According to Google Trends, interest in account-based sales is on the rise. It is a sales model which seeks to solve sales requirements for sales teams among many other facets. An account-based model treats every account like a market of one. Instead of one salesperson targeting a single contact within a company, an entire team is dedicated to targeting multiple stakeholders at the prospective customer’s company.
Before the questions come let’s understand the model more and what it ultimately seeks to achieve.
Account-based selling is a multi-channel strategy co-ordinated across the entire company to pursue a target number of high value accounts. Generally, marketing and sales work together to close these accounts and customer success delivers a custom on boarding experience. Moving forward, account managers and marketers work collaboratively to up-sell and cross-sell these clients. It’s an engine firing through all pistons to achieve the same goal.
A successful account-based approach requires cross-department co-ordination. Every team sales, sales development, marketing, customer success, finance, product, human resources, must be aligned. It then becomes the “Account-Based everything” or ABE.
No matter what you call it, this approach is not relatively new: Enterprise salespeople have and continue to use an account-level approach for a long time. There are no “hand-offs” in an Account Based Everything (ABE) model. Instead, Marketing and Sales work together from the very start, and throughout the revenue cycle.
Different terms for the same task
There are a number of different names for the account-based model, from Account Based Marketing (ABM), Account-Based Sales (ABS), Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) they all share the same DNA and approach, that of sales, marketing, and other relevant teams working together to close targeted, individual accounts with an approach that’s unique to a clients needs.
Executives are also involved in closing these accounts giving strategic direction, meeting with customer stakeholders, helping the account team acquire any necessary resources, and so on.
Level of focus
ABS maintains this account-level focus after the sale. Customer success managers deliver a custom on boarding experience, then work to develop relationships with multiple stakeholders at multiple levels (rather than leaving an account’s success to a single advocate, power user, or internal champion).
Meanwhile, account managers and marketers work hand-in-hand to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The product team uses insights from customer stakeholders to plan new features and develop potential use cases.
Who should use account-based selling?
Successfully implementing an ABS model requires company-wide buy-in. Before you end your current business model, determine whether you’re the right fit with the following five questions.
Account based sales criteria
(1) Who are our customers?
If you’re selling to SMBs, ABS is likely the wrong approach. You can’t afford to dedicate the necessary manpower and resources to every account.
The answer is less black and white if your customers are mid-market. If your average deal size is greater than $20 000, I highly recommend an account-based approach given the level and size of the skill.
If you provide enterprise or complex solutions, you’re probably targeting a select number of high-value accounts already especially in the tech world.
(2) How well do we know our ideal customers?
ABS requires precision of target accounts. If you’re still determining product-market fit, or you don’t have enough data or existing customers to identify their common characteristics, consider holding off on ABS.
(3) How many customer stakeholders are involved in our average deal?
As the number of people involved in the purchasing decision rises, so does the need for a multi-threaded, or ABS, approach. Targeting every stakeholder within the organisation (as opposed to one or two) minimises the risk the deal will stall or fall through if your contact(s) change jobs, go on leave, take a trip, get sick, and so on. It also helps you facilitate consensus: You can identify potential blockers and address their concerns before they stop the deal in its tracks.
(4) How long is our average sales cycle?
Deal complexity and sales cycle are highly correlated. If your average sales cycle lasts three or more months, ABS makes sense.
(5) What’s the nature of our product?
Because ABS delivers a tightly integrated experience across sales, marketing, and customer support, it’s a great fit for subscription-based products. Customers are far less likely to churn when your messaging is clear and consistent and you uphold your claims.
This also provides an opportunity to up-sell and/or cross-sell, making ABE an optimal approach if you offer a variety of packages, tiers, add-ons, or complementary services.
If, on the other hand, you offer a one-time purchase product, explore other possibilities before committing to ABS.
What’s an ideal customer profile?
When you focus your time, energy, and resources on a limited number of accounts, being highly selective with those accounts is crucial. You’re putting all of your eggs in a couple baskets, if you target the wrong company, it’ll have a noticeable impact on your revenue. Not to mention the opportunity cost: Every poor fit your team targets means you miss out on a potential great fit.
Hence a huge component of ABS is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The ICP defines your most valuable customers and prospects who are also most likely to buy. It’s a no brainer that having an Ideal Customer Profile lets you decide whether to target an account without bringing together your entire leadership team.
This ensures you do not put yourselves in a position of gathering in a conference room every three months to debate which companies should be on the main list.
We resume the second part of account Based Profiling in the next article as we zero in on a sample frame work to use. Enjoy your weekend.
The views given herein are solely for information purposes; they are guidelines and suggestions and are not guaranteed to work in any particular way.