The Expert Take: Account-Based Practices in EMEA vs North America

4 minutes
Aug 17, 2022
Account-Based Experience

How different is running an account-based program in EMEA vs North America? We went straight to the experts to get the answers. On his recent trip to 6sense’s London office...

How different is running an account-based program in EMEA vs North America? We went straight to the experts to get the answers.

On his recent trip to 6sense’s London office to visit our flourishing EMEA team and customer base, our Head of Research & Thought Leadership, Kerry Cunningham, caught up with fellow ex-Forrester veteran analyst Peter O’Neill. They gave us a perspective from both sides of the pond on account-based practices in EMEA.

Here are the key takeaways from their conversation.

ABM in EMEA is Less Mature

With the leading companies on the Forrester ABM Wave originating in the US, it’s no surprise North American businesses are further along their account-based journeys.

Peter referred to his recent global research to show it’s early days for ABM in EMEA:

  • 36% of EMEA businesses said they are still doing ad-hoc ABM (i.e., finding their way) vs. 25% of North American companies
  • 25% of NA businesses are doing programmatic ABM vs. 12% in EMEA

So while the North American market still has plenty of room to mature, it’s clearly a step ahead. But that doesn’t mean we can throw all EMEA-based businesses in the same bucket. As Peter explained, ABM adoption varies across the countries in EMEA; the UK is closer to the US, but some places — including Germany — lag behind.

EMEA-Based Businesses Can Skip Being Account-Based Guinea Pigs

Although it seems counterintuitive, Kerry argued that not being an ABM trailblazer has some advantages. Early adopters went through some growing pains. “In a way it’s good news for Europe — if they’re comfortable leapfrogging some of the steps North American companies went through.”

The main problem ABM pioneers struggled with? Not having the systems to capture, identify, and understand demand.

“When they started ABM, most organizations focused on the delivery of content and driving more interactions back to the website,” Kerry said. “But most didn’t have the mechanisms in place to capture the responses and to understand what the buying committee or buying signal looks like.”

Kerry explored these account-based growing pains in more detail, as well as the tech that can overcome these challenges, during his talk at Ignite London. The 6sense EMEA team also picked up the award for ‘ABM Platform of the Year‘ at the same event.

Be Mindful of GDPR

We can’t talk about ABM in EMEA without mentioning the GDPR laws covering data privacy in the EU.

Although GDPR was drafted and passed by the EU, it applies to any organization that targets or collects data related to people in the EU. (If you’re completely puzzled by the EU’s data protection laws, GDPR.EU is a great place to start.)

GDPR applies strict conditions to the way organizations collect and process personal data. It also protects that data from misuse and exploitation. But it doesn’t prohibit the collection, use, and processing of personal data.

(Top tip: You can save a lot of time and hassle by simply using a GDPR-compliant account-based platform.)

It’s worth noting that EU countries apply data regulation with varying degrees of severity. Germany is notoriously strict, making it harder to bring in new business (and partly explaining why the country has been slow to embrace ABM). But tighter German rules also breed a keen focus on growing current accounts, and ABM can be a great tool for expanding relationships with current customers and increasing retention.

EMEA-Based Businesses Want More Detail, Take Fewer Risks

Just as attitudes toward regulation differ across the EU, there are cultural differences, too.

As Kerry summarized, there’s “more willingness to experiment and fail in North America, and less tolerance for that sort of risk and quick failures in Europe.” Peter explained this more considered approach means if you’re selling to a European organization, you’ll need:

  • Greater detail
  • Clear proof of concept
  • More ancillary info around the product

But the hard work pays off. “Once you have the deal and you’re working together, the relationship is then stronger,” Peter said. An account-based approach is perfect for satisfying the desire for details. You can create content tailored for each stage of the buying journey, building trust and strong relationships in the process.

Proceed With Confidence in Europe

Despite the differences we’ve discussed, ultimately, the same principles for account-based success apply:

Whether you call it ABM, ABX, or RevTech — it’s really just good marketing. The success behind an account-based approach is the fact it’s tailored to your audience, wherever they may be.

And the evidence shows it works on either side of the Atlantic. Our EMEA team has grown to just shy of 30 people in eight months. This growth is based solely on the value we’re providing for over 300 businesses using 6sense Revenue AI™ in EMEA markets.

If you want a local team on the ground, let’s talk! Our EMEA team will be attending events in Tel Aviv, London, and Dublin over the next couple of months. 

You can catch Kerry and Peter’s conversation in full here.