The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Account-Based Sales Strategy

On its own, this approach, often called “spray and pray,” can only get a business so far in today’s business to business (B2B) sales.

The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Account-Based Sales Strategy

Executive Summary

For decades, marketing and sales teams have used high-volume sales tactics to drive revenue. This approach relied on probability: sending the same message to as many prospects as possible in hopes that a percentage would become customers. On its own, this approach, often called “spray and pray,” can only get a business so far in today’s business to business (B2B) sales. B2B sales has evolved from products to sophisticated technologies, software as a service (SaaS), professional services, and other supports that are often subscription-based and highly customizable. In addition, B2B buyers now expect a personalized sales experience similar to the B2C (business to consumer) industry, where the solution is specifically tailored to their needs.

To succeed in today’s B2B industry, it’s important to align your sales strategies to today’s B2B sales and buyer expectations for personalization. In fact, according to Accenture Interactive, “B2B executives are recognizing the urgency to adapt customer experiences and adopt personalization: 73% know that customer expectations for more meaningful products, services and experiences are significantly higher than they were just a few years ago, and 63% said they wanted to integrate personalization.” Account-Based Sales (ABS) strategies are an increasingly effective way to both demonstrate the value of complex products and services and tailor the sales strategies to today’s B2B buyers and expectations for personalization. This eBook is for B2B sales leaders who are interested in how ABS has raised the bar for B2B revenue and pipeline generation. You’ll hear from sales experts and leading companies about how they implemented an ABS plan and the tactics they’ve used to make it successful. We’ll also cover ABS basics, why it’s the most popular topic in B2B sales today, outline its benefits, and things to consider before you implement your own ABS program.

Industry analysts predict that in 2019 alone, ABS program adoption will grow at least 150%, fueled by a 41% increase in account-based budgets. -“2019 Account Based Benchmark Report,” TOPO

"I’ve learned that once you’ve developed a key relationship in an account, you need to create a ‘mutual close plan’ where this person helps you create a ‘travel plan’ to get through the organization. This is a key step because now you get a blueprint of who needs to support the initiative and how to get access. This person will help you navigate the org and win the votes you need, as well as succeed without the votes you can’t get."

Rob Jeppsen

CEO, Xvoyant

What is Account-Based Sales (ABS)?

In simple terms, account-based sales (ABS) is a multi-touch, multichannel sales strategy where a select group of accounts are targeted as a market of one. Under an ABS program, all go-to-market teams play a part in identifying and executing, the high-touch, personalized strategies for each account and work together to convert, upsell, and cross-sell across the entire customer journey.

For example, a sales organization may decide to target accounts in a new vertical, and will dedicate staff and resources from marketing, sales, and other go-to-market (GTM) stakeholders to develop the ABS strategy. Sales and marketing will team up to identify the target accounts, and then develop specific strategies and messaging to reach and nurture these accounts. Once converted to customers, customer success and professional services teams may provide customized onboarding and implementation services, and executive leadership may meet with the customer to provide personalized services to maximize retention and identify potential upselling or cross-selling opportunities. ABS programs are well-suited for landing customers that have multi-layered business needs and longer deal cycles due to multiple people on their buying committee. In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. This might include a sales manager or director, as well as individuals from sales operations, finance, legal, and someone at the executive level. Be sure to understand each persona’s potential objections and then create content to demonstrate value and build relationships with each person at the account.

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