How to drive revenue by focusing on your champions with ABX

Corrina Owens of Gong shares her playbook for driving revenue with ABX through champion tracking
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I doubt any marketer in our economy today hasn’t heard the word hyper-growth or the phrase do more with less at least a dozen times in any given week. 

With pipeline anxiety looming larger than life, revenue organizations worldwide are looking for that silver bullet tactic, playbook, or channel to propel them back to 2020 numbers — when digital sales were booming, and growth projections were all roses and rainbows. 

While a hyper-growth strategy might not be one of your biggest bets to win in the new year, its alternative, efficient growth is worth considering. 

Supported by account-based marketing (ABX) due to its high conversion rates, high contract value, and high customer lifetime value it enables. 

Let’s explore this in more detail.

So how do you build an efficient growth-focused ABX program your organization can get behind

ABX marketers are stewards of account data.

And there’s no better way to set up your organization for success than taking advantage of your account data. Let’s jump into how you use your organization’s historical data to build an impactful ABX program for the year ahead.

1. Take stock of your current customer base

Consider these questions:

  • Where did these customers come from? (channels)
  • Who were those champions of the deal closing? (personas)
  • Who are the power users? (champions)
  • What industry are they in? (firmographics)
  • What commonality do they have across their entire tech stack? (technographics) 
  • Are there mutual partners across these accounts? Another extension of your sales team — sales teams are often the first to get cut in an economic downturn. Lean into these partners and weigh these partner channels as a heavy impact on how to tier up your accounts. These could be solution implementors, consultants, or even technology partners (Think Gong + Snowflake’s partnership as an example). There are important to factor in as you tier your accounts.

Sift through the above intent data - including anecdotes from your team - to narrow down and focus on your best-fit accounts for the new year.

2. Niche down to identify repeat winning opportunities

At this point, you should have a good understanding of what your best-fit customer looks like. Now, you need to find that white space and replicate the success.

A central question for this step is: How can you replicate what you’ve done well for sustainable future growth?

Narrow in on your champions.

According to an Edleman report, 83% of consumers want a human connection with brands. This tells us that consumer appetites consistently lean more toward more authentic relationships with brands. 

It’s more important than ever that you’re enabling your revenue organization to show up authentically in conversations with those prospects. What better way to do this than by keeping up with the individuals you’ve already established relationships?

Identify the champions who made winning their business a reality in the past because this is often your strongest buyer intent signal

Did you know that your raving fans are 3x more likely to buy from you again than those who are still evaluating and discovering if you’re a mutual fit?

And on average, 20% or more of your customers (aka your raving fans) are changing jobs yearly. If you’re not already, you should keep tabs on these champions.

The best way to win new business is by tapping into your relationships with current and past customers. Your brand equity stays with them through each promotion and each new organization they enter. 

In short, your impact lasts far beyond your initial win.

My ABM playbook for identifying past customers when they move to new jobs has made my path to closing best-fit customers one of our biggest ABX wins. 

We already know what success looks like for our best-fit customers. And  UserGems helps sort through the noise and pinpoint where the bulk of these champions are landing in our white space accounts. 

(Pro-tip: UserGems can surface this information on auto-pilot, so I don’t have to dig for it myself!)

3. Align on roles & responsibilities

You’ve done it! You’ve aligned with your GTM (Go-to-Market) team on your best-fit accounts for the year, and you can start to build programs to execute against your revenue goals.

While the best ABX marketers are seen as extensions of the deal team, you need to be clear in roles and expectations to ensure you function this way. Align with your Head of Sales, Head of Inbound Sales, Digital, Content, and any other GTM function in your team to clarify roles and responsibilities.

By leading with data, you’re already laying the groundwork for successful sales buy-in, which is typically one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome to get these strategies off the ground for long-lasting success.

While ABX is responsible for driving the process with your account intelligence on who your target accounts should be for the new year, it’s time to get that agreement with sales 😨 

Sales should be aligned on who encompasses the target account lists and who will get the champagne treatment programs versus the sparkling water programs.

But don’t worry – this piece doesn’t have to be scary! I recommend having (2) crucial areas in place to ensure accountability.

  1. Service level agreements by departments

This can be as simple as creating SLAs (Service Level Agreements) between these departments on key metrics like:

  • # of outbound touchpoints with key personas at account per week
  • Speed to respond to inbound inquiries across target accounts
  • Content creation per account, persona, etc.
  1. Shared dashboards & reporting

Make your account-level and personal-level data visible and easily consumed by all. Show how you’re tracking towards those goals and call out areas where you see the potential risk in reaching those goals. 

Work as a unit to pivot your strategy as needed.

Share learnings often. Even with the best intentions and thorough research and planning, the market is constantly shifting at unsustainable speeds. 

Disappointment may happen, but not sharing honestly and freely breeds distrust and hurts your credibility to partner with your crucial GTM functions in the future.

4. Bonus tip

Don’t discount your organization’s partner channels. Impact reports that brands that invested in partner marketing grew revenue by 29% per year over the last two years

Partnership channels are based on mutual benefit – i.e., you bring me warm accounts, and I bring you some. It’s important to make sure that both your sales organization, as well as your partner channel organizations are educated on the following:

  • Your product & how it benefits your partner channel personas and best-fit accounts 
  • How and when is it most appropriate to bring in partners with insights or introductions to their accounts
  • Ensuring partners receive credit for when and where they made an impact in your deals in your source-of-truth

Partnership channels are most successful when they are viewed as mutually beneficial agreements. Make sure you’re giving them just as many warm accounts with detailed information as you are getting.

Trust me. They’ll have you on speed dial if you treat them with this commitment and respect. 

Marketers, here’s where you step in with partnerships. You can also hold them accountable to your joint marketing programs (i.e., webinars, live events, digital collateral) as this is one of the unique channels that can yield mutually beneficial goals. 

These can be difficult to attribute to attribution. Make sure your CRM is prepared to recognize these programs' impact and that this channel is yielding the ROI you anticipated. 

During these economic headwinds, it’s important to recognize that your partners continue to see value in the partnership when reduced commissions are on the line. Make it easy for them to work with you by partnering on thought-leadership collateral that is mutually beneficial to both audiences and easily accessible for both.

Final thoughts: Ensure your tools can help you produce more with less

Intent data of all kinds are great. But it's effectively useless if you don’t understand it, don’t know where to find it, and don’t know how to act on it. Rely on your technology partners to help make it stupid-easy-simple to understand the data and the best-fit programs that align with customer engagement.

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