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From Account Based Marketing to Account Based Value Creation

by Hank Barnes  |  January 26, 2016  |  1 Comment

Words and phrases sometimes bug me.

Not all words (when I worked at IBM, there was a guy there who would say “every single word on a slide or document matters.”   That was a little crazy.  People skim more than read.  I think it was a desire by him to justify his existence.) But some words and phrases really do matter.  And some rub me the wrong way.  Account Based Marketing is one of them.

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I love the concept.  Get deep understanding of a targeted account and the people within it.  Then focus a concerted effort to engage and work with them throughout all phases of the buying process.  It is a great idea.  And companies that do it well swear by it.

But it still bugs me.

Why?  Because Account Based Marketing does not work without Account Based Selling.  And yes, the good companies link  ABM to their sales strategy (although, I must admit I have seen companies target marketing to a set of accounts that the sales team did not care about).  But why don’t we call it “Account Based Selling”—because that is what it really is!   We are doing this to sell more to the account.   We don’t succeed if we can only prove lots of marketing engagement but no revenue.

But selling is still a dirty word.  So, we call it something else.  And it makes me uncomfortable.

But given my last two blog posts (found here and here), I also don’t think Account Based Selling is the right way to think of it.

To go with “leadershifting”, I’d like to propose that the approach that matters now is “Account Based Value Creation” (ABVC).   It is not about marketing.  It is not about sales.  It is about the customer.

How would you execute ABVC?

  1. Form cross-functional teams across sales, marketing, service, operations that are focused on specific accounts.
  2. Develop marketing campaigns to engage with the account
  3. Execute leadershifts to sales to drive winning business.
  4. Execute leadershifts to service and operations to deliver and create value.
  5. Execute leadershifts to marketing to engage to explore new value opportunities.
  6. Repeat the cycle.

Customer-centric approaches work.  But they have to be about creating value, not just marketing or selling.

I know it is just a phrase,  but make sure you focus on the real goal and not the words.

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Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: account-based-marketing  leadershift  marketing  sales  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on From Account Based Marketing to Account Based Value Creation


  1. Bo Bandy says:

    Really nice perspective, Hank. I agree with your point of view. A willingness to invest in a cross functional group will be a challenge for some organizations. Spending some of marketing’s time and some of sales’s time isn’t new but a willingness to invest the resources of other departments maybe be a shift for many organizations. At ReadyTalk, we’re seeing some success by involving engineering in some of our initiatives but it takes commitment from the entire organization to be customer first to do it.



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