James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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Account Based Customer Success – 5 Things You Need to Understand

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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Account-based marketing used to be the practice of a handful of large B2B companies who serviced key accounts.

Now it is a full-fledged movement expanding into account-based everything.

So, what is this talk of account-based customer success?

Alex Raymond, CEO of Kapta has some answers for us.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

The buzzword “account-based” was first seen in the marketing realm as “account-based marketing” or “key account marketing.”

Alex broke down account-based marketing into two types of accounts: the whales and the minnows.In account-based marketing there are two different types of accounts—the whales and the minnows.


Whales represent a limited number of accounts that bring in a significant part of your company’s revenue, a.k.a. your key accounts. Minnows, on the other hand, are the smaller accounts, which make up the bulk of your company’s transactions.

The difference between these two types of accounts is significant: Whales require targeted sales and personalized approaches, while minnows can be caught with a wider net—general funnel-type activities.

Whales generate large amounts of work and revenue through limited transactions, while minnows generate smaller doses of revenue individually, but through large amounts of transactions.

By recognizing the differences in these types of accounts and developing more effective strategies for targeting them, you can find greater overall success.

As you work to implement your own ABE program, keep in mind these 5 tips for a more successful account-based approach.

1. Keep the Pareto Principle in Mind

The Pareto Principle, or the idea that “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes,” provides a good base for understanding key account management.

In an account-based marketing system, your key accounts produce at least 80% of your income, even though they may only be 20% or less of your total number of accounts.

Because of this, focusing on customer success will increase your base income, even if it does not significantly increase the size of your customer base.

2. Understand Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Hunting for whales is an entirely different process than setting a net for minnows.

With inbound marketing, companies set large nets to find leads and turn them into customers. Account-based marketing targets specific customers and finds ways to hook them.

It pays to keep in mind that key account marketing is not interruption marketing Key account marketing uses the principles of inbound (providing something of value, creating an incentive to buy), but focuses them through outbound sales techniques and tailors them to individual accounts.

3. Integrate Technology, Data, and Analytics

Great key account management requires extensive teamwork and significant data management to provide the best customer experience possible.

This is where the minnows vs. whales metaphor breaks down. A whale is a single creature, but a key account consists of multiple people and multiple relationships, all coming together in one or more business transactions.

That is a significant amount of data to track.

With modern communication management systems, businesses can track their key accounts. Who in your business has talked with whom in the key account, and what did they talk about?

Successful customer-focused sales teams use modern software systems to ensure that these relationships are managed in clear and concise patterns.

4. Focus on The Account, Not Just the Person

As seen above, account management can get a bit more confusing than traditional sales or even inbound marketing.

There are salespeople in both organizations, as well as individuals in charge of purchasing, budgeting, gate-keepers, and overall decision making (C-suite executives and owners).

Great customer success-focused marketing understands this and always comes back to the question: “What can we do to provide the best service/product to the customer’s organization as a whole?”

When you manage communication, track information, and report results efficiently and accurately, you provide quality account-focused systems management.

5. Target Offers to Key Accounts

In traditional marketing, the offer is designed to grab potential clients and turn them into actual clients. In account-based customer management, an offer is designed to incentivize continued business from a key customer.

Rather than creating an offer like, “First month free if you sign up now,” an account-based offer would say, “Our best customers are equipment manufacturers, if you are a qualifying equipment manufacturer, you get your first 3 months free!”

Both of these offers are designed to convert sales, but one is focused on a general market, while the other is focused on converting key account prospects into key account customers.

So, Where Does Key Account Management Fit In?

Under the broader umbrella of account-based everything, you find account-based customer success. Once marketing and sales have attracted and landed a whale, it is up to the key account manager to nurture and grow that relationship.

This is a very important part of the account-based everything process. The icing on the cake, so to speak.

With an account-based customer success approach, key account managers focus on understanding and supporting the unique goals of their key customers. With this knowledge and mindset, key account managers can then develop strategies that enable your business to play an active and critical role in long and short-term success.

As businesses develop a more account-centric approach to marketing and sales, it is important that they do not ignore the valuable role key account managers play in retaining those high-value customers.

This post is based on an interview with Alex Raymond from Kapta.

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.