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How To: Move Past MQLs and Implement Customer-Focused, Account-Based Lead Generation

10 min

How To: Move Past MQLs and Implement Customer-Focused, Account-Based Lead Generation


Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile

Chapter 3

How to Find Which ICP Members are In-Market

Chapter 4

How to Deliver Consistent, Engaging Messaging to your Audiences

Chapter 5

How to Deliver Consistent, Engaging Messaging to Your Audiences​

Chapter 6

Choosing the Right Channels

Chapter 7

Driving More Opportunities with Better Metrics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1


Selling and marketing are harder than ever. Old-school tactics are pushing modern buyers away, leaving revenue teams frustrated, inefficient, and unable to compete. In No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls, Latané Conant delivers the recipe for scalable, repeatable, data-driven sales and marketing strategies that work today.

In this How-To, we provide a practical, tactical dive into some of the strategies outlined in Chapter 4. 

In her book No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls, author and 6sense CMO Latané Conant presents plenty of great reasons for B2B revenue teams to ditch their traditional lead-driven marketing playbooks and use far more effective account-based approaches instead.

She writes: “If we want to truly engage our potential customers, we need to break free of the chains of the MQL and the forms, spam, and cold calls we rely on to generate them. When you move past MQLs into an insights-driven, customer- and employee-focused approach to sales and marketing, magic starts to happen.”

This pivot is transformative, Conant says. But it’s also often challenging for organizations because it reorients a revenue team toward a hyper-vigilant focus exclusively on the accounts that are the right fit and actively seeking a solution.

Marketers and sellers tasked with crafting and implementing this approach can sometimes feel overwhelmed because it requires:

The creation of an Ideal Customer Profile, and a variant for in-market accounts, as a foundation for engaging the right prospects at the right time

The functionality to segment your audience based on their current buying stage, previous interactions, and buying intent

The ability to deliver consistent, persuasive, and relevant messaging — and accurately measure the results for those interactions (both at the company-wide and individual levels)

The insights necessary to correctly choose the right channels to reach your audience with the correct message at the right time

This stuff isn’t easy to do, especially for ABX newcomers.

Here’s a how-to that offers step-by-step insights to demystify your ideal accounts and drive more opportunities with them.

Chapter 2

Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile

The traditional lead-based playbook, which is motivated by quantity over quality, encourages marketers to capture as many leads as possible — with little to no regard for ideal-fit. The account-based approach requires far more precision.

The cornerstone of this strategy is the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This approach meticulously constructs a customer-type that suffers from the very same pain points that your solution solves. It also documents other determining factors such as:

  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Technology stack
  • Locations

Your revenue team may already have an ICP, but if not, here’s how to build it.

Scroll through the cards to see what the steps to take to build an ICP.

Gather all of this data in one place (like a spreadsheet or other data visualization tool) and start sorting your customers by each data type. You’ll quickly uncover the customers that spend the most with you, use more of your products, and are your biggest cheerleaders.

When you’ve identified the customers providing you the most value as you define it — whether that’s monetary, evangelism, or product adoption — answer these questions:

  • What industries are most common?
  • Are there certain geographic areas your best customers come from?
  • How many employees work at these companies?
  • Are there specific titles that pop up as evangelists most commonly cite?
  • What products see the most adoption across your top customers?

Noting the commonalities amongst your most valuable customers will lead to a more defined ICP.

(If you want a deeper step-by-step into creating an ICP, check out this great resource.)

This ICP will now be the cornerstone of your account-based approach, informing practically every plan and activity of your revenue team. This includes tailoring messaging and content to prospective customers that fit this profile.

Chapter 3

How to Find Which ICP Members are In-Market

As invaluable as an ICP is, it doesn’t reveal which of your ideal customers are actually in-market. As Latané Conant writes in No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls, just because an account matches your ICP and is a good fit for your solution, it doesn’t mean that they’re a good fit right now. Timing is everything.

She writes: “We are laser-focused on in-market opportunities because it prevents us from wasting resources going after anyone and everyone who looks like a potential customer. We tailor our marketing to the accounts that show intent and engagement and are at the sweet spot in the buying journey.”

Focusing your marketing efforts on accounts that are actively seeking solutions like yours helps conserve budget and time, and maximize engagement — which generates opportunities and more revenue. These are called in-market accounts, and because of their unique characteristics, they should be grouped within their own ICP: an IICP, or In-Market Ideal Customer Profile.

Here’s how to find your IICP.

Collect Buying Signals

Buyers who are in-market for a solution will be performing research, visiting your website, searching for topics on the internet, engaging with marketing campaigns, and more.

To capture these buying signals, you’ll need the capability to:

  • Track activity on your website
  • Monitor critical keywords
  • Detect company performance (new round of funding, hiring sprees, etc.)

Use a tool or multiple tools to collect this information in an easily-accessible and digestible way. Buyers and accounts that are giving off the most signals are more likely to purchase.

Reference Historical Data

Your business has a history of leads, opportunities, lost deals, and won deals. All of that information provides important context about the actions your typical buyer takes throughout their journey.

Look through your opportunities in the past year to discover:

The typical number of buyers involved in a deal

The number of touchpoints required from the start of an opportunity to close

The channels leveraged for engagement throughout the lifecycle of an opportunity

Chapter 4

How to Deliver Consistent, Engaging Messaging to your Audiences​

The traditional marketing playbook relies on campaigns utilizing static — and arbitrary — segmentation.

Generic lists for campaigns will generally be filtered by basic demographics such as:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Titles
  • Event attendance

Here’s the rub: Those static lists don’t take into account a buyer’s stage in their journey or their previous engagement with you.

Driving more opportunities requires marketing to buyers based on their current state. Dynamic segmentation is a way to create campaign audiences using the actions they’ve taken, their buying stage, and more.

Here are some ways to segment your audience to be more aligned with their real-time status:

Buying Stage

Top-of-funnel audiences require different campaigns than those further along their journey. Create segments for each part of the funnel so you can easily see the accounts in each stage, and quickly launch a campaign targeting different segments.

Engagement Level

A key account or buyer who hasn’t shown much interest or engagement in a few months needs to warm back up with educational and informative content. By contrast, a high-engagement buyer might be ready for a demo or to speak with sales.

Competitor Targeting

Is an account coming up on their renewal date with your competitor? Or has a buyer been heavily researching one of your competitor’s products? This type of segmentation will allow you to target this audience with content like case studies and fact sheets that highlight your differentiated values.

A key aspect to deploying these dynamic segments is the ability for accounts and buyers to move between them as their situations change. To reduce the amount of time you spend sorting accounts into different segments, use technology that captures this information and segments your audiences automatically and in real-time.

Chapter 5

How to Deliver Consistent, Engaging Messaging to Your Audiences​

Once you can identify accounts that are a good fit, in-market for your solution, and are smartly grouped into segments, it’s time to start engaging them with targeted marketing campaigns.

The messaging of these campaigns must be far more precise and accurate than what you might use with a leads-based playbook. Remember, you’ve focused your lens on a far smaller audience. These in-market accounts have specific and timely needs that can be quickly solved by your solution. Speak to those concerns.

But how? It’s time to create a value messaging framework. Start with the priorities of your customers’ executives.  Repeat this process, working from the top down, identifying the priorities of the entire buying team.

Next, break out the priorities one-by-one and for each complete the following table:

Current State

What is the customer’s current state? Focus on the pain points they see daily, and the negatives that come from not solving these problems.

Current State Risks

How will the challenge, if unaddressed, impact the ability to grow and compete?

Future State

What would it look like if your buyer could solve those issues? What does a perfect world look like for them?

Future State Rewards

The benefits that your buyer will see with your product/services.

Business Requirements

What does the buyer need to have in place to capture the value your solution can provide?

Executive Priorities Metrics

What are the metrics that your solution will improve? Or what new metrics can your buyer unlock?

Conversation Starters

The questions that will lead a buyer toward identifying the challenges they face and the future state they’re aiming for.


The capabilities your product offers that directly address this need.

Use Cases

The different use cases your product has which align with this priority.

Customer Stories

A list of case studies and customers that have faced similar challenges, and how they overcame them with your help.

With this framework in place, you can now provide:

Aligned messaging across different teams who are engaging with your audiences

A cohesive buying experience across multiple channels 

Consistent messaging for buyers throughout each stage of their journey

Leverage these specific, highly relevant value propositions as you ideate and execute your cross-channel outreach.

Chapter 6

Choosing the Right Channels

This framework will give you the flexibility to deploy your messages across multiple channels and engage with your audience in various formats.

Multi-channel marketing is crucial because buyers expect it. 72% of buyers prefer connecting across different channels with brands and businesses through multi-channel marketing.

Engaging across multiple channels makes it easier to connect with your audience and start to build awareness or drive them further along their journey with correctly timed offers.

Here’s how to choose the right channels for your campaigns:

Chapter 7

Driving More Opportunities with Better Metrics

After you launch your campaigns, you’ll need to measure their effectiveness. By studying your performance over time you’ll determine the most impactful segments, messaging, and channels.

Conant writes in No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls: “What I love about our segment-focused, account based approach is that we (6sense) can measure our campaigns at a granular level… that’s the only way we can improve our campaigns and make sure that our precious budget dollars are engaging accounts in a meaningful way and driving predictable, measurable results.”

Here’s how you can get that same level of analysis.

Campaign Reach

The baseline measure of your campaign is its reach. This reveals how many of your intended buyers and accounts you were able to successfully get in front of.

Campaign reach can be broken down into either the number of buyers or number of accounts. This level of differentiation makes reach valuable for analyzing both larger and smaller-scale campaigns.

How to measure: Track the accounts and buyers who are exposed to your campaigns. This requires a comprehensive solution that tracks your IICP, integrating with any tool you use for your campaigns (MAP, advertising solutions, social media, your website, etc.).

What to look for: Trends over time. Measure how you perform quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. Observing campaign reach reveals broad-level performance of your campaigns, while giving the ability to understand which channels or messages are driving the most engagement.

Campaign Interactions

Campaign interactions measure how many accounts or buyers actually took an action after being reached by your campaign.

Interactions are a valuable measurement because they indicate a person who is resonating with your messaging and offerings.

How to measure interactions: Utilize tools that can track the following:

  • Opening or clicking through an email
  • Engaging with a digital ad campaign
  • Downloading an ebook
  • Interacting with your brand on social media
  • Attending a webinar
  • Requested a demo
  • Interactions on your website
  • Keyword research

Effectively measuring this engagements requires the ability to combine this information with your data on the accounts that are in-market.

What to look for: Interactions come in many different shapes and sizes, representing different levels of engagement. Measure your interactions based on their importance and how they reflect a buyer’s journey.

The types of engagement you can expect across the different buying stages include:

Top of Funnel

Opening email, visiting your website, clicking on an ad, resharing a social post

Middle of Funnel

Attending a speaking session at an event, downloading a product sheet from your website, watching a recording of a product-related webinar

Bottom of Funnel

Requesting a demo, reading multiple case studies, engaging with your chatbot, reading third-party review sites about you and your competitors’ offerings

This level of analysis helps clarify which of your campaigns and channels are creating the most engagement with your in-market buyers.

Buying Team Engagement

According to Gartner, 14 to 23 people make up a modern day buying team. Your chances of driving more opportunities — and ultimately more revenue — rest in the ability to influence as many individuals within an account as possible.

How to measure: Before you measure the engagement of a buying team (and its members), you must first uncover it. Because each member might be in a different stage of their journey, or remaining anonymous on purpose, you need to rely on those intent signals to uncover who is involved with the deal. (Here’s a more detailed look at how you can uncover your account’s buying team.)

Once you’ve uncovered them, you should be measuring the interactions you’ve had with each member. This includes:

  • Website visits
  • Content downloads
  • Webinar registration
  • Ad interactions

All of those engagements indicate an individual who is aware of your brand and can influence your opportunity.

What to look for: Measure both the level of engagement from individual members within the buying team and your overall engagement across the committee.

Combining all of this information into a matrix or report on your accounts will give you an easy-to-read visual of your penetration at any given target account.

For individuals, be on the lookout for:

  • Number of engagements
  • Type of engagements
  • Channels engaged with
  • Topics most engaged with

For the entire buying team, look for:

  • Number of people engaged
  • Titles reached
  • Departments reached
  • Gaps in your engagement

A persona map reveals the engagement across numerous departments within an entire account, and the level of engagement for individuals.

Learn More in Our ‘No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls’ Resource Center

Interested in learning more about taking your sales and marketing effort to the next level by uncovering and targeting the accounts most likely to buy? Visit our Resource Center to find more How-To’s like this one inspired from the pages of Conant’s book.

All of 6sense’s proceeds from book sales go to GoodSense, the charitable arm of 6sense whose mission is to do our part for our community and beyond.

No Forms.
No Spam.
No Cold Calls.

The 6sense Team

The 6sense Team