Sales Best Practices

Summer Grilling: A Recipe for Homemade Account-Based Sales Optimization That Lowers COA by 50 Percent

Max Mead, CEO of Acceleration Labs's Avatar

Max Mead, CEO of Acceleration Labs


Account-Based Selling Tools Prevent a BBQ Buzzkill

Plenty has been written about the virtues of account-based sales (ABS) and its little brother account-based sales development (ABSD.) Lately, I've  seen a couple of solid articles about the ABS world (see The Great ABS Debate  and 3 Reasons Your ABS Strategy Will Fail.) My favorite ABS metrics are organizational engagement, reach within target orgs, and senior level engagement --combined, those metrics will give you a sense of how broadly in the organization you're being considered and whether the right senior level involvement is happening. Meals are great, but the true indicator of a successful summer grill party is the same as any–the right mix of people. You want the social butterfly to keep the conversation lively, the thoughtful person who always offers to help clean up, and the gourmet buddy who always brings a killer potato salad. You don’t want to go through all that work and then the only person who shows up is Freegan Uncle Jake. The same applies to ABS; no one person carries a party, you need all the essential players in place for a fun dynamic.

There are numerous areas where you can refine and optimize ABM and ABSD to improve those metrics -- ICPs, persona targeting, sharpening content for different stakeholders, even personalized ad campaigns. All stories for another day.

Today I wanted to give a recipe for one simple yet powerful dish that most any practitioner /SDR can make at home right away to start bringing ABSD into their work, and start driving massive improvement on a day-to-day basis. This ABS recipe is perfect for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike.

The Kobe Beef Approach to Crillin’ it with Account-Based Sales


As with any fine dish, using high-quality ingredients is critical. In this case, we need a healthy portion of fresh engagement data. You should be able to generate a report from most sales engagement platforms that give you email opens and clicks for each individual prospect. Most will also show you how many times a given email is opened by the recipient (or more likely is being forwarded if it's more than 2-3 opens per email). If you have account name and title, you can export a report that has all of the ingredients you need for your own homemade “ABSD Optimizer.” 


Next, you'll need to decide the proportions of the ingredients. By this, I mean a way to score or weight the data. These are subjective, but an example formula we've used is:

  • Giving single email opens a score of 1 point
  • Counting clicks at 2x the value of an open
  • Overweighting multiple opens per email -- 2 points for each open greater than 1
  • Counting C-level opens and clicks at 2x 
  • Overweighting multiple clicks per email – 3 points for each click greater than 1
  • We don’t include replies as those are often unsubscribes or OOOs

Make sure your sales engagement platform has a built/in Engagement score. Our platform doesn’t overweight multiple opens or C-level engagement – so it favors reach over engagement or senior-level contact --  but it tends to line up pretty directionally with our custom score. Flavor to your own taste, as they say, and put it on the flames!


Exhibit 1: Individual activity within an account, an example of custom weightings

Final touches:

Before removing your creation from the grill, there's one more important step that turns this recipe into an account-based main course. 

Using a pivot table, add the person-level scores across the prospect organization to arrive at an account-level engagement score.

Sort them from highest to lowest, and bam, your ABSD Optimizer is ready to serve.


Exhibit 2: Account-level engagement scores, sorted


There are many ways to enjoy this delicacy. We’ve found that to get the most flavor from the Optimizer, the SDR focuses his / her efforts on the 20% of accounts with the highest scores. This is where personalization, phone calls, LinkedIn outreach, direct mailers, and having your CEO do personalized high-touch outreach is most effective. 

Don't throw away the other 80% of accounts-- they're still edible, they just require more time on the grill, and maybe more sauce. If no one is engaging, there's a good chance you haven't found the right stakeholders. It is possible of course that the account just isn't qualified - they may not be ready for your product, or you need to evolve your messaging for their account type. Take it out to cool and try again in a quarter or two with refined messaging if you think they're still your ICP.

Other variations of this recipe could include layering in reporting over longer time ranges ie. different degrees of data freshness to understand when an account is heating up or losing traction, or sprinkling in non-email touch points if you have an easy way to do that. 

This approach is a core part of a strategy we are using to lower COA by up to 50%, maybe more. I hope you enjoy it and experiment with your own variations. 

Have other ABSD chefs out made their own optimization meals at home? 

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