Regardless of whether it’s called named account, key account, target account or account based marketing (ABM), a real opportunity exists to bring sales teams and demand generation teams together.

B2B marketing and sales teams are often misaligned from the get go as traditional demand generation focuses on attracting and nurturing individuals while sales teams focus on accounts.

Historically it has been difficult for marketers to allocate marketing spend in the same way that sales reps allocate their time and resources to specific accounts. While ABM provides the best opportunity for sales and marketing to truly align, overcoming this difference in perspectives is not easy.

Account-based marketing requires a different mindset, replacement or augmentation of conventional demand generation processes and technologies—and it is dependent upon the degree to which the marketing team is revenue centric. AI and predictive technologies allow B2B marketers to identify companies with a higher likelihood to buy and the ideal customer profiles.

The Four Fundamental Requirements for a Successful ABM Effort

  1. Clear market definition, select accounts and contacts
  2. Account, contact and market intelligence
  3. Relevant and meaningful content
  4. Hand-offs and conversion metrics

Fundamental 1: Sales & Marketing Jointly Define the Market, Select Accounts & Prioritize Contacts

It’s hard to believe, but most B2B sales and marketing teams don’t even work from the same database of companies and contacts. One of the best ways to synchronize sales and marketing is to develop a target account profile. In short, have successful sales reps identify the criteria for a prospect with a high probability to turn into a customer. This may include firmographic, technographic, intent, sales intelligence or other factors. The key is to document the criteria.

Next, use predictive analytics to create the account list based on historical data or based on a model that is mutually agreed to by sales and marketing. Selecting the right number of accounts depends on the capacity to follow-up quickly and the ability to engage in the right way and at the right time.

Fundamental #2 – Account, Contact & Market Intelligence

Great insights underpin thoughtful, relevant account plans and support highly personalized interaction. B2B marketers that struggle to develop messages specifically for each persona and stage of the buying process, (as opposed to features and capabilities), will find the process of surfacing account-specific issues a challenge. This is because they lack the experience of looking at their offerings and communications from the buyer’s perspective.

Machine learning and AI enable automating account, contact and market intelligence — and many vendors offer productive sales intelligence solutions.

Fundamental #3: Develop & Serve Relevant & Meaningful Content to Support Sales & Marketing Conversations

Personalizing content at scale is among the most challenging aspects of ABM today. While solutions exist to help automate content production and aid cross-team collaboration, these solutions are dependent upon a solid understanding of the buying process, personas and corresponding value drivers.

The key here is to steer away from corporate messaging and positioning and gravitate toward creating compelling sales conversations. It’s not feasible to create content on an account-by-account basis. However, it is efficient and effective to divide prospects and customers into segments, i.e. personas to engage a group of accounts that share similar characteristics.

Fundamental #4: Manage Hand-offs, Conversion Metrics and ROI

ABM flips the traditional B2B marketing funnel upside down and focuses on creating qualified sales opportunities, closing, and penetrating and finding net new opportunities. Accordingly, the metrics that matter look very different and include the number of qualified sales opportunities, account penetration rates, deal size, win rates and velocity.

As a marketer, it is critical to understand how one’s marketing efforts contribute to revenue. Metrics can illustrate marketing’s impact on sales and this will make is easier to gain the budget and resources required to deliver the business outcomes desired.


Account-based marketing is not THE silver bullet. ABM requires a fresh mindset and a new way to communicate and collaborate with sales. B2B marketers ready to embrace ABM need to fully grasp the concept of being a revenue-centric marketer as opposed to an event coordinator or MQL generator.

It will take some time but be relentless in ABM planning and execution. Resist the usual temptation to revert back to the old way, make exceptions or skip steps. Remember, less is more – so nail it then scale it. And don’t jump straight into execution without first developing a strategy and laying the proper groundwork.

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