How To Get Started With Account-Based Selling

July 9, 2015 Sam Laber

Account-based marketing is a growing trend that has recently adopted a sales wing. Having an account-centric sales approach is nothing new, but there are some nuances. Below is a little 4-step process you can follow to properly implement ABS.

Step 1: Unify sales, marketing, and customer success

account-based sales

ABS won’t be limited to just the sales team. You must align internal departments in order to extract the most value. In this context, it’s imperative to think big picture: a unified, overlapping venture between sales, marketing, and customer success is absolutely essential if you want a considerable return on your team’s efforts. Here’s a few items that we recommend each branch of your organization be tasked with:

For sales , you’ll want to coach your reps to find a balance between quantity and quality, and put more of an emphasis on relationship management rather than direct selling. Sales reps should be trained to act as a resource for prospects by providing them with the right content, collateral, and support to make an informed buying decision.

Per usual, marketing should be tasked with providing support to sales. They’ll build lists and maintain named accounts, while making sure sales is equipped with poignant sales collateral (e.g. case studies, industry reports, use cases). They’ll also nurture leads, which may require account-based marketing solutions like DemandBase, Terminus, or LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (i.e. Bizo). These allow marketers to upload account lists and target these domains across the web via display ads, sponsored content, and more.

The customer success team comes into play once a deal is closed. Their job is to provide your key accounts with a great experience by creating a smooth on-boarding process,  fielding customer feedback, and generating results that foster contract renewals. On top of this, they’ll also work jointly with your sales reps to identify upsells and serve as a champion with the engineering team, should there be any feature requests.

Step 2: Take the time to organize your CRM data

Your CRM is the essential core of any ABS strategy. It serves as the principal information center across departments and must be organized at the account level (a tool like LeanData can help). Following this strategy, everything rolls up to the account, which impacts the business in a number of ways:

  1. It fosters better lead routing and communication between inbound and outbound.
  2. There’s no duplicate outreach, which is especially helpful for SDRs.
  3. There’s a single point of contact for questions and support inquiries.
  4. It enables an easy transition for new SDR hires, who can be passed a previous named account list.
  5. Managers have better access to individual performance and account penetration.

Organizing everything at the account level also gives each team more visibility and control. Sales reps are given more selling power, because they’re easily able to identify which accounts contain inbound leads. Marketing can achieve a clearer view of the funnel by reporting at the account and opportunity level (we all know looking at the lead level doesn’t tell the full story of a deal). And the customer success team will be able to easily identify upsells by seeing which customers have users on a free plan.

Step 3: Do more research than anyone else

A key outcome of effective ABS is knowing more about your targets than your competitors do, and as a result, standing out and booking the meeting. For this to happen, you need to:

  1. Verify that the account should be doing business with you based on your assessment of need and fit.
  2. Really dig into things in order to understand what’s happening internally at these accounts.

In part 2, we’ll outline the step-by-step process we use to gain these exceptional insights.

Step 4: Develop intelligent and personalized outreach campaigns

Simple, yet personalized outreach messages are crucial to getting the attention of key decision makers. You must keep in mind that different roles (i.e. CXOs, VPs, Managers) require, in the vast majority of cases, different types of messaging.

It’s also imperative to be aware that these important contacts at your target accounts will likely require numerous forms of communication before they respond. While some of these are standard (e.g. email, Twitter), identifying an arsenal of other channels (and understanding in which cases to use each) is another way to embed your outreach on their radar.

Part 3 will explore some of our best ideas on how to go about reaching your prospects through multiple channels. 

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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