Author Q&A with Bev Burgess and Tim Shercliff
Two of Inflexion’s co-founders have combined forces to write a new book describing how companies can drive more growth by focusing on their top customers.
What is this book about?
Tim: The central idea is that companies should take a more aligned view of how they manage, sell to, market to and leverage their executive relationships for their top customers – particularly the 3% or so that are driving half their profitable revenue.
Bev: We are suggesting that organisations need a holistic view as to how to allocate resources and organise themselves more effectively to deliver outstanding value for their most important customers. Applied effectively, the impact on long-term profitable growth is significant, as many of the case studies in this book demonstrate.
What inspired you to write it?
Bev: I’ve spent 20 years or so developing the concept of account-based marketing, which has been widely adopted now across the B2B space. But, marketing is just one aspect of an account-based growth strategy, which also has to involves sales, customer success and the executives of the business. All of these areas have also developed in the past 20 years – but in silos.
Tim: This book covers all the key ingredients for a company to grow with its most important customers, as a strategic initiative, sponsored by the executive team. We wrote it together to bring my strategy, sales and business management experience together with Bev’s B2B marketing and services experience.
Who should read it?
Tim: It is for CMOs, CROs and CCOs. It will also help account-based marketing programme leaders; heads of account management and sales; and customer success teams make the case for greater collaboration across the business to drive profitable growth over the long term.
Bev: This book is for anyone who wants a better understanding of what it takes to pursue an account-based growth strategy, with great insights from market leaders across the technology, telecoms and professional services sectors.
What are the key takeaways?
Bev: Some customers matter a huge amount more than others because the ‘universe is wonky’ due to the 80/20 or Pareto rule. Once you recognise this imbalance, it can be used to drive a new business strategy.
Tim: We know that even if people understand the 80/20 concept, they don’t necessarily follow through, but we demonstrate that some companies have adopted it intentionally, resulting in sustainable, profitable growth.
Why is this book relevant now?
Bev: The world is now in a period of great economic uncertainty and volatility. Yet, companies are under pressure to meet the expectations of their shareholders and wider stakeholders concerned about the Planet. In response, many are doubling down on their existing customers, looking for ways to support them through these difficult times and deliver mutual, sustainable growth.
Tim: An account-based growth strategy affords the opportunity to do more with less, delivering on growth targets, while also reducing discretionary expense.
You have included 21 case studies and external viewpoints in the book. Any highlights?
Bev: For me, it’s Ninian Wilson’s view of what a customer expects from a strategic supplier; the Accenture viewpoints and case studies that show just why they have become such a power house, and the SAP case study on creating a single source of truth, sponsored by the CEO’s office.
Tim: I would point to Kyndryl’s approach to account prioritisation, the insightful comments from Simon Hayward on agile and connected leadership, and the insights we gained into customer success in practice at Salesforce.