Sales Best Practices

Tips For Account-Based Sales (ABS)

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Audrey Weber

Associate Content Editor

The stats behind Account-Based Sales (ABS) explain the growing buzz. The numbers aren’t just incremental — they’re transformative. More importantly, the same remarkable results seem to occur across revenue teams who opt to re-engineer their culture into one that promotes ABS.

Take the sales team at Cloudera, for example. Before they adopted an account-based approach, reps were basically doing their own thing even after training and the leadership's best efforts to encourage a replicable process. Enforcing best practices was difficult, and process consistency elusive.

Fast-forward to when Cloudera adopted Outreach and built a new account-based sales process. Just several months after the change, the team saw a 6x increase in email open rates, a 10x improvement in reply rates (from just 3% to as much as 30%), and more than 2x the number of meetings.

The transformation was so pronounced that VP for Global Inside Sales Lars Nilssen described it as “supercharging the pipeline growth of both our new business and expansion business.”

Clearly, Account-Based Sales has a lot to offer. The one thing that really excites leadership, however, is the replicability of its results. With the right tools and insight, you can reach new milestones very similar to those achieved by Cloudera.

ABS can help you:

  • target accounts with greater precision and impact
  • improve rep performance through standardized workflows
  • execute optimized playbooks across teams and channels

Account-Based Sales Tips

The account-based model is actually pretty simple. High-level, this is what the cross-departmental strategy looks like:

  1. Determine your most valuable customers (ICP)
  2. Identify those customers’ key stakeholders
  3. Deploy all relevant teams (sales, marketing, customer success, etc.) to engage every stakeholder — as if each valued customer account were a market of one.

The following tips will help your revenue team hold the line.

Tip #1: Align Sales and Marketing

Much has been said about (and suffered because of) misalignment between sales and marketing. In some organizations, the gap is so wide that the two departments end up blaming each other for missed targets and poor business outcomes.

In Account-Based Sales, you don’t want prospects to get mixed signals. The key is to bring all customer-facing teams so close together that there would be no room left for operational, strategic, and messaging gaps to emerge.

There are three reasons you want to align your revenue-generating teams. A tight sales-marketing alignment will help you:

  1. Improve workflow
  2. Increase revenue
  3. Provide better customer experiences

So get your revenue engine in shape and facing the right direction. You can start by ditching vanity metrics and focusing on ones that truly matter. Have both sales and marketing chase the same metrics (e.g., number of meetings set, sales-accepted leads, revenue, etc.) that make a difference for the company.

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Tip #2: Focus on High-Value Accounts

ABS doesn’t work for every type of customer or B2B seller. It best suits sellers with a high proportion of corporate buyers in their portfolio and best suits customers who have multiple decision makers. If both conditions apply, then ABS is for you.

Because you’ll likely have a mix of client types, focus ABS efforts on high-value customers. Study each target account and gain a deep understanding of the company's pain points and aspirations. Identify key stakeholders and classify them into buyer personas. You can then formulate distinct engagement playbooks and automated sequences for each persona.

The experience of global advertising leader AdRoll is a case in point. The firm serves more than 35,000 customers and it needed a sales engagement platform to make sense of the chaos, pursue the right leads, and close the best deals.

AdRoll built an automated sequence that took much of the guesswork and admin tasks away from its sales development reps. SDRs now have more time engaging high value targets with hyper-personalized messaging. Like those of Cloudera, the results speak for themselves: following the change, Adroll doubled its appointment and response rates for inbound leads.

Tip #3: Follow Up Consistently

It takes several touches and follow-ups for even the best sales organizations to close a single deal. Good thing you can now use sales engagement platforms to automate follow-up sequences.

Our own sellers practice what they preach. The sales development team at Outreach, for example, follows the agoge sequence, a predefined series of touchpoints that includes calls, emails, social messaging, SMS texts, and other communication channels. The sequence relies heavily on follow-up tactics once a personalized message has been sent to a prospect.

Using custom follow up sequences can lift email response rates by as much as 102%. Here are samples of killer follow-up emails you can use for different scenarios.

Tip #4: Use Social Media

Social selling (leveraging social media channels to inform and connect with prospects) remains a hot topic and an effective method for both B2C and B2B organizations. While Instagram propels engagement with consumers, LinkedIn is your best bet when it comes to corporate buyers.

Start by building an active and authentic presence on your chosen network. Use your presence to grow your pipeline and improve your outbound metrics. But remember to practice social media etiquette diligently to avoid being blacklisted.

This webinar will help you run impactful social selling campaigns on LinkedIn.

Tip #5: Build a Library of Custom Targeted Content

You can never emphasize messaging relevance enough. Personalizing emails and content takes a fair amount of time, however, and isn't practical when you’re building a larger portfolio of customers.

Using sales engagement platforms, you can execute personalization at scale. One way to do that is to grow your collection of email templates, call scripts, and other content — to be curated, categorized, and shared by all the teams that make up your revenue engine. This way, your marketers as well as sales reps and account executives have easy access to the most effective messaging for each touch point, prospect type, and engagement context. It also reduces the likelihood that your emails will end up in the spam folder.

Use the right tools and sequences to gather insight about buyer sentiment. You can then deliver the right information at moments when prospects will most likely respond to your messaging.

Account-Based Sales is upending the B2B market. Many industry leaders believe ABS will be the default approach of sales organizations in driving performance and growth. To get the most from account-based selling, you have to do it right.

Do you have more ABS tips? Share this post on LinkedIn and add your thoughts in the comments.

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