We’re hearing from many companies that want to engage marketing to support enterprise accounts (usually more than 1,000 employees, but guidelines can be company-defined) or strategic accounts, but they’re not exactly certain what that should look like. Sure, marketing has helped with events and other sales-requested activities in the past under the label of account-based marketing, but they believe maybe there’s something else to be done.
They’re right: There’s a lot more to supporting buying cycles and the customer lifecycle over a long-term relationship. The key is what the company wants its commitment to these relationships to be, and being realistic about what marketing can do, starting with sales alignment.
A little perspective is helpful. Historically, marketing has been welcome to do what it can to attract new business, but enterprise account management has been led by sales. Beyond events and other sales-requested activity, marketing has been unwelcome. Until now. What changed? The customer, for a start. Customer expectations for what a valued partner delivers are higher, and the ways they want to interact are different as well. B-to-b customers don’t leave their consumer experiences behind when they assess b-to-b experience quality. Given how much companies know about consumers, and how they use this information to personalize the consumer experience, how is it that b-to-b suppliers can’t do a better job of understanding and anticipating customer needs? Marketing can address this deficit, but it requires a new mindset around how sales and marketing collaborate.
Our experience has shown that seven factors contribute to enterprise account relationships. Use this list to do a quick audit of what may need to change before marketing can help and results can improve.
If you find that the business is worrying more about what it’s always done than about how best to deliver the most value to its high-value, high-potential customers, clearly it’s time for change.
Megan Heuer is Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions. With more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer.