Sales Productivity

As Easy as ABX – Why ABX Is As Important to B2B Sales As It Is to Marketing

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June 14, 2022

8 mins read

As Easy as ABX image

As Easy as ABX – Why ABX Is As Important to B2B Sales As It Is to Marketing

It Just Makes Sense

ABX (Account Based Experience) has, no doubt, become the coolest acronym in B2B Marketing over the last 12 months, and with good reason, but not so much for B2B Sales, when really it should have. I know what you might be thinking. It’s just another uninspired acronym. But don’t let past clichés jade your opinion. This 3 letter initialism quite literally embodies the fundamental re-imagining of how companies go-to-market.

An ABX approach ensures that B2B companies only spend time, budget and resource on the accounts that they can actually sell to – without wasting it on anyone else. Afterall, it doesn’t make sense to market to accounts that we can’t sell to, and create leads for sales teams that we are unable to act on. Unfortunately, many organisations don’t take this approach and this lack of understanding is a huge reason why Sales and Marketing alignment can become strained.

When you adopt an ABX approach, the results are phenomenal. It just makes sense.

The Data Minefield

For the reasons stated above, it makes sense to assume that an ABX approach is at least as important for Sales as it is Marketing.

We’re all repeatedly told that Sales and Marketing alignment is a key driver to revenue success for a business, but for many reasons, alignment is nigh on impossible to achieve due to the way those departments are set up. We live in an era of accelerated technological progress. As a result, tech stacks have become innovative yet complicated across departments, with little to no alignment. When Sales and Marketing use different systems, with different data sets, how are they supposed to come up with an aligned strategy?

Marketing often places value on data that Sales never sees such as website traffic and click-through rates while Sales lives and breathes within the confines of a CRM environment. Subsequently, Sales teams gain minimal insight into anonymous account activity and rely purely on insights from the one or 2 contacts they know. It is therefore not uncommon to see Sales members spending between 10 and 20 hours a week researching which accounts to target and who they should be focused on selling to, wasting precious time.

Different data = different understanding = different strategies. This results in incoherent, unaligned interaction with a prospect/client – resulting in a poor experience for the client as well as the employee.

A Damaged Relationship

When data sets are unaligned, we often see blame cultures emerge within organisations, damaging team relationships and morale.

Lack of data clarity often leads Marketing to believe that Sales are ineffective, because a large percentage of the leads they create never close. To the contrary, Sales believe that Marketing is focused on the wrong priorities, as a large proportion of the leads they throw over the fence are poor fit and not in market to buy. Ultimately, if a Sales team thinks they are being fed poor fit, non-target accounts, they lose confidence in the process, and instead work on their own, trying to independently build target accounts to nurture and prospect.

Of course, it is important to note that Sales should never rely solely on opportunities produced from Marketing, and this should just be supplementary to their own efforts. However, for sales efforts to be effective, the messaging that originates from the marketing mouthpiece must have consistency and continuity which falls in-line with the style of the sales pitch. Afterall, while Sales is targeting the known contacts of an account, they also rely on Marketing to be running the same messaging for the anonymous members of the buying committee at that account.

Why ABX is the answer

Once the relationship between sales and marketing has been damaged, it can be difficult to build confidence in one another again. In these situations, an ABX approach is the restructuring necessary to rebuild relationships and reform expectations across teams.

ABX = A single view of data

Real magic happens when both teams share visibility of all available data. We’re talking offsite intent, website traffic, sales engagement, campaign results, email conversations, buying stage etc – for the known and anonymous buying committee. Presenting this data in a shared view enables both marketing AND sales to gain a 360 degree understanding of the account allowing them to build a coherent and aligned strategy.

The most effective way for Sales to feel confident in marketing efforts is if they know that the opportunities created are from good-fit companies that are in-market right now. By having open access to these insights, Marketing can visibly demonstrate that they are adding value and Sales can feel content knowing that they are targeting accounts that are likely to close. The ABX approach therefore provides validation and allows teams to be held accountable for their actions. It also encourages teams to build and improve on less successful initiatives as it continuously highlights success (and failure).

ABX = A strategy that oozes consistency and continuity

When we develop a strategy that has consistency and continuity of language we’re all on the same page. So, when sales get alerted to the opportunity, not only is the prospect ready to engage, that prospect already understands your brand is one they could work with, the value offered and the usp’s. The result – a good fit opportunity likely to close faster than before, at a higher value.

ABX = Ensures Budget, Time and Resource is focused only on ICP Accounts

We hear so often that Marketing is undertaking B2C tactics when it comes to advertising. This makes no sense and leads to lots of wastage, for both Marketing and Sales.

What do i mean – well if you sell boots, you will want to identify people showing interest in boots, but of course anyone can buy a pair of boots, so it makes sense to advertise to everyone (which is the aim of B2C advertising – reach as many people as you can, anywhere..because everyone if a possible prospect and you might get lucky. In B2B, you have a finite number of good fit companies you can sell to, and within that knowing which ones are in market, so advertising to anyone else but them is completely pointless, and a waste of precious resource. Equally, if that campaign deliver poor fit accounts for Sales, they will waste time chasing after them, even though the chances of closing are slim, and should they actually be successful, the experience for the client will be very poor, and retaining/renewing that client is highly unlikely.

But, if by taking an ABX approach, you can ensure marketing ONLY advertise to those in-market companies Sales can close…and the reporting is able to prove the effectiveness for each account, Sales see the success of those campaigns, and gain confidence that when they get that opportunity, it is good fit, and in market.

ABX = Continuous tracking of the buyer journey

Once you’ve demonstrated that you have identified the right accounts, it’s important to be able to regularly review if and how they are engaging with you today, whether that is via website views, email communications, meetings or even events.

Typically, during the early stages of account interaction, marketing builds brand awareness and trust through the promotion of relevant whitepapers and thought leadership pieces. As soon as the engagement levels suffice, Sales are then alerted, and start to engage the prospect in the closing cycle.

But the activity shouldn’t end at handover. While they do this, marketing should continue to deliver the right content based on how the deal is progressing through the buying journey, ensuring the known and unknown buyer audience all get the same content.

ABX highlights that the race to closing a deal is never as simple as passing the baton, but rather creating a fluid and dynamic relationship and multi-threaded narrative with multiple members of an account.

ABX = Results Sales will love

Ensuring marketing are delivering good fit, in market accounts into the pipeline ensures Sales are focusing all of their time on prospects they can close…resulting in Faster Sales Cycles – picking up a good fit, in market account already trusting the brand and understanding your value…of course it closes faster,  Higher Close Rates – working only on good fit, in market accounts. Bigger AOV – selling value from the start, not fitting square pegs in round holes and trying to influence late in the cycle.


It is frustrating when we hear, as we often do, that Sales and Marketing teams so often experience friction due to simple lack of alignment. Frustrating, because using a technology like Demandbase can solve these problems.

It’s imperative that we stop categorising ABM/X as a Marketing play when the implications are equally as important for Sales. ABX was developed as a customer-centric rethinking of GTM. If both marketing and sales teams care about customer experience they should both be using it equally.

If you feel your sales team are spending too much time researching rather than selling, if they are chasing poor fit opportunities, or that the opportunities passed over from Marketing are not the right fit, your time to close is too long, size of deals are too small, and close rates need improving, now is the time to explore an ABX approach, and make sure both Sales and Marketing have the same vision, insight and are focused ONLY on those accounts your business can actually sell to.

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Paul Gibson

Vice President, EMEA, Demandbase

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