The Basics of Account Based Selling
If there’s one thing you can count on in sales, it’s continuous change. Buyer personas evolve, new trends emerge and ever-more advanced technologies hit the market on a monthly basis. To navigate these changes and keep a competitive edge, companies have to adjust and adopt new sales approaches. Account based selling (ABS, for short) is one of the hottest trends in the B2B world today. It’s gaining momentum fast and shaping the sales process in a whole new way.
Let’s take a look at how account based selling works and how it improves sales outcomes.
What is account based selling?
The concept of account based selling mainly applies to the B2B setting. It targets companies, i.e. accounts, as opposed to individual leads. Unlike the lead based approach, ABS focuses on quality rather than quantity of leads.
In the lead-based approach, a sales rep approaches a single decision maker. In ABS, businesses engage organization-wide resources to target multiple stakeholders within a given account. A sound ABS model can boost your conversions, speed up the sales cycle and increase deal value.
ABS is not a new model in itself. After all, the effectiveness of targeted campaigns is hardly a secret. But its use has become easier thanks to the development of advanced CRM solutions. These tools make it possible to predict which accounts are of high value, i.e. most likely to buy. They also help identify the key decision makers within an account.
ABS revolves around providing value for the customer, not just making a sale or getting a deal.
The sales cycle takes a while in corporate sales. This allows sales teams to build rapport with the stakeholders and understand their needs. This way, they are able to position themselves as trusted advisors, not just someone who’s trying to make a sale.
Basically, ABS views every account as a market of one. It’s a highly customized sales approach, with personalized campaigns and content to match. Above all, it requires close cooperation and coordination across all departments. Sales, marketing, customer support and product development teams work together throughout the sales cycle.
Company executives are also actively involved in the sales process. It’s their job to keep the communication alive with account decision makers. They provide strategic advice and make sure their teams have all the resources they need.
What’s typical for ABS is the post-sale care the accounts receive from all departments. This means that your customer support has to provide the new client with guidance for the best product experience. In fact, a quality client onboarding is essential if you want to retain the account long-term.
The job of your support team is to welcome the client and show them you are ready to address their concerns. This includes organizing training sessions to teach the client about product features and how to handle specific situations.
Product development teams focus on product improvements based on client feedback and specifications. In B2B sales, you can’t miss any opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. Once the deal is closed, sales and marketing should work together to identify all such opportunities.
Is the ABS model the right thing for your business?
If you’re contemplating an account based sales approach, think it over thoroughly. Is this the right approach for you? Before you make a decision, consider some of the following.
Your customer profile. The ABS approach will work if you’re targeting large businesses. It’s a different story if you’re selling to individuals or small businesses. In this case, your investment in resources and workforce will likely exceed the deal sizes you can expect from these efforts.
The number of decision-makers in the targeted account. If you are targeting accounts with multiple decision makers, ABS is the right approach. Strategic deployment of ABS efforts across the account will speed up the decision making process. Also, communication with the stakeholders will help identify possible issues that may stall or break the deal.
The length of the sales cycle. Corporate deals are complex. It takes time to develop your web of contacts within the account and come up with the right messaging strategy. So, the sales cycle should last at least several months for ABS to be applicable to your situation.
The nature of your products and services. If you are selling one–time purchase products, you might want to reconsider. ABS works best for subscription-based products. In this setting, you have time to develop a relationship with the client and address their needs. It also allows you to identify additional revenue opportunities. And as long as you deliver in terms of product quality and customer support, you’ll have won the client’s loyalty.
Benefits of the ABS model
Let’s look at what you can expect to gain by implementing the ABS model.
Find the best prospects for your business. One of the main goals of ABS is to identify the opportunities with the highest probability of purchase.
Improve email response rates through sending highly personalized content to the stakeholders. As a highly targeted model, ABS provides sales teams with detailed and relevant information about the account. This way, they can customize and tweak their approach for maximum response. This includes personalized email messaging using the various advanced marketing automation tools that are available to us today.
Revenue increase. In the world of corporate sales, deals are sizable. And with good coordination of efforts, you can speed up the sales cycle and use your resources more efficiently.
ABS can also boost employee morale and improve productivity. It stands to reason that your sales teams would prefer dealing with qualified leads. It beats the alternative of trying to get poor leads to respond just for the sake of lead quantity. Engaging with quality prospects will provide your teams with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
How to switch your sales approach to ABS
If you decide to give account based selling a try, keep in mind that every transition takes time. You can’t abruptly switch from a lead-based model to ABS. So, it’s best to transition in stages.
Creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) is at the heart of ABS. Without an ICP, you’ll be wasting precious time on the wrong prospects. By the same token, you’ll be neglecting leads that are a perfectly good fit for your product or service. This translates into a waste of resources, talent and ultimately revenue.
Identify your ICP by considering several key criteria. These include prior purchases, company size, employee number, revenue, location, and industry. Use this data to identify accounts that would show the highest loyalty to your brand and spend the most.
Next, select a number of qualified accounts and assign a third of your best people to work on them. Gradually increase this number as soon as the results become visible. Give it time, even as much as a year, to fully complete the transition.
Identify the key stakeholders that hold the decision making power. These will be the focal points of your account based selling efforts.
Design personalized content that addresses the concerns and pain points of each decision maker.
Make sure all your actions are part of a well-orchestrated strategy. Devise a good plan and stick to it. This will help you track your progress and identify areas of your ABS strategy that need tweaking.
Learn from these experiences so you can better prepare for your next large account.
Are you thinking about switching to an account based sales approach? You can greatly improve your sales outcome by including DemandZEN as a trusted partner in your ABS efforts.
The purpose of account based selling is to transform prospects into revenue. Our experts can help you optimize the sales pipeline, shortening the buyer’s journey from interest to a final decision.
Think of DemandZEN as an extension of your marketing and sales teams, driving a unified approach for best sales outcomes.
Are you ready to explore new opportunities for business growth? If so, contact DemandZEN today to discuss how we may assist you in reaching those new levels of success.
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DemandZEN specializes in Account-Based Demand Generation and solving the challenges around finding, engaging and converting target accounts into real opportunities for B2B Technology and Services companies.