Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn, May 18, 2021

Gartner Says Chief Sales Officers Must Develop and Execute an Account-Based Strategy with Marketing

Gartner Analysts Discuss the Three Pillars of a Successful Account-Based Strategy at the Virtual Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, May 17-18

Chief sales officers (CSOs) need to take the lead in developing and executing an account-based strategy (ABS) with marketing, according to Gartner, Inc. A Gartner survey of nearly 70 CSOs in January and February 2021 found 49% of respondents reported pipeline and demand generation as a critical initiative for the year ahead. Therefore, it’s imperative for CSOs to closely collaborate with marketing to drive engagement and progress target accounts through the customer lifecycle.

“Sales leaders who see account-based strategies as an initiative solely driven by marketing will miss opportunities to acquire new customers and grow existing customer accounts,” said Craig Rosenberg, distinguished vice president analyst in the Gartner Sales practice. “Leading B2B organizations have adopted a coordinated, cross-functional account-based strategy, leveraging real-time data and technology, in order to be more timely and scalable in their go-to market.”

During his session today at the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually in the Americas May 17-18, 2021, Mr. Rosenberg discussed how an account-based strategy improves customer lifetime value and win rates, and delivers higher ROI when compared to a traditional go-to-market approach. In fact, Gartner research shows that 48% of organizations using ABS experienced a higher average win rate.

Gartner defines account-based strategy as the coordination of valuable, relevant experiences delivered across all functions that impact the customer to drive engagement and conversation at a targeted set of accounts. As opposed to traditional demand generation tactics, account-based strategies allow marketing and sales teams to focus resources on highly-targeted engagement plays with target accounts (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Evolving Role of Sales and Marketing in the Account-Based Funnel

Source: Gartner 2021

Sales organizations and their CSOs should focus on three key pillars that make up a successful account-based strategy – target, orchestrate and measure.


Understanding the purpose and intent of each stage in the account-based funnel allows CSOs to focus their collaboration efforts with marketing on the stages where misalignment occurs. The first and most tangible example is working together to build an effective ideal customer profile (ICP) resulting in the highest priority accounts on the target account list. Gartner research shows that 81% of top-performing account-based organizations have confidence that their ICP accurately represents the attributes of ideal accounts.


Successful orchestration in an account-based strategy leverages multiple channels and multiple functions to meet a specific objective for a specific list of target accounts. CSOs and their teams should follow three key steps in designing an orchestration plan. First, identify the right mix of digital and human channels. Those channels should be brought together to develop the orchestration plan, with marketing providing air cover and creating awareness before any outbound touches begin. Lastly, and most importantly, sales and marketing must work together to create a high-value offer (HVO). An HVO is an interaction, or meeting, that provides unique and timely business value that compels a prospect to engage or change.


An account-based strategy has a simple funnel, starting at the top with target accounts that are fixed. Moving beyond just leads, the next step of the funnel is focused on engaged accounts – where there should be a threshold for a meaningful level of engagement. This is followed by meeting creation for new programs and opportunities from target accounts, which will ultimately lead to closed/won accounts. CSOs should focus on tracking three account-based metrics using this funnel – opportunity rate, target account pipeline and account win rate.


About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference

Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in B2B buying behaviors, customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually on May 17-18, 2021, sales leaders are learning from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.


About Gartner for Sales Leaders

Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement. Follow news and update from the Gartner Sales practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSales.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission-critical priorities. To learn more, visit