Account-Based Experience & Beyond for Revenue | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Account-Based Experience and Beyond: Transforming Martech in the Pursuit of Revenue


A senior analyst jokingly told me, "I would rather be a barista at Starbucks than become a CMO for a sales-driven organization."

I can see why. The hard work of a barista is unquestioned, but proving that marketing made a difference when salespeople are responsible for winning and renewing clients is tough, no matter how much effort the marketing team has put in

Let's admit it: The only way to sell to enterprises is by a human talking to other humans. Nobody expects a Fortune 500 executive to make a seven-figure purchase online without speaking with someone. The job of sales is future-proof, no matter how advanced AI becomes.

For volume-and-velocity businesses like e-commerce, marketing results can be measured by the number of leads, as leads predictably and quickly convert into revenue. However, leads are a vanity metric if sales cycles are measured in months, purchases are made through complex decision-making processes, and are driven by sales efforts.

In an enterprise focused GTM motion, focusing on leads as the north star marketing metric often ends with the marketing team claiming success while sales results lag the target. And it's not sales, but marketing that takes the blame for wrong metrics that ignore the realities of the business they market.

Account-based marketing (ABM) has become the first real attempt to make marketing efforts meaningful for enterprise-focused businesses. A good ABM program leverages intent to help sales prioritize their efforts, orchestrates programs targeting the right accounts, and drives awareness in target accounts throughout the buyer's lifecycle. As a result, marketing and sales teams work together to win accounts together.

Soon after its introduction, the ABM concept needed refinement. The 'lead mentality' turned out to be a bad instinct for ABM practitioners. Marketers designed programs where they identified intent, warmed up accounts based on intent and sales priorities, and passed freshly baked accounts to their sales counterparts. In fact, the process remained the same as in demand generation, with qualified accounts replacing qualified leads at the core.

The idea of a "hand-off" derailed many ABM programs. Of course, there is nothing wrong if the sales team prioritizes their efforts around marketing-qualified accounts. However, a hand-off becomes an issue if the marketing team focuses solely on the top of the funnel, leaving the sales team to deal with warmed-up accounts alone past the hand-off.

The concept of account-based experience (ABX) emerged to remind everyone that ABM was meant to be a coordinated effort between marketing and sales teams.

However, the idea of Lifecycle Revenue Marketing, promoted by Forrester, defines better what a good B2B marketing strategy should look like. It does not only suggest the convergence of demand generation and account-based marketing into a unified strategy. It also contains the two main words that hint at what a successful marketing program should look like when the ideal customer profile (ICP) is enterprise focused.

The word "lifecycle" suggests that marketing remains in charge throughout the entire buyer's journey. Yes, marketing can help sales fill the gap in the pipeline by engaging strategic accounts. But the marketing team can also help close more deals with a coordinated marketing effort targeting existing sales opportunities.

Additionally, marketing can drive retention and upsells with customer marketing programs. For a shortsighted marketer, these programs might seem dull as they would not yield more MQLs or MQAs. Worse, it's hard to point to a single marketing metric that can demonstrate marketing success in these programs. Marketing success is impossible in a vacuum. A successful ABM program drives revenue with a coordinated marketing and sales effort, in which it's very hard to say who did the job.

That's why the word "revenue" in the lifecycle revenue marketing concept is also very important. It defines the right metric for marketing success. Yes, measuring the marketing impact on revenue requires some extra heavy lifting from data analysts, but this is the only way marketing and sales teams can truly be aligned around a common goal.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Dmitri Lisitski is co-founder and CEO at Influ2.