Growth Insights for CEOs

What is Account-Based Marketing and Why CEOs Should Care

Posted by The Chief Outsider


If you are the CEO of a B2B company, you may have heard of the latest innovation in generating revenue: Account-Based Marketing (ABM). This article will explain the why’s and what’s of ABM so that you can ensure your company is driving the maximum results. 

Let’s face it: your leads probably suck. They suck either because there aren’t enough of them, or the quality is poor. Most likely it is both. Your sales team is always asking for more and better leads – and you are too.

Here’s the problem. The concept of a ‘lead’ is based on the notion of a marketing funnel, which is inherently inefficient.


The funnel starts at the top with a raw lead, which is equivalent to a single person at an organization. Often, these people are at the wrong level, have the wrong buyer persona, or work in organizations that you are not trying to sell to. Ugh.

Good marketing groups then attempt to turn these into something called a ‘marketing qualified lead’ (MQL). The MQL validates that the lead is a real person from a real organization that you might want to sell to, with valid contact information. 

From there, your marketing and/or sales teams might create sales-accepted leads (SALs), sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and, ultimately, new clients. 

All this might sound good except for a couple facts.

  • Many (usually most) of the leads coming in are not ideal prospects for your solution. This results in tons of wasted money, time, and effort by your marketing and – especially - sales teams.
  • B2B buying decisions are generally made by committees, NOT by individuals. Since leads are – by definition – individuals, they are not the best path to driving a decision.

Funnel marketing is like shooting into the air with a shotgun. You might hit something good – you also might hit undesirable things, or you might hit nothing at all.

Account-Based Marketing recognizes these truths and fundamentally turns the notion of leads and funnels on its head. 

Rather than a funnel, ABM creates a continuous cycle of increasing engagement with prospects.


The cycle includes marketing and sales working together to drive ever-increasing levels of engagement with multiple stakeholders across pre-selected target accounts. No more funnels and no more crappy leads.

The specific steps to implementing an ABM program include the following:

  • Identify very specific target account types
  • Identify the actual accounts (companies) to target within those types
  • Prioritize and create ‘relevant’ messaging that addresses the needs of those specific account types
  • Engage with specific messaging (via all marketing and sales channels) proactively to those accounts
  • Measure engagement at the account and contacts levels
  • Tightly integrate with account-based selling methodologies

Perhaps this sounds complex – and it does take some upfront thought and work. But the results are significant. Studies have shown that ABM programs result in 40% larger deal sizes and 285% higher close rates vs. standard funnel marketing. To help accelerate your transition to ABM, a plethora of new technologies has emerged over the last few years to help companies implement such programs.

When you think about the process, these stats shouldn’t be surprising. Of course engaging a more targeted group with a more relevant message will get better results. Why wouldn’t it? 

It is not accurate to say that ABM totally displaces the funnel. B2B companies that use ABM will also run a funnel process at the same time to handle inevitable inbound leads while they are proactively targeting companies on their ABM lists. Inbound leads are fine, but shouldn’t be relied on to be the sole generator of a powerful revenue-generating machine.

Account-Based Marketing is one of the newest, most powerful revenue-generation methodologies and is taking the B2B world by storm. At the very least, you should be aware of the possibilities and opportunities. If you would like to discuss more about how ABM can help your company more effectively achieve its growth goals, please reach out to me at Chief Outsiders. 


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Topics: Strategic Insights, Business Growth Strategy, Marketing and Sales

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