In the relentless and unforgiving world of B2B, the voice of the customer carries immense power.
Attentiveness and active listening to challenges, pains, and agenda become vital in driving business growth, and ultimately, in ensuring business survival.
After all, what are we without our customers?
By diligently translating customer insights into innovative products and services, businesses can deliver tailored solutions that precisely address their customers’ ever-evolving needs.
This customer-centric approach not only fosters stronger relationships but also establishes a competitive edge in an increasingly demanding marketplace.
That’s exactly what Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus, set out to achieve:
To not only ensure that the voices of Terminus’ customers were heard, but to make them the ‘North Star’ for the organization.
In a recent episode of Let’s talk ABM, we spoke with Taylor about her role as the ‘voice of the customer’, and how she stays aligned with the needs of her target accounts.
In the interview (full recording here), we discussed:
- How Taylor is the voice of the customer within Terminus
- How she helps customers align strategy and goals
- How not to be ‘misled’ by technology
- What makes a successful ABM strategy
So, let’s dive into some of Taylor’s top tips:
7 ways to become the voice of the customer
1. Put yourself in their shoes
How well do you know your customers? As in, really know them – not just how often they engage with your brand, or whether they’ve downloaded any of your content.
Do you know what keeps them up at night? What their life goals and ambitions are? What drives them mad every day at work? And what gets them up in the morning?
If you don’t, then you aren’t doing ABM right.
Done well, ABM provides you with a peek behind the curtains of your target accounts. But, it takes a new level of empathy, understanding and insights to fully comprehend what makes your target personas tick.
And that’s all the more reason why you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, if you want to succeed.
It’s no longer about selling your product or service. It’s about helping your target accounts overcome their challenges – how can you be of service to them?
“I got into really talking to the people at Terminus as one of their advocates and coming in, and pushing them on, like: ‘Hey! You know? If the product could do this – it'd make my life a little easier.’” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
2. Align goal and strategy
Whatever your goal is for your ABM program – whether expanding on existing relationships or working towards net new customer acquisition – your strategy needs to align with your objectives.
Essentially, you need to follow the right recipe for the desired outcome.
Time and time again, organizations fail to connect the dots. They set ambitious targets, and then never stray outside their comfort zones – leaving them no closer to the finish line.
If you set goals for revenue, and then only focus on building awareness, you will never get where you need to be.
The best ABM programs set out a roadmap to get them from A to B, devising an effective strategy, with milestones along the way, that will help them to evolve and adapt the program as time goes on.
You need to align your goals and strategy from the outset, so you’re geared toward success from day one.
“Brand awareness is really important and it has a place, but if you only stay in this lane where your goals or pipeline and your strategy is awareness, you're not connecting the dots.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
3. Lean on empathy
If an ABMer were a superhero, empathy would be their superpower. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many marketers forget to empathize with their audiences.
After all, how can you expect to sell to your customers if you don’t know exactly what they need?
The best ABMers are those that are truly customer-obsessed. They know exactly what their customers are feeling at any given moment, and they use this level of understanding to their advantage.
It’s not about exploiting your account’s vulnerabilities. It’s about acknowledging their pain points and genuinely caring enough to want to help them overcome their challenges – ideally with your product or solution!
‘Customer-obsessed’ is a term that is bandied around a lot in B2B Marketing. But there is a considerable difference between those who use it as a label and those who use it as a principle.
It’s not a badge of honor to elevate your reputation within a given industry. It’s a mentality that should be guiding everything you do. Empathy is everything in ABM.
“What I think makes [my previous manager] Corrina so incredibly special as a mentor and as an ABMer in general, is empathy. She has such incredible empathy for other people that, when you're doing ABM, you have to really be customer-obsessed.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
4. Know that it's not all about the tech
Spend all of 10 minutes perusing the latest B2B Marketing headlines and trending searches, and you’ll be convinced that the key to success lies in having the hottest tech. Generative AI, Metaverse and countless other emerging technologies are all the craze these days – but don’t be fooled!
Tech is not the silver bullet you might think it is.
In fact, ABM technology can scale a bad strategy just as quickly as it can scale a good one. And that’s why it’s essential to have the right foundations in place before you get carried away with your tech stack.
Get alignment. Get the right talent. Get the strategy in place. Agree on your goals. Then – and only then – should you be thinking about technology.
Your tech investments should be enhancing what you already have in place – not forming the backbone of your entire program. It’s an embellishment. An accessory. Something to take your program to the next level, when used correctly.
Don’t fall into the trap of centering your entire program around the latest shiny software. You’ll only pay the price further down the road.
“ABM technology – regardless of which vendor you have – can scale a bad strategy just as quickly as it can scale a good one.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
5. Empower your teams
For your ABM program to succeed, you need to have the right team members surrounding you. And that doesn’t just refer to talent – you also need to have confidence that your team is willing to support your endeavors, every step of the way, and help you achieve your goals.
But, that level of loyalty is rarely something you will find for free. You need to earn it. How? By empowering them to reach their full potential.
Every individual has their own strengths. Some are born leaders, others are laden with creativity. Some have magnificent people skills, others are analytical thinkers. That’s why having a diverse, varied team can only aid your progress – it opens you up to wider skillsets and talents.
However, to attract and maintain a diverse workforce, those people need to feel empowered to do what they do best – whether that’s Sales, Customer Success, Copywriting, or something else entirely.
They need to feel valued and appreciated. They need to know they have a voice at the table. They need to be bought into your ABM goals and strategy.
Ultimately, they need to feel like their voice matters.
“This ability to just really, really empower someone and let them do what they're great at and not stand in the way of that – I think it's really unique.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
6. Ensure you're ready to build those relationships
ABM readiness is essential to success. You can have all the tech, all the funding, all the talent in the world – but if you’re not prepared to actually start building and nurturing those account relationships, all that means nothing.
Ultimately, you don’t want to leave yourself in a position where you could stall. And according to Taylor, there are three main factors that can cause that to happen – the Three Cs:
Before you can scale, you need to be confident with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Understanding what your customer needs, what their pain points are, and how you can solve their challenges is essential.
If you don’t have the right data in place and the empathy needed to know your personas inside and out, then you’re inevitably going to start off on the wrong foot, and your messaging isn’t going to land with the desired impact.
Studies say that roughly 85% of the buying decision has been made before the buyer has actually interacted with anyone at your organization. And that’s down to the content you publish.
Whether it’s social posts, blogs, webpages, SEO... you need to know that the content you’re producing is tailored and relevant to your target audiences. It needs to be filling your target account’s knowledge gaps.
If you aren’t armed with an arsenal of impactful, educational, relevant content for your ideal demographic, then you will inevitably stall before you can scale.
The same can be said for your creative. You don’t just need powerful messaging – you also need powerful design! Imagery, graphics, animations, videos, webpages... you need to have the right talent in place to bring your ideas and messaging to life.
At the end of the day, the messaging is what resonates. But, it’s the design that will stop people in their tracks. It’s the design that catches the eye – so, ensure you’re investing in the right areas and the right people to create real magic!
“If you don't really understand that and have enough empathy to understand exactly your personas and your accounts, and what they need from you, then you're going to start off on the wrong foot. You're going to get the wrong message in front of them.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
7. Let the data guide you
Sometimes, we have to accept that the numbers know best. You can have a really good feeling about a campaign, be certain it will perform – but the data doesn’t lie, and all too often it will surprise you with a truth you don’t want to hear.
That doesn’t mean you failed. It simply means you need to pivot.
Keeping track of your performance and metrics throughout your program is critical – not just because it allows you to monitor your success, but also because it highlights areas for improvement.
You need to let the data guide you. The data will show you what resonates and what doesn’t. Trust it, and you will not only better understand your customers’ needs and preferences, but you will also be able to ensure that future campaigns land with a stronger impact, faster.
“Don’t let your ego get in the way. If it's not working, let the data say what it's going to say, and pivot and put your resources where they're working.” – Taylor Young, Principal of ABM Strategy and Customer Experience at Terminus
Keen to find out more about a customer-centric approach to ABM? Check out our monthly e-newsletter, DashDot, where we explore the hottest B2B trends and insights.