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Account-Based Marketing: What’s Next for B2B

March 6, 2017 | Brian Driggs | 4 Comments |

Account-based marketing (ABM) is changing everything.

It’s challenging the status quo of how B2B marketing and sales teams have conducted operations since the dawn of email marketing in the early 2000s.

With this new technology, it was easy for B2B marketers to blast an email to thousands of contacts in a database, producing huge numbers of leads from those opens and click-through rates. These spray and pray tactics of trying to reach any-and-everybody are why we relied so heavily on the traditional sales funnel.

Marketing’s Job

Marketing’s job was to qualify thousands of leads (MQLs) to pass onto sales (SALs) to schedule a demo (SQLs) hopefully becoming an opportunity and eventually a customer. Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Purchase. It was easy to follow the funnel.

traditional sales funnel

But there’s a big problem with this funnel: it’s not efficient. Forrester Research shows less than 1% of leads turn into customers. That means most traditional B2B marketing teams are wasting 99% of their time, energy, and resources trying to engage leads who will never buy from your company.

Here are a few other stats B2B marketers should note:

  • Less than 2% of cold calls a sales rep makes result in an appointment (Leap Job)
  • On average, there are seven people who are involved in a B2B purchase decision (Gartner)
  • 50% of B2B Marketers want to measure pipeline velocity and revenue as the key metrics (#FlipMyFunnel)

The old way of thinking about leads and demand generation is sinking. Change is hard. But what if we made it fun? This is why I came up with the idea of #FlipMyFunnel


By flipping the traditional B2B funnel upside down, instead of spraying and praying, your marketing team is laser-focused on best fit accountsThis type of alignment around target accounts helps both the sales and marketing collaborate together.

flipped sales funnel

It starts by identifying the best-fit accounts who match your ideal customer profile (ICP) for sales, the expanding your reach within the account by finding contacts who match your buyer personas. After you know who you want to engage, marketing works in collaboration with sales by providing “air cover” through a variety of tactics: events, social media, advertising, direct mail, whatever channels your buyers are on to connect with them on their terms. The goal here is to create advocates for your brand before they ever become customers.

The biggest benefit is that by starting with the end in mind—knowing which accounts you want to become your customers—you can align tools and technology to your account-based marketing strategy. This is why marketing and sales alignment is essential. You want to think about account engagement instead of just leads.

Here’s a presentation we did at the Business Marketing Association of Phoenix on this same topic:


So where do you go from here?

The good news is that you probably have an existing marketing technology (#MarTech) stack that can help you execute account-based marketing. Check out the stack grader to build your own stack to see what tools you might need to add to do ABM at scale.


  1. Lauren Patrick on March 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Great high-level overview for B2B marketers on account-based marketing! #ABM!

  2. Duke Vukadinovic on March 7, 2017 at 6:01 am

    Only time will tell if account-based marketing is the new buzzword or new reality but the first step to implementing such a marketing strategy is to build target account list. This is definitely a shift for many marketers, who typically think in terms of buyer personas.

    • jgray@leadmd.com jgray@leadmd.com on March 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Duke – I agree but I wish I didn’t. Selling high ACV to targeted customers with high LTV is a no brainer in B2B mid/ent markets. The tendency for ‘shiny object syndrome’ makes it more of a question around will we stay the course long enough before the next flashy trend makes it “easier”, promising overnight success. Attention spans are getting shorter, take ‘predictive’ for example.

      • Duke Vukadinovic on March 20, 2017 at 8:15 am

        Yes, SOS syndrome bugs me a lot too. I as a marketer witnessed a lot of new ideas which captured customers imagination and attention in such a way that they get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.

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