not that consistently.
Back to my lunch: I started listing some of those fundamentals over my bowl of chicken soup. And my friend nodded knowingly. He’s a real world revenue leader. He knows how hard some of these are, but also how important they are too.
I woke up the next morning still thinking about our conversation. Hence this little story, and this list:
B2B Revenue Growth Fundamentals
(Call it ABM or Not. It doesn’t matter.)
1. Target where you can win, grow, and be profitable
Start here. So much time, talent, career reputation and did I mention BUDGET is wasted because we don’t target the right accounts, buying centers, personas and needs in any kind of rigorous way. Skipping the hard and honest work around targeting also puts your company on a fast track to organizational dysfunction and misalignment.
2. Authentic and courageous messaging, creative, content
Ask yourself: How many times over the last year was I captured, startled, inspired, impressed or led into a genuine “ah ha moment” by a B2B company’s messaging, creative or content? Once? Twice? Yeah, me too. We need to do our homework about ourselves, our brands, and our customers’ drivers, dreams, fears and goals. And then we have to have the courage to say something that we truly believe, that helps them solve their problem, and that stands out from our timid, boring competitors. Our customers are humans. And humans crave fresh truth. We need to stop playing scared. (TWEET THIS)
3. Personalized experiences
Yes, personalization is harder than one-size-fits-all. It takes thought and strategy. It takes effort. But the companies who are doing it are crushing the ones that aren’t. There are a hundred ways to personalize experiences for your customers and prospects. Do it and they’ll thank you with their engagement and ultimately, with their dollars and loyalty.
4. Multi-channel, Multi-Context Engagement
Our customers and prospects live in the real world, as full people, living their lives all over the damn place. You probably won’t engage them with a single channel or tactic in a single place. It takes a multi-channel, multi-context approach today. Our revenue program has to do the best to meet them in the places and ways they prefer — physically, technologically, contextually, emotionally and intellectually.
5. Strategic, integrated, efficient use of people, technology and tactics
We have to connect the dots — and then keep them connected — if we want to unlock the benefits of modern revenue growth strategy. That level of orchestration doesn’t happen naturally. Entropy is constantly stalking us. Things want to naturally fling apart and fly off in their own, random directions wasting impact, time and resources. That’s true of people, technology, process and tactics. Fight that entropy by planning, managing and optimizing very campaign and program from a holistic, integrated perspective.
6. Revenue stakeholder alignment, collaboration and orchestration
Yeh. This old chestnut. We can’t act like a bunch of silo’ed teams, running around doing whatever the hell we want, folks. That’s not how we’ll create revenue growth. And it’s not how we’ll create a great customer experience either. We need to get super real about our “revenue roles” and how we fit into our integrated and aligned go to market strategy and revenue program. A fantastic place to start is between your demand program and your SDR team. Bringing those two elements into tighter alignment and orchestration yields huge gains.
7. Credible analytics and attribution
“Water, water everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink.” — from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
We’re surrounded by data and starving for insights that we can actually believe. Honest talk: most revenue-related reporting at most companies is a shit show. Everyone knows it. It harms stakeholder alignment, it kills efficiency and it craters the credibility that makes the C-suite approve our budgets. Doing the hard work to produce reporting, analytics and attribution that aren’t bullshit is NOT SEXY (things like data strategy and hygiene, clarifying processes, fixing system integrations, cleaning data, agreeing on terminology and KPIs, etc). But it’s worth it. Eat your damn vegetables. (TWEET THIS)
8. Scalable, repeatable and efficient operations
Practicing these B2B revenue growth fundamentals 1 through 7 in a manual, heroic effort kind of way will kill you. We have to do the work of organic revenue growth in ways that are smarter, not harder. This takes internally-focused innovation, operational strategy and real world expertise. Without it, over time your revenue operation costs more budget than it creates — it ruins ROI.
9. Clear measurable goals and truthful ROI
There’s so much activity for activity’s sake out there… people just running around, doing shit. Start with your goals–things you can measure, definitions of success that cut to the heart of why you’re doing this thing. Create a business case and an ROI model that isn’t filled with magical thinking, unicorns and rainbows. Dare to be honest and set realistic expectations. Then, go do your thing — launch it — and have the courage to measure it, using the same metrics from your business case. Guess what happens when you do this? You LEARN! And you build credibility. Imagine that.
10. I could have come up with a 10th, I suppose. But you’re busy, and I’m tired of typing.
Feel free to add your 10th below in the comments. Let ‘er rip. Preach it!
Everyone is excited about ABM. And I think they should be! But I don’t believe ABM is truly new. Rather, I think ABM gives us a fresh reminder — and an exciting set of new tools — for doing what we always needed to do — the fundamentals above. These are the things that separate the Revenue Leaders from the Revenue Mediocre-crats. (TWEET THIS)
What do you think? Is ABM new?
Want an outsider’s perspective? At ID, we use the fundamentals I listed above as an assessment framework to help marketing, sales and customer success leaders quickly identify the opportunities to improve their revenue performance – and most importantly: what to do next.
Reach out any time if we can help your team unlock their next phase of revenue performance improvements.