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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

Is Account Based Sales Development Right For Your Organization?

Posted by Jon Miller on Nov 8, 2016 10:47:42 AM

account-based-sales-development.jpgAccount Based Sales Development (ABSD) is a huge step forward for the world of sales development. It's much more sophisticated and effective than ‘hitting the phones’ or blasting out emails. Kristina McMillan, Sales Development Practice Leader at TOPO says, “The new Account Based Sales Development leaps ahead of yesterday’s siloed sales development.”

Reports from the front lines of account based programs have been astonishingly positive. Account based programs have been shown to yield the highest conversion rates and greatest revenue growth of all the programs they run. And the wider sales and marketing community has taken notice.

There has been a clear rise in account based thinking. As we detailed in The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, thinking of accounts instead of individual leads is hotter than a hot thing in an oven on a hot day.

The first wave of Account Based strategies were grouped under the misleading name Account Based Marketing (ABM) – probably because Sales had always thought in terms of accounts, while the idea was new for Marketing (whose core processes and tools were built around leads).

Regardless of where it fell, Account Based thinking took off because it’s exactly what most B2B companies need most. The facts are indisputable.

For most B2B companies, Customer Acquisition Costs and Lifetime Value economics are far more compelling in the enterprise market. Big deals are worth 10-20 times more than the average deal size. The results is game-changing for most organizations, and it’s worth building a sales and marketing strategy around.

However, it isn’t always the answer for every B2B company or every challenge.

How can you decide whether ABSD is the right strategy for your business?

If the following are true for your business, ABSD is probably your best bet:

1. When big deals matter

If big deals are 10-20 times bigger than average deals, ABSD is a no-brainer. These big deals don’t just justify the effort, they demand it. With longer sales cycles, more complex buying committees, and the need for a consultative sales process, bigger deals require a different strategy.

2. When you can identify your ideal prospects

If you don’t yet know which accounts might buy, you may not be ready for ABSD. If you do, and can name them, you’re ready. Selecting your target accounts (the most important step in the process) is a mixture of art and science, both intuition and logic.

There’s still a time and place for non-targeted selling, especially when you have a broad range of customer and a less focused approach. However, once you have your ideal customer profile nailed and a predictable pipeline, you’d be crazy not to take an account based approach.  

3. When your deal sizes are six figures 

ABSD is required for $100k-plus deals. And it’s a really good idea for $50-100k deals. But once your deals drop below $20k, it starts to make less sense. It’s doable in the right markets with the right products, but proceed with caution.

4. When you need sales efficiency 

Account Based Everything requires a new look at metrics. While leads, opportunities, pipeline, and revenue are important and even necessary metrics, they are not sufficient to measure account-based strategies. This is a fundamentally different approach that requires fundamentally different metrics.

If boosting your opportunity-to-close rates would make a big impact, you want ABSD.

But if your sales team just needs more at-bats and the quality or size of opportunity is not the issue yet, you may need to wait a while (after all, even low-probability opportunities are better than none!). Hopefully this state won’t last long.

The Tiger Team

Some companies sell to lots of small- and mid-size customers as well as to big enterprises. For this kind of mix, we’re seeing a two-pronged approach: a general sales development effort for the wider market and a specialist, ‘tiger team’ for landing the big accounts.

TOPO 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 2016 benchmark study, 45% of sales development teams today are already account- based (even if not fully evolved); 27% are partially account based; and 28% are ‘green eld’ (reaching out to the whole market). Three years ago, these numbers would have been reversed. According to these numbers, Account Based Sales Development is the new Sales Development.

ABSD is the modernization of sales development, and quite frankly, the modernization of the way B2B organizations conduct business. Having a list of leads and being tasked with getting meetings at as many as possible is an antiquated approach. After all, when was the last time one of your reps proclaimed they closed a lead?

Today’s modern sales development teams must have the skills to figure out who to target, what do to get their attention, and where to engage with them. It’s about getting the most complete picture possible about a target account.

For more on ABSD, read the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development or register for my session at the Digital Sales Engine on Friday, Nov. 18th at 11:30am EST.

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Jon Miller

About the Author

Jon Miller is CEO and Co-Founder of Engagio, the Account Based Everything platform that lets you orchestrate human connections at scale. Previously, he was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and in 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.