The Rise of Account Based Sales Development Practice and Strategy

The following is an excerpt from a brand new eBook from Ambition, PersistIQ and LeadGenius: Bridging the Gap: The Basics of Account Based Marketing and Selling.

Account based strategies work because they incorporate everything B2B marketing and sales teams do to target, close, and grow the best possible accounts. Account based strategies are not only personalized, they leverage basic human emotions and group dynamics for more effective selling.

Account-based marketing has boomed in the last two years, in large part because technology now automates the process of decision maker identification. With an account-based approach, every buyer can feel that the sales process is customized specifically for them.

B2B sales reps should be willing to walk a mile in their customers’ shoes. Successful account based strategies are grounded with emotion. Empathy is key to building out your buyer personas and understanding your audience’s motivations and pain points.

Engage.io’s John Miller has a great distillation on why Account Based Marketing works. “First and foremost: Reach the right people with a targeted strategy. That’s ABM. Rather than waiting around for the right people from the right companies to come swimming to your net, ABM allows you to reach out to the right people with a targeted strategy.”

Add in the fact that B2B purchases always close faster with organizational buy-in, and you have quite a compelling case for account based marketing and sales.

Account Based Strategy: Familiar Principles & Key Concepts

Well-orchestrated account based strategies share a few fundamental characteristics. To quote Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures, “An Account Based Strategy is built on the idea of creating many advocates within a company in order to close a sale. Sales and marketing teams use ABS to concentrate their efforts on a discrete list of target accounts.”

Account Based Strategies are not a departure from what many would recognize as “regular” or “traditional” marketing and sales. Rather, Account Based Strategies are a combination of familiar principles applied and concentrated toward a B2B audience.

Predictable Lead Generation

One of the hallmarks of a solid SDR program is that lead generation (and the cost of securing those leads) is predictable from month to month and quarter to quarter.

If your lead projection numbers fall consistently off target (either positively or negatively), it’s time to pinpoint why. Even if your efforts generate significantly more leads than expected for a given time period, it can be concerning. While it’s usually good to have more leads (in most cases—see a caveat to this rule later in the list), you want to ensure you understand what is driving the increase in leads. Fine-tuning the measurement of your outbound marketing campaigns so that you understand what the levers are for each tactic and what effect it has on the outcome is key to accurately projecting lead volume. And a more accurate projection of lead volume not only demonstrates the value of marketing to the rest of the business, but it also shows that you are in firm command of what works, why, and what the business can expect as a result.

Group Dynamics

An account based marketing strategy is similar to what is traditionally called enterprise sales. The primary difference is that an account based strategy can be used to target a company of any size. Instead of messaging only to decision makers within a company, sales and marketing work together to simultaneously target multiple decision makers, with different roles and responsibilities. The concept involves leveraging dynamics of group psychology to close an account.

Rather than waiting for a decision maker to make a move, inbound companies using an account based strategy aim to speed up their sales cycle by targeting additional influencers directly.

By the time the decision maker at the company requests a demo, there will be a panel of people at the company who are knowledgeable about what you offer. When they go into their next meeting, your company’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

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Personalization

Today’s sales teams are challenged with sending tens of thousands of emails while maintaining a high standard of customization in each message. The more specific, accurate merge fields available, the greater the capacity for personalization. The more personalized an email, the greater the likelihood of a positive response. Even with a proven process, personalization at scale is hard, however, and not everyone knows how to do this effectively, so it’s important to hire and train well across your sales and marketing teams.

In order for these principles to be effective, Account Based Strategies must be applied all the way through the marketing and sales process. The gap between sales and marketing is an age-old chasm. Now more than ever, the Sales Development Representative (SDR) plays a key role in bridging the gap between sales and marketing.

The Rise of the Sales Development Rep

Lars Nilsson, VP of Global Inside Sales at Cloudera who coined the term Account Based Sales Development states: “I called it ABSD because it is very much the SDR whom has the focus and control of both the technology and the multi-step processes that have to come together in order to execute a flawless outbound campaign. The SDR is, in essence, the quarterback for ABSD and can allow for scale across your target accounts.”

The largest and easiest cost to overlook for any SDR program always comes down to one thing: time.

Tired & headache asian businessman work overtime

And what is the most important activity that reps spend their time doing? Generating leads! With the recent role specification and birth of the SDR, sales teams have gone from buying leads to bringing the task in-house. Provide your SDRs with all the training and technology to succeed, and the true cost of even a small team of 6 reps can cost upward of $30K per month. That covers salary, coaching and training, technology, and everything else for a fully operational sales team. That’s a lot of money to protect someone’s time.

So, what do we do to protect the reps’ time? We invest in tools and technologies that will help automate pieces of their job, making them better, fast and stronger.

The SDR Makes an Account Based Strategy Possible

Any new customer is a good customer, right?

Not necessarily. As your business grows, a sign of maturity is making the shift from simply growing your customer base to focusing on acquiring the right kind of customers.

A key question SDRs must ask themselves around targeting alignment is, “What customers will best support our company’s retention and long-term growth goals?” Thinking strategically about the type of customer you want to make contact with and move through your lead funnel allows you to tailor account based strategies to meet that customer wherever he or she lives online. Another way to identify whether your account based strategy suffers from target misalignment is to look at post-sales relationships from an internal perspective.

For example, if your customer success team is constantly irritated with your sales teams for selling the “wrong” kinds of clients, then it’s on the marketing department’s shoulders to reassess targeting approaches to ensure your efforts are driving the right types of opportunities.

Once this is in place, the next step is to map out exactly what this hand off looks like.

Learn More with the Free eBook

We’ll talk more about how to build the right sales stack and what works best for your company later in this eBook. To download your free copy, visit accountbasedebook.com.

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