Everything You Need to Know About Account Based Sales Development

Content Marketing ‌• April 15, 2017

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It’s no longer enough to cold call prospective clients and expect them to buy on the spot. In today’s sales environment, you may need to use different technologies across the sales stack and tactically go after targeted accounts. Doesn’t that sound much better than the legwork that goes into chasing down individual leads?

With account-based sales development (ABSD), you can take your organization to the top. Implementing this prospecting strategy will have your sales team producing more qualified leads than ever.

According data from research firm TOPO, 72% of outbound sales teams currently have account-based programs in place, but only half are fully implemented. So why is that? The short answer is that it takes time to successfully implement the best ABSD strategy across an organization.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Let’s discuss account-based sales development and how you can put it in place to improve sales and improve your overall business model.

What is Account-Based Sales Development?

ABSD is technically defined as a concerted effort against a specific set of target accounts.
The framework goes as follows: an SDR is provided with a list of accounts that line up with the company’s ideal customer profile (ICP), which the sales rep then transform into a multi-touch campaign.

What it boils down to is implementing a sales/marketing strategy that puts your brand in front of the accounts that have the highest likelihood of buying from you. Through buyer-centric messaging and personalized outreach, the goal is to convert these accounts into long term revenue streams.

Who Should Implement an ABSD Strategy?

While an ABSD strategy can be useful to many organizations, certain companies should stay away from the practice. Small and medium businesses may find it more burdensome than helpful, as the cost of time spent on implementation may beyond that of the return. In the case of SMB, you’re better off with a high-volume, fast-paced sales process.

If you can’t afford to isolate your audience into one specific ICP, essentially neglecting those that are in the margins, account-based sales development probably isn’t best for your organization.

Benefits of ABSD

With ABSD, you’re providing any number of sales reps with the prospecting capabilities of a number of channels that reach decision makers. Additionally, ABSD provides many other benefits that improve the overall close rate, such as:

Quicker growth rate.

Focusing on the high-value accounts that provide the largest revenue stream to your business allows for more personalized messaging.

Only focus on the accounts that matter.

With account-based marketing you can funnel resources to the accounts that matter, and spend less time and money developing materials for accounts that may or may not buy.

Organizes the sales approach.

With ABSD, you’re creating a framework that’s more efficient by decreasing the volume of items needed and spending more time on strategy.

Increase response rates.

With personalized messages, targets are more likely to develop an emotional connection with the brand and reply to directly-related communication materials.

Track performance more proficiently.

With fewer accounts, it’s logistically easier to track and manage performance goals.

Boost Brand Reputation.

When you target accounts that you’ve already worked with, you’re targeting a lead that’s already qualified. Without prospecting to hinder the sales process, you have more time to spend on messaging to increase the quality of your interactions.

How to Implement a Account-Based Sales Development Strategy

Now that you know the basics of ABSD, you can start implementing your strategy. To start, you should have a working knowledge of your sales history, ICP and overall customer base. Here are the steps you should take to build a framework:

  1. Gain a list of your current customer base. Expand the list by adding targeted accounts. Pinpoint the characteristics, lifestyle and personality of your ideal client as well as the list of your current customers, and compare them against one another. The goal here is to understand which attributes the two groups have in common. This way you can tailor your strategy according to those customers and prospects that best fit the profile.
  2. Meet and discuss with potential buyers, executives, industry leaders or other groups that can provide insight into your offer. If they can’t see value in your offer, then you need to reanalyze your message.
  3. Consider any competitor strategy and use that to better position yourself in the market. Who are they targeting and how are they offering their product or service? Ask yourself if you can improve upon anything that they’re currently doing.
  4. Link the sales and marketing teams, and any other divisions that are involved in the outreach process. When these two teams can collaborate, your organization will develop a more cohesive multi-touch campaign.
  5. Set sales goals and assign internal tasks.
  6. Start developing your sales outreach materials targeting the accounts that you’ve identified in the previous steps. This could include everything from a personal call or email, to an industry-specific brochure or direct mail campaign, to a personalized product demonstration.

Tools of the Trade

As the world of business has continued to change and technologies evolve, so too has the art and science of sales development. The leaders in the field of sales are constantly evaluating new best practice ideas and sales solutions to help keep processes as lean as possible. Many of the most forward-leaning companies are using ABSD as their main outbound strategy as a means to accomplish that goal.

There have been many account-based selling softwares that have cropped up throughout the past decade, providing the modern-day sales rep with a toolbox with everything they need. If you’re in the world of sales, you should implement a software solutions today.

Some of the most trusted programs include a litany of benefits, such as:

  • Synchronized data across the platform, so internal teams can collaborate easier.
  • Targeting capabilities, to better understand accounts and drive the sales process.
  • In-depth analytics that can track and benchmark performance.
  • Gamification features to create competition that motivates reps.
  • An accurate forecasting ability that lets you monitor process.
  • Reporting generation that simplifies the reporting process.

How to Track the Progress of Your ABSD Strategy

When implementing your account-based strategy, you should set your revenue goals – but just as important is deciding how you’ll measure progress towards those goals. Here are a few main KPI’s that you can start with:

  1. Connection rate
    The connection rate refers to the amount of accounts that engaged in a meaningful sales connection. To get the percentage of your connection rate, take the total number of connections and divide that by the number of prospects that engaged with the message.
  2. Dials, emails or contacts per day
    This will help you measure communication results against sale’s reps activity. Account-based sales take more time, so keep that in mind as you’re analyzing data.
  3. Pass rate
    The pass rate applies to those qualified leads that passed on a sale. Understanding who is passing will help you understand why they’re not buying. With that, you can identify which area of your funnel is weaker than the others.
  4. Conversation to appointment rate
    How many of your conversations are actually leading to appointments? With this data, you can pin down the quality of your account-based messaging and tweak it as needed.
  5. Pipeline rate
    This information provides insight into the number of leads that are accepted in the sales cycle. Making your pipeline effective depends on this number being high.
  6. Task completion rate
    By analyzing the task completion rate, you can see which sales reps are keeping up or falling behind on their duties so you can better adjust an account’s resources.

In Conclusion

To take your sales strategy to the next level, you should consider implementing account-based sales development. With this, you can better target already-qualified leads to create a streamlined revenue generation machine.

While it takes time and money to build an ABSD from the ground up, many organizations could benefit from the investment. And while not every organization should pursue the practice, it offers numerous benefits to those that do, including quick revenue growth, highly-focused messaging and an increased close rate.

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