The Sales Review

Rethink How You Select The Right Target Accounts With Social Proximity

Written by Daniel Ku | Nov 20, 2017 4:10:47 PM

When selecting the right accounts to go after, remember to choose wisely. How you and your sales organization identify which accounts to target will dictate your time, effort and deal velocity.

One of the most common challenges many sales organizations have is knowing which accounts to select that will:

  1. Provide the highest lifetime customer value
  2. Have a shorter sales cycle

Account selection is not just important for the individual sales rep but it also aligns with overall company’s sales and marketing strategy.

Buyers (and accounts) are more digital than ever so you’d think that most people are online. But how do you leverage digital and social within your account selection process?

It’s time to rethink your account selection process and leverage social selling and digital.

Traditional Account Segmentation

Typically, most sales organizations segment their accounts by geography and vertical. For example, at Sales for Life our sweet spot is Information Technology mixed with specific regions who are more digitally-savvy.

Another way is using data to fuel your account selection which has been illustrated by Brandon Redlinger of Engagio who advocates for scientifically identifying the accounts with the highest likelihood of doing business with you.  According to SiriusDecisions, better data results in better account selection, which leads to a 35-40% higher average sales selling price.

There are two key data points that are the utmost importance: firmographics and technographics

Firmographics date may include:

  • Company Size
  • Industry
  • Financials
  • Growth Trends
  • Industry Position

Technographics data may include:

  • Current Technology Stack
  • Complementary Technologies

Another important aspect of account selection is understanding who is your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Persona Data May Include:

  1. Demographics – location, industry, size, growth versus retraction.
  2. Mindset before buying – focused on skill enhancement versus immediate sales results as a justification for social selling.
  3. Content consumption/self-education before buying – how prepared was the customer to embark on a digital transformation.
  4. Customer procurement process versus the buying process we lay out for customers – did they follow our advice throughout the buying process, or stick to their internal comfort zone
  5. Implementation experience and engagement – who was involved in leading the project, how engaged were they, what was their learning outcomes
  6. Results, ROI, Account Stickiness – LTV:CAC, Average Contract Value, Recurring Revenue, “1 and done?”

Both territory and vertical are great starting points for account selection but leveraging social can help you prioritize accounts based on the proximity of your customer relationships.

Layering Social Proximity Into Account Selection

To fully understand how to leverage social proximity, we have to first define what social selling is.

Social selling is the process of developing, nurturing and leveraging relationships in a digital environment to sell products or services. While many equate social selling with social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it encompasses a much larger strategy including sharing relevant content, interacting directly with potential buyers and customers, personal branding and social listening and surrounding.

As the image below shows, social selling has three major tactical elements or components:

  1. Insights-based selling
  2. Trigger-based selling
  3. Referral-based selling

With social proximity in mind, you and your sales organization can understand how to leverage your current and past customers to identify future leads and opportunities ie. Referral-Based Selling.

At Sale for Life, one of our best strategies is to put out advocates in the center of our account selection process and roadmap relationships within their sphere of influence.

For example:

Plot out your most recent customers and who is related with the relationships you want to build. As a result, you’ll then build an ecosystem of people are curious in the successes or failures within customer’s organization.

One way you can do this is through functions like LinkedIn's TeamLink. Your sales team may have thousands of connections across their LinkedIn Networks. If you purchase the team licence of Sales Navigator, you get a feature called ‘Team Link’ that allows your reps to identify prospects that their fellow team mates may be connected with.

The deal velocity from conversation to customer is so much greater than just picking up a phone and calling down a list of provided accounts.

Keeping Your Sales Cadence Fresh

Think of your sales cadence strategy as a storyboard. Each box is a different frame in time, has a logical step in the overall story and it’s very simply to read.

You want to rethink how you engage your buyers by first creating a storyboard to determine what story (messaging) you want to tell, length (how many touch points) of the story and how (channel) you want to frame each shot.

A well-crafted cadence will take your sales team from 0 to 60 in no time.

Here’s our secret sauce:

Day 1: Email In The Morning / Call In The Afternoon

  • Key Message: Annual Growth Strategies (Form 10-K or Quarterly Report)

Day 3: Connect on LinkedIn / Follow on Twitter

Day 5: Call In The Morning With Voicemail / Email In The Afternoon

  • Competitive Analysis

Day 7: Video Email / Call In The Afternoon

  • Share Third-Party Research

Day 12: InMail / Call In The Afternoon

  • Share An Article and Case Study

Here are several places where you can identify sources for insights:

  • Company Annual Report (Form 10-K)
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Company Earnings Call
  • Competitive Analysis or Competency Benchmarks

Our approach is to create a cadence with several diverse messages, each dealing with a specific insight, challenge or opportunity specific to the target account. Each separate message receives several attempts (telephone, email, social) before moving on in the cadence.

Build your sales cadence in advance with your team to align with marketing and sales leadership. Gather account insights and data from marketing to fuel the storyboarding process. When selecting accounts, identify how to roadmap the social proximity of your current customers to identify which accounts will offer the greater deal velocity and highest lifetime customer value.