Today’s post is by Jon Miller, CEO and Co-founder of Engagio, an account-based platform that orchestrates outbound interactions across departments and channels. Previously, Jon was a co-founder at Marketo (Nasdaq:MKTO), a leader in marketing automation.
Account 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. However, it isn’t always the answer for every B2B company or every challenge.
So, what exactly is Account Based Sales Development?
ABSD is a coordinated strategy that combines personalized, multi-channel, multi-threaded, outbound activities to create high-value opportunities in new and existing customers.
“The new Account Based Sales Development leaps ahead of yesterday’s siloed sales development.” – Kristina McMillan, sales development practice leader, TOPO
How do 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.
- 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.
- 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. According to the 2016 AskForensics B2B Sales Analysis, 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 place for what we call greenfield [not account based] sales development. If you can sell to a broad range of customers, it can still make sense. But, as soon as you’ve got a focused ideal customer profile, account based is the way to go.” - Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst, TOPO
- When your deal sizes are six figures
ABSD is required for $100k-plus deals. And it’s a really good idea for $50k-100k deals. Deals below $20k are probably too small.
According to Craig on the Funnelholic blog: “Today’s sales development teams must be smarter and more targeted in their outreach to produce the same amount of pipeline - particularly in the Enterprise.”
- 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.
What has changed?
This is much different from traditional demand gen and sales development. Today, for most B2B companies, sophisticated measurement of customer acquisition costs and lifetime value economics runs the show. For enterprise organizations, big deals are worth 10-20 times more than the average deal size. These are company-making deals and they’re worth building a sales-and-marketing strategy around. If you haven't already, check out the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development. ABSD is a huge step from the original telesales “boiler rooms”:
- It’s targeted – aimed at select named accounts – not huge, undifferentiated lists
- It’s personalized – based on relevant, crafted conversations instead of standard, one-size-fits-all scripts
- It’s researched – driven by systematic insight generation (not two minutes on LinkedIn)
- It’s multi-channel – maximizing reach by using all channels, not massive spamming campaigns
- It’s integrated – a coordinated effort supported by marketing – not another silo
- It’s patient – with less emphasis on short-term calls to action such as demos and more on high-value engagements such as meetings to share insights or trends
TOPO Research, one of the pioneers of account-based thinking and the new sales development discipline, 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 percent of sales development teams today are already account based (even if not fully evolved)
- 27 percent are partially account based
- 28 percent are “greenfield” (reaching out to the whole market)
Three years ago, these numbers would have been reversed.
“Account Based Sales Development is today’s most effective account-based tactic. Rather than rely on the high-volume process of outbound prospecting, organizations now strategically define a smaller, more targeted set of accounts and run personalized buyer-centric campaigns against those accounts.” - TOPO
ABSD is the new sales development. It’s more sophisticated and effective than “hitting the phones” or blasting out emails. It never sits back and waits for opportunities; it goes out and creates them. It creates big deals that fuel hyper-growth. It’s just as powerful for customer success as it is for acquisition. It targets the entire buying team as a team, not as isolated individuals. It’s built on relevance and value for each individual on the team, and it’s all about the orchestration between marketing, sales development, and sales.