Account Based Sales: B2B Sales StrategyAccount-based selling isn’t a new concept– but it’s recently exploded as a common practice in sales and marketing circles. Although many predicted the account-based framework would be nothing more than a short-lived trend, it’s actually proven to be a highly effective sales strategy. In fact, 86% of sales and marketing professionals have begun using targeted account strategies to generate new business for their companies.
What is Account Based Selling?Account-Based Sales Development (ABSD) is a strategic prospecting process that involves selling to targeted and highly valued accounts rather than focusing your prospecting efforts at the contact level. Using ABSD, one or multiple sales development representatives are prospecting into a specific number of pre-qualified accounts simultaneously, using multiple channels and targeting multiple decision makers to account for these shifts in the decision-making process.
Account Based Sales Development Best Practices
1) Prioritize Sales and Marketing AlignmentThe foundation of any effective account-based sales or marketing strategy is alignment between the sales and marketing teams. Without a coordinated effort between the two, your account-based sales strategy is doomed. The good news is, an account-based methodology inherently facilitates better sales and marketing alignment. It forces the two teams to work together, rather than against each other. If you’re struggling to get both departments on board, try some of these tips:
- Plan: Develop a shared plan that maps leads to prospects and prospects to revenue—and stick to it.
- Define: Agree upon the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)—and hold both teams accountable.
- Analyze: Take a full funnel view of conversion rates and costs to truly understand where leads come from and how they convert.
- Connect: Hold a weekly meeting between sales and marketing leadership with a set agenda.
- Question: Constantly challenge assumptions and improve the customer acquisition and retention processes.
2) Build Your Ideal Customer ProfileAn Ideal Customer Profile—or an ICP—is made up of firmographic and behavioral characteristics that define your most valuable customers. Creating an ICP allows you to develop measurable strategies to attract and convert top buyers. An ICP can inform your entire business strategy from content creation to sales outreach by answering critical questions about the people who need your products—questions such as:
- What are your best customers’ buying motivations and triggers?
- Where and how do your best customers prefer to be engaged?
- What type of messaging resonates with your best customers?
3) Identify Your Target AccountsThe next, and arguably most important, step is to identify your target accounts. There are two key considerations that come into play here—account coverage and account quality. Let’s start with account coverage. This phrase refers to your team’s ability to identify and penetrate a large number of key accounts. Here’s why account coverage is a vital component to any account-based selling strategy: If you have many target accounts but low levels of account penetration, you’ll have a difficult time converting those accounts into customers. On the flip side, if you have only a few target accounts with optimal account penetration, you’ll only ever be able to close a few deals. This image illustrates what we mean:
Concept adapted from BizibleTo understand and measure account coverage, use these two metrics:
- Percentage of accounts you’ve engaged within your target market.
- Percentage of key personnel you’ve engaged with from within each of your target accounts.
4) Develop a content and outreach strategy that speaks to your target accounts.Here’s the part of the account-based selling process where your sales and marketing teams must really be in sync. Remember, the goal of account-based selling is to treat each company like a market of one. Not only do you have to speak to each company’s specific needs, but you also need to speak to each contact’s specific needs as well. This includes each contact’s stage of the buyer’s journey, their specific job responsibilities, and any other concerns they may have. Content development typically falls in the hands of marketing, but, as a sales rep, you know your accounts and customers best. Therefore, it’s your job to communicate with your marketing team about the types of content they need to create and also provide feedback when you think something looks off. If you’re interested in the content portion of account-based marketing, here’s a helpful article: 7 Pieces of Marketing Collateral to Include in Your Sales Process.
5) Measure, Test, and OptimizeWe’ll let you in on a little secret—the key to successful account-based selling lies in your data and analytics. Think about it: You need customer and prospect data to form your ICP, you need analytics regarding your content and outreach strategy, and you also need performance metrics to determine how successful your efforts are. Account-based selling is truly a data-driven sales strategy. Each and every decision you make can—and should—be backed by data. That way, you can run tests and optimize your campaigns to generate the best results. Here are a few key metrics to track, some of which have already been mentioned in this article:
- Percentage of key contacts you’ve engaged from each target account.
- Percentage of accounts you’ve engaged from within your target market.
- Account quality score.
- Opportunities and revenue generated.
- Account engagement.
- Improvement over time.