Industry Leaders Sound Off: What is and what is NOT ABM

To understand account based, start with a clear understanding of what is not account based.

Resource Center > Industry Leaders Sound Off: What is and what is NOT ABM

Resource Center > Industry Leaders Sound Off: What is and what is NOT ABM

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Intelligent Demand

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We all know the definition of account based marketing (ABM), but what is not account based?

What is account based marketing?

By now we all have a pretty good idea of what account based marketing (ABM) is.

Here at Intelligent Demand, we define ABM as targeting and orchestrating your company’s resources to drive opportunities, revenue, and better customer experiences for your most valuable accounts.

“Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to designing and executing highly-targeted, personalized marketing programs and initiatives to drive business growth and impact with specific, named accounts.”

ITSMA 2018 ABM Benchmark Study

“ABM coordinates interactions with every contact at an account, rather than treating each lead independently; and, ABM chooses which accounts to pursue rather than chasing whatever accounts marketing can attract. ABM is also more likely to extend beyond acquiring new customers to include marketing to existing customers for upsell, cross sell, and retention.”

David Raab’s ABM Guide

“ABM is a strategic approach that aligns demand creation, customer relationship programs and messaging against a set of defined accounts and goals in a way that is relevant and valuable to those accounts and to the sales team.”


“Account-based marketing is a comprehensive approach for your marketing programs and activities. To successfully take an account-based approach, you start with deemphasizing the vanity metrics such as the number of new leads created, the number of clicks from an email campaign or the number of forms completed. There’s only one metric which account-based marketing teams truly care about, and that’s revenue.”

Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist, Salesforce

“Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts.”

John Miller, CEO & Co-Founder, Engagio

“Account based marketing is focused B2B Smarketing. I say “Smarketing” because ABM is all about focusing on the right accounts in collaboration with sales. ABM is not a solo activity. It’s the combination and range of activities from advertising, direct mail, calls, emails, content — all centered around the ideal set of accounts that you believe has the need for your solution. It’s quality over quantity in its most basic form.”

Sangram Vajre, Chief Evangelist & Co-Founder, Terminus

“ABM is largely a targeting strategy that is coupled with a tailored marketing approach”

Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing, PathFactory (via ABM Leadership Alliance)


The industry has adopted the term account based marketing because a lot of the heavy lifting with this modern approach falls to Marketing, but we like to think of account based as a team sport; where one revenue team works together towards the same goal: growing revenue.

This is why we call it account based revenue (ABR).

The difference between account based marketing (ABM) and account-based revenue (ABR) is all in the scope of your approach. Account based anything isn’t going to be successful without end-to-end alignment among all internal stakeholders including marketing, inside and outside sales, product, customer success and brand teams.

So why call this approach “account based marketing”?

We prefer ABR because that reflects the ultimate goal of shifting from a lead-centric to an account-centric model: focusing on the accounts that matter most to you.

What is NOT account based.

To better understand what account based is, it is important to have clarity and alignment around what account based is NOT.

With all the buzz and hype around ABM right now, it is easy to mis-apply and mis-interpret the terms and concepts of account based — especially in the early days of preparing and piloting. Understanding what tactics and practices are not account based will help your team avoid mis-aligned stakeholders, weak, watered-down execution, and your account based program from being yet another failed marketing experiment.

We offer you our ever-growing list of things that are NOT account based:

  1. Indiscriminately cold calling multiple contacts within an account that you’d like to win.
  2. Display ads. Using display ads to target the IP addresses of accounts like you’d like to win.
  3. Sending the same, untargeted messaging, content and calls to action that you send every other lead in your database.
  4. Generating one-time interest within an account and then throwing that account “over the wall” to sales.
  5. Technology. ABM/ABR is an integrated strategy and approach that leverages MarTech, AdTech and SalesTech to achieve its goals.
  6. A single thing. Account based fits on a continuum of smart, modern B2B marketing. And ABM can be rolled out incrementally in ways that will help your organization manage risk with a test-and-learn approach.
  7. Account based is not new. Great sales people have been doing it for years. But there ARE modern tools and approaches that help revenue teams do game changing things to grow revenue more effectively.
  8. Account based is not a single campaign or technology purchase. It is a strategic go-to-market decision delivering key board-level metrics. (TOPO’s 2019 Account Based Benchmark Report)

Let’s talk shop.

Would your company benefit from an expert partner to help you pilot or scale a successful account based program at your company? Reach out to us — it’s one of our true specialties. We love helping companies grow revenue with account based. And we know how to do it in the real world — with all of its imperfections and opportunities to make a big difference.

Let’s chat about your account based program.