IDC’s Adaptive Customer Engagement Model Replaces the Marketing-Sales “Funnel”

NEEDHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#ACE–International Data Corporation (IDC) has traced the dramatic changes in the B2B buyer’s journey over the past decade. Today’s buyer is fully engaged across multiple digital channels and information sources with expectations of a more B2C-like experience. Meanwhile, B2B marketers face growing complexity as the number of personas they must engage, influence, and nurture in a highly contextual relevant manner expands. In this environment, the linear, funnel-like operating model used by marketing and sales can no longer achieve the desired outcomes. To engage the modern, digital-first B2B buyer, organizations need to make a cultural and organizational shift to a new model – the Adaptive Customer Engagement model.

“The current marketing and sales operating model fails in customer centricity and perpetuates the challenge B2B marketing and sales leaders face in a digital-first era — to establish relevancy, nurture, and build relationships among a growing number of influential individuals in a buying committee,” said Laurie Buczek, vice president, CMO Advisory Service at IDC. “Marketers have struggled to meet the desired content and experience delivery for a better part of a decade. No longer can marketing and sales operate within a linear buyer decisioning model or continue to create disconnected acts of content and interpersonal dialogue. It is critical that marketing steps in to orchestrate and adaptively deliver the best content at the right time and right place.”

A recent IDC report introduces the Adaptive Customer Engagement (ACE) model and outlines how it meets the needs of B2B buyers who are digital first, influenced by their overall experience with a vendor, and expecting a high level of personalization. The ACE model does not rely on procedural movement from one step to another in a buyer’s journey. Instead, the buyer — or more accurately, the multitude of personas in the buyer’s cohort — can move in any direction, to any part of the model. It is the vendor’s task to engage with the customer on their terms wherever they may be. By accurately identifying the buyer’s current needs, the vendor can position, even automate, the right digital or human resource to meet those needs.

The critical components of the ACE model are agility and adaptability while the focus is on four key areas of interaction:

Buyer’s Objectives: The buyer expects vendors to deliver contextually relevant information and experiences, when and how they need them. And they desire an ongoing and enriching relationship. To meet these expectations, marketers must build a practice that mentors buyers to solve business challenges, measure value, and achieve business outcomes. This requires a richer, more personalized, and orchestrated content strategy that smooths the path to purchase and, after the sale, builds loyalty to retain their business.

Adaptive Enablement: The key to the ACE model is highly personalized content and interactions connected across the whole journey. Newly emerging technologies enable marketers to respond more precisely to “ideal customer” personas and buying cohorts within their life cycle. The powerful combination of enterprise-level customer data, digital analytics, artificial intelligence, insights, and automation powers marketing to orchestrate the right content, right channel at the right time.

Adaptive Engagement: Buyers draw information and resources from many sources at different points in time and have widely varying preferences for types of information and format. IDC research finds that buyers want an always-on digital experience with human touch appropriately weaved in throughout their entire journey. Harnessing the power of the data, analytics, and automation in the adaptive enablement layer will allow marketers to truly orchestrate a personalized experience with content suited by persona and journey stage.

Seller’s Objectives: One of the most important shifts in the ACE model is how marketing and sales interact and operate together. Marketing teams can deploy their digital intelligence and understanding of customer behavior to signal to the sales team when buying cohort or individual activity changes, requiring interaction from a salesperson to accelerate the buying decision process.

To learn more about IDC’s Adaptive Customer Engagement model, including advice for marketers, please join IDC’s Laurie Buczek and Jason Cunliffe for a complimentary webinar on January 25th at 12:00 pm U.S. Eastern time. Details and registration are available at

The IDC report, The Digital-First Era Demands a New Marketing and Sales Model: Introducing Adaptive Customer Engagement (IDC #US49626322), outlines a new operating model – the Adaptive Customer Engagement model – for marketing and sales that provides a modern framework to identify and accelerate revenue growth opportunities for the brand.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,300 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology, IT benchmarking and sourcing, and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights.


Michael Shirer


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