Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ

Account-based selling is one of the most effective strategies your inside sales team can run. 

Data from Sirius Decisions found 91% of companies report a better pipeline conversion rate with an account-based approach than with a non-account-based approach.

 That’s a massive majority by anyone’s standards. 

If your SDRs are struggling to book appointments that convert, a more selective, personalised approach could be transformative. Here’s everything sales managers need to know and do to get their inside sales team succeeding with an account-based approach.

What is Account-Based Selling?

Account-based selling is derived from the account-based marketing strategy that has become incredibly popular in the U.S. following the success of Salesforce. 

Rather than emailing every company in the phonebook or buying incredibly broad (and very poor quality) databases, SDRs take a more focused and personalized approach to sales. They focus on the companies most likely to convert, rather than trying to sell to everyone.

In essence, it is quality over quantity. You focus on a smaller pool of prospects, but you get much better results. 

Does Account-Based Selling Make Sense For Your Brand?

Better quality results may make account-based selling seem like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t work for everyone. In reality, if ABS doesn’t align with your pricing model, it can be an incredibly expensive and ineffective way to sell.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to know whether ABS will work for you or not: the bigger your average sales price, the more effective account-based selling will be. In particular, Trish Bertuzzi, author of The Sales Development Playbook, says that account-based sales only makes sense if your average deal size is more than $50,000.

Account-based selling also works for brands who care deeply about their reputation. “The spray-and-pray model is what gives sales teams and companies a bad reputation,” writes marketer Megan Tonzi. 

“The combination of impersonal messaging directed at contacts that may not be qualified, sent out at a high volume, burns your brand’s reputation. When you’re selling at the account level, you mitigate that risk and avoid the actions that burn reputation. Since accounts are pre-qualified and you’re taking more time with messaging, you are no longer interrupting prospects at every turn and you’re creating more value with each interaction.”

The spray-and-pray model is what gives sales teams and companies a bad reputation,

Why You Need SDRs to Succeed With ABS

At this point, you may be wondering whether you need sales development reps at all for such a focused and personalised strategy. Isn’t ABS something that marketing teams and sales executives can execute between them?

In a word, no. SDRs play a pivotal role in an account-based selling strategy. The level of contact and personalisation that is needed to succeed with ABS as opposed to a smile and dial strategy requires a team of full-time sales reps, as well as executives who focus on closing deals.

You see, most sales executives don’t have the time to personalise their prospecting and outreach efforts while also closing client accounts. Marketing teams are equally too busy generating inbound leads to qualify them, let alone find new prospects through outbound efforts. 

No, to do account-based selling successfully, it’s essential to have at least one full-time employee (or outsourced sales team) focused on finding, qualifying and booking meetings with target accounts.

Get Started With ABS in 4 Easy Steps

Clear on the why? Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Use these four steps to start account-based selling today.

Have a Clear Picture of Your Target Account

Your success with account-based selling can hinge on how strong your ideal customer profile is. We recommend starting with a list of your best clients and looking at everything they have in common. What industry are they in? How big are they? Where are they based? Who do they serve? You get the idea.

The more detailed you get, the better. Eric Martin, the Senior Director of Demand Generation at Salesloft, stresses the importance of having a very focused picture of the perfect client. These are accounts that close, he says, not just the ones that fill in forms or book meetings.

It’s not just companies you want a clear picture of; you’ll want to know exactly which stakeholders to target within those companies. Who it is will depend on what you’re selling. Of course, they should be a decision-maker. Ideally, your SDRs will identify several people at the target company who could be the right decision-maker to increase their chances of making a connection and booking a meeting.

Make a Point of Personalisation

The whole point of account-based selling is to treat every account as unique. It (almost) goes without saying then that your SDRs will need to personalise their outreach approach as a result.

To be clear, we aren’t saying your reps have to take a completely different approach when reaching out to every single prospect — at least not initially. Scripts, opening lines and cadences can all be kept largely the same.

But there needs to be an element of personalisation within each of those for your reps to i) stand out from every other salesperson, ii) prove they are targeting a small number of accounts for a specific reason, and iii) are targeting a specific person at that company for a specific reason.

Having your SDRs separate themselves from other sales reps and earn the trust of their prospect is crucial. Often this means they will have to go beyond simply personalising the first line of an email or the opening line of a call. SDRs should be using every interaction — as well as LinkedIn and Twitter profiles — to build a detailed and in-depth picture of the prospect that they can use to personalise every touchpoint and make every interaction incredibly relevant.

Focus on the Prospect, Not the Product

Personalisation must go even further, though. Value-based selling is only effective if you understand the unique pain points of every prospect and can tailor your sales message appropriately. 

For SDRs, this translates into asking open-ended questions and then shutting the heck up. Do this successfully, and your prospects will tell you exactly what you need to say in order to convert them. All you have to is give it to them.

The beauty of value-based selling is that there’s not much hard-selling involved at all. If you have done a good job identifying your ideal prospect, can get in front of them and listen to what they have to say, it’s just a matter of proving that your product can deliver what they need. 

In practice, this means SDRs shouldn’t be selling your product’s features. They should be selling the outcomes it can achieve for the prospect and the results they have already achieved for other organizations. Show don’t tell is the name of the game.

Make Calls, Send Emails, Follow Up

Account-based selling may be less of a numbers game than more traditional sales tactics, but your SDRs will still need to put in the hard yards. ABS certainly isn’t an excuse to slack off and not pick up the phone. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. Because your SDRs won’t get through to prospects the vast majority of the time, it’s important they make a lot of calls each day. We recommend aiming for around 100. They should be leaving voicemails, sending emails and connecting with prospects on LinkedIn, too.

The SDRs who have the most success with ABS are almost always the ones who are most persistent. It’s only when you get through to a prospect and make a connection that you can really start to personalise your approach. Until then, you’ve got to hit the phones as hard as anyone else.

How EngageIQ Empowers Account-Based Selling

The right technology can be a huge boost to sales teams, writes Account-Based Marketing Strategist Jessica Fewless

“Introducing technology into the SDRs role can be beneficial; It not only increases productivity, but also can work to give SDRs a more in-depth insight into companies, thus allowing them to tailor messages that are more relevant to the prospect.”

As Fewless alludes to, successful account-based selling comes down to two things: being efficient (focusing on quality over quantity) and having enough insight into a company to craft a compelling pitch.

EngageIQ helps your team with both. By combining our proprietary data with a machine learning algorithm, we’re able to pinpoint the companies your sales team should be targeting and give you the insight you need to make a successful approach. Request a demo today.


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