How Account Pursuit Differs from ABM

As a marketer, you’ve probably faced some misunderstanding about what you do — probably from your colleagues in sales. 

Marketers can lament about being misunderstood…  

Or they can take ownership of their role. 

In this Takeover episode, host Casey Cheshire speaks with Tracy Eiler, CMO at Alation, about how an “account pursuit” approach can help marketers take ownership of their role and perceptions about it. 

Dancing with dirty data

Before diving into account pursuit, we need to crush a pervasive marketing myth. 

“The myth that I would love to bust is that we have to live with dirty marketing and sales data. It’s a myth that needs to be debunked.”

Marketers will often complain about duplicate, inconsistent, and incomplete entries in their data — otherwise known as “dirty data.”

Yet, all too often, marketers just accept that this is pain they just have to live with. Or, if they do try to do something about it, they only fix bits and pieces of the problem (usually manually and in an ad hoc fashion). 

It may just seem like an inconvenience, but it’s actually costing your company. Often millions of dollars are lost through easy-to-fix issues like datasets needing to be merged or de-duped. 

Sure, it’s never going to be perfect, but it can be a lot better than what it is. 

And it’s not that complicated to fix the problem.

These days, there are all sorts of services that can clean up your data infinitely better than occasionally manual repairs. 

So, why is this happening and what does it have to do with account pursuit? 

Well, misconceptions about the difficulty of the task abound. But, when it comes to account pursuit — and aggressively targeting all the personas you need to target — then dirty data is a sign of an existing problem and a promise of future ones. 

The existing problem is that nobody in marketing has taken ownership of fixing the dirty data issues.

The future problem is that this is really going to mess up your account-based approach to marketing. 

Account pursuit vs. ABM

So, why does Tracy prefer account pursuit to ABM as a term? 

For the most part, it’s to clarify the focus of your account-based efforts. 

“In healthy companies, sales and marketing — usually partnered with someone in finance — are going to do an ideal customer profile analysis.

Tracy prefers account pursuit because it implies more than just marketing tactics and factors in the fact that there is a customer lifecycle that doesn’t end when the new customer signs the deal.

Account pursuit, to her mind, means that the pursuit continues to make sure the customer is onboarded and getting value, which then earns you the right to have an upsell conversation which, in turn, earns you the right to have an advocate conversation. 

Pursuit is your commitment to the lifetime of a customer. 

She likes to think of the funnel as an infinity symbol signifying these steps:

  1. Find
  2. Engage
  3. Close
  4. Grow

In this model, it’s not only targeting new logo accounts your organization sees as its ideal customers, but it also carries through as they are a customer. 

And account pursuit is not just limited to sales and marketing — it incorporates customer success and experience into the mix. 

This not only clarifies the aims of an account-based approach, but it cements the company as one unified entity in the mind of the customer. 

Understanding (and being understood by) sales

We’ve already mentioned the importance of marketing owning its challenges — as in the case of dirty data — but it’s worthwhile to dive a little deeper into the problem when marketers don’t do this. 

Namely, marketing gets woefully misunderstood. 

How many times have you had a conversation with someone in sales who doesn’t seem to know what you do — or worse, thinks they can do their job better than you? 

In fact, 60% of sellers think that marketing’s primary job is branding and events (or “colors and parties,” depending on who you ask).

Okay, now be honest: How many times have you thought the same way about sales? 

Maybe you aren’t guilty of it yourself, but statistics show that 25% of marketers think they can do a better job than sales leaders.

Yeah, you can’t. 

“Shame on us in marketing for not explaining our value and what we do more transparently to sales and in a way that they can understand.”

If we take the dirty data example, some marketers might wonder why they need to own the issue in the first place — maybe it should be sales, right? 

Well, sales has a difficult job ahead monomaniacally pursuing revenue in the quarter ahead. That’s why it’s up to you to take ownership of the problem. 

It’s also why your perception of sales as bullies with short attention spans doesn’t quite hit the mark. 

They really don’t have any extra time to spend on you — but this misconception as to why makes it so that, even when they do, why would they want to?

If you want to pull off a successful account pursuit, you need communication with sales to be great. After all, you need both teams working together to pull it off. 

But that can’t happen without empathy for the hard work each role takes. 

So, if you want to deliver value for the entire lifecycle of a customer… 

Heal the divide and go hug a salesperson. 

Or, at least, try to see where they are coming from. 

It’ll help you both out in the long run. 

This is a #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.