2019 TOPO Summit Recap: Customer Experience Disrupts B2B Economy

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topohq logoTOPO’s annual Summit brought together more than 1,500 B2B marketing and sales leaders from large global brands to discuss all-things sales and marketing in San Francisco earlier in April. Many analysts and practitioners took center stage to discuss topics such as sales effectiveness and development, account-based marketing, organizational issues and leadership, to the role technology and business innovation plays in driving strategic revenue growth for your organization.

As the Founder and CEO, I took center stage and started off the event by introducing six ideas I believe will help create the biggest impact for companies to implement and lean on in the year to come, which include:

It’s No Doubt That Customer Experience Has Become the Key Differentiator in Today’s Economy

Customer engagement past the closed/won phase has become critical, and organizations are honing in on how they want to better understand and engage with customers both pre- and post-sale. The number of products and the amount of information available to buyers are a result of existing in a highly commoditized space of B2B.

When we look at how many applications exist in the MarTech landscape (over 7,000 according to Scott Brinker), and overlay that with the number of search results for the phrase “MarTech”, which shows 4,720,000 results, we see the intersection of number of products and customer power. As a result of this intersection, companies need to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competition, and the answer is customer experience. In this highly commoditized space, experience delivered to buyers and customers will become the key differentiator.

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To define it, customer experience is a customer’s perception of your company based on their engagement with you across the entire customer lifecycle. TOPO believes there are 5 attributes to world class customer experience: relevant, responsive, predictable, high value, and guided.

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Organizations need to design touch that resonates with individual customers or segments, make experiences responsive, fast, and easy, deliver an experience that minimizes surprises, focus on delivering value to the customer with every touch, and design the customer journey to move them from the status quo to an improved state.

Organizations will also require unique best practices, to help build a strong foundation for delivering the best B2B customer experience. Focus on quality of product, expertise of product knowledge, responsiveness to customers, balancing human engagement with digital, and creating different user journeys for different segments set the highest growing companies apart from the rest.

Go-To-Market Fit Is the Foundation of Revenue Growth

Today, organizations are faced with choosing between multiple GTM models, the perfect example being volume and velocity vs account-based. That decision is often made for the wrong reasons, e.g. a particular strategy is popular or the strategy worked for the executive team at a previous company. To drive growth, it is key for an organization to identify GTM fit.

A framework for identifying the right strategy is to look at the target market, average contract value or lifetime value, and complexity.

Many people make the mistake of making the decision “either/or”. In fact, most organizations have multiple GTM strategies depending on segment, product, etc. and it is important that organizations embrace that both in their GTM strategies and in their operations. There are many breakout companies who have embraced the co-existence of these two GTM models including ServiceNow and Twilio, both of whom continue to scale their number of customers (the success metric for volume/velocity), and their ACV/LTV (success metrics for account-based models).

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Account Based Has Moved from a Cool, New Trend to a Proven, High-ROI Foundation for a Go-To-Market Strategy

TOPO research has shown that the number of organizations executing account based increased significantly in 2018 and will continue to rapidly grow in 2019.

The reason? Account based delivers on strategic, boardroom metrics. Our research showed that 80% of respondents say it improves customer lifetime values, 86% say it improves win rates, and 76% say it delivers higher ROI than traditional go-to-market strategies. That same piece of research also revealed that account based creates opportunities and targets account pipeline. Specifically, respondents cited a 20% opportunity rate, meaning for every 5 accounts targeted, a new opportunity in a target account is created.

TOPO foresees the growth and investment into account-based strategies to continue, growing by at least 150%, fueled by wider adoption and current account expansion. Our research shows that these programs will be bolstered by an expected 41% budget increase for account-based technology and implementation.

Your Brand Is More Important Than Ever

A recent study of the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands showed that companies with a strong brand outperformed the S&P 500 by 70% in revenue. The old school way of thinking about brand was to focus on building awareness of your brand. It would delineate clear positioning, differentiation, and a consideration set. However, it would not focus on brand impact on prospect consideration, the purchase cycle, or the customer interaction with the brand.

The new brand framework includes awareness but then builds out how brand continues to support the customer journey. In the consideration stages, companies can use brand to build trust, vendor viability, assumed expertise, and for including your company on a de facto shortlist. When in a purchase cycle, brand can be used for assistance in negotiation, creating a shorter sales cycle, and maintaining price integrity. After the sale has been completed, having a strong brand leads to better customer advocacy and referrals. This framework will develop prospect and customer confidence in what you say and do, and enables them to ensure you are committed to acting on their behalf.

The Data Paradox: Balancing Quantity with Quality

It’s a problem that many of TOPO’s clients seem to have. In the era of “big data” and an abundance of marketing and sales technologies in tech stacks, organizations are faced with large quantities of data, a significant amount of which may not prove useful. We have a 3-point framework for improving data quality which focuses on which data to access, how to drive relevant insights, and designing activations with prospects and customers based on the data accessed.

Data activation is the holy grail in relation to the “too much data” problem. An example of this would be an organization using intent data and engagement to build an account score. They then use that account score and relevant data to create a personalized campaign. They execute the campaign using a designated touch pattern on email and social, ad creative, mailers and more to execute the campaign. To close, they would analyze campaign performance and optimize target account list and campaigns. Advanced organizations will then use that analysis to adjust plans and move through that same cycle again.

Read More: Customer Experience 2020: Personalization is Key

People, Ideas, Technology

In that order! A recent Fortune magazine study showed that investing $1000 in the “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For” yielded 2x returns from that of the Russel 3000. It’s clear that people, culture, and teams drive performance and revenue.

Even the best GTM market is difficult to execute without (a) the right team and (b) enthusiastic buy-in from that team.

In the pursuit of high growth, companies rarely focus on culture and team-building and instead focus on execution and tactics. The reality is, the best companies in the world do both and since their employees are enthusiastically bought in, they executive better. Delivering culture isn’t just words or executive speeches on the topic. It requires a framework.

We believe that framework starts at the top with organizational-wide alignment across purpose and values. Companies that then focus on building proper training and enablement for their organization, introduce role specialization, and hone in on creating lifetime value of a team tend to produce better results and lower turnover.


It’s no doubt that today, forward thinking brands are transforming their approach based on current trends and educated predictions that will shape the business landscape in the marketing and sales industry today.

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