Account Based Sales Development is a coordinated strategy that combines personalized, multi-channel, multi-threaded, outbound activities to create high-value opportunities in new and existing customers. The new Account Based Sales Development model is light-years ahead of yesterday’s siloed sales development and demand generation models. New technology, better processes, and smarter people are changing the game.
Account Based Sales Development is a huge step from the original telesales ‘boiler rooms’ in a few key ways:
It’s targeted – aimed at selected, named accounts, not huge, undifferentiated lists
It’s personalized – based on relevant, crafted conversations instead of standard, one-size-fits-all scripts
It’s researched – driven by systematic insight generation (not two minutes on LinkedIn)
It’s multi-channel – maximizing reach by using all channels, not massive spamming campaigns
It’s integrated – a coordinated effort supported by marketing – not another silo
It’s patient – with less emphasis on short-term calls-to-action such as demos and more on high-value engagements such as meetings to share insights or trends
TOPO Research, one of the pioneers of account based thinking and the new sales development discipline, puts it this way: "Unlike ‘batch and blast’ outbound sales development in which SDRs send large volumes of template-based messages, Account Based Sales Development is personalized to the account and person receiving the message." According to their benchmark study:
45% of sales development teams today are already account based (even if not fully evolved)
27% are partially account based
28% are ‘green field’ (reaching out to the whole market).
Three years ago, these numbers would have been reversed. They go on to explain how Account Based Sales Development is today’s most effective account-based tactic. Instead of leaning on the high-volume numbers game for outbound campaigns, organizations are becoming more strategic. They’re defining a smaller, more targeted set of accounts and running personalized, buyer-centric campaigns against those accounts.
It becomes a focus on quality over quantity.
This approach is more sophisticated and effective than ‘hitting the phones’ or blasting out emails. You never sit back and wait for opportunities, but rather go out and create them. It's just as powerful for customer success as it is for acquisition. Companies target the entire buying team as a team, not as isolated individuals. Finally, it’s built on relevance and value for each individual on the team, which demands alignment and orchestration between marketing, sales development, and sales.
The Who/What/Where Framework
This new approach also calls for a new framework, a framework that flips the funnel. Traditional demand generation starts with the question of "what do we want to say?" where ABSD starts with the buyer (the who) and works up from there:
In old-school prospecting, companies let the sales development team (generally recent graduates) decide who they wanted to call. In today's age of account based thinking, who to call is a highly strategic decision, made from above, and at the start of any ABSD program.
The truth is, picking the wrong accounts is the biggest mistake you can make. The most important decision you’ll make in your ABSD strategy is the list of accounts you decide to target. In other words, “The Who.”
The idea is simple: you need to focus 100% of your efforts on the right targets, not 80% or 90%.
Selecting accounts is a combination of art and science, intuition and logic. Companies combine gut feel, historical performance, and sometimes predictive data science to develop an Ideal Customer Profile.
"Most companies believe they have a solid understanding of their ideal customer profile and that it has been communicated across the organization. In reality, they have dozens of different assumptions floating around.”
- Trish Bertuzzi, The Sales Development Playbook
Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
The process of choosing target accounts comes down to a specific definition (ICP) of companies that best match your goals. This definition includes the key dimensions that define high-value accounts that are most likely to buy, including things like:
Firmographics – company revenue, growth rate, number of employees, industry, location, structure, etc.
Pain points – Are they experiencing the problems you solve?
Technographics – What other systems do they use?
Behaviors – Do your best prospects do similar things? Past behavior is a great guide to future decisions.
Strategy – Are they pursuing a strategy that’s consistent with deploying your solutions?
Region – Do you have sales coverage in their region or country?
One way to decide on your ICP is to reverse-engineer your existing best customers to see what they have in common. Another way is to analyze the best customers of your closest competitors - where are they winning and why?
This is the tip of the iceberg when thinking about building your Account Based Sales Development process. We’re excited to bring you more information on this topic in our free webinar, The Rise of Account Based Sales Development,next Thursday, January 26th, at 10:00 am PST. Join us as we take a deeper dive into what it takes to be successful in the competitive B2B environment. Click hereto register!
Jon Miller is a marketing entrepreneur and thought leader. He is the CEO and co-founder of Engagio, an account based platform that orchestrates outbound interactions across departments and channels. Previously, Jon was a co-founder at Marketo (Nasdaq:MKTO), a leader in marketing automation. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple marketing books including Engagio's Clear and Complete Guides to Account Based Marketing and Sales Development, and Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.