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Account-Based Selling

The Go-To Guide for Account-Based Selling

How many cold outreach emails campaigns did you design last year? How many of those campaigns actually worked? The most likely answer is that very few yielded qualified leads. Cold outreach is a science that only a handful of companies succeed at—and even then, it’s not exact. It’s tough to figure out who a company’s decision makers are, let alone craft subject lines that will stand out from the multitude of sales emails crowding their inboxes.

Account-based selling (ABS) is a powerful way of standing out from the crowd. Eighty-six percent of sales and marketing professionals use either account-based marketing or targeted account selling strategies to generate new business for their companies.

But getting started with ABS is often easier said than done. To help you and your team get the ball rolling, this piece will introduce the concept of ABS, its benefits, and how to start putting it into practice in your business.

What Is Account-Based Selling?

Account-based selling targets many stakeholders at a company, rather than focusing on single contacts or leads. A variety of departments, including sales and marketing, then work together to leverage multiple touchpoints and channels—personalized webinars, blog content, emails, etc.—to gain prospects’ trust and funnel them through the sales process.

But it’s not just any company that gets this attention: ABS focuses efforts on companies that have a high chance of becoming qualified leads. This is in contrast to traditional marketing that focuses on reaching the highest possible volume of contacts or leads, regardless of how likely those leads are to buy your product.

To ensure these targeted prospects respond positively to outreach, personalization is critical. That means ABS campaigns require a fair amount of up-front research on the interests and concerns of all stakeholders for each account. With this research in hand, your teams can brainstorm and strategize ways to interact with target accounts based on their individual needs.

For example, knowing what social media or news prospects consume and trust can be signals for how to market to them. Understanding big changes within a customer’s company can also indicate their need for a product of yours. Prospects typically engage much more with personalized content than generic sales materials, and are much more likely to turn into happy clients.

Marketing’s Role in Account-Based Selling

Though the term account-based selling might make you think sales is front and center in these efforts, successful ABS campaigns rely heavily on content that sparks the interest of multiple stakeholders within each account. That focus on content means marketing has a signficant role to play, too.

Of course, the sales team kicks things off by finding new accounts to pursue. However, once sales has identified those accounts, marketers need to work closely with the sales team and other internal teams, like product and leadership, to develop ideas for personalized campaigns, social media content, webinars, and other strategies to target these opportunities.

After a deal closes, that collaboration continues, with teams working together to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities and repeat the cycle.

Benefits of Account-Based Selling

Although ABS is more time-intensive than traditional marketing efforts, the benefits are worth it. In fact, the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) found that 80% of marketers believe ABS outperforms other marketing investments. The Forbes Agency Council also found that ABS yields a faster sales cycle and generates the most ROI with less waste and risk.

It may seem surprising that the ABS sales cycle is shorter than that of standard sales campaigns, given the prep-time ABS campaigns demand. But this trend is a result of the extremely personalized nature of account-based selling. While it may take longer to develop the personalized content that’s a hallmark of ABS, prospects are much more engaged and receptive to this tailored content and thus more likely to immediately see your product’s value.

Besides reducing your time to close, ABS can help teams become more efficient. Over time, sales and marketing teams organically work out the kinks in the ABS process. Using customer attributes like purchase history, industry, decision makers, and receptiveness to marketing materials, teams can build more specific target personas to help them better understand future prospects and close those sales more quickly. Plus, the inherent focus on high-quality prospects will also help you close larger deals. Research shows that 60% of companies that use account-based selling for at least a year experience an increase in revenue.

Who Should Use Account-Based Selling?

ABS isn’t optimal for every business, though. Deciding whether or not to use account-based selling comes down to your customer’s purchasing behavior. If you’re a small, D2C business where the buying process is fairly straightforward and transactional, ABS probably isn’t worth it.

B2B companies, on the other hand, have complicated products that often require educating multiple levels of stakeholders to close a sale. This prolonged sales cycle and need for educational content means B2B companies are well-suited for ABS. Personalizing that content can be the lynchpin that convinces stakeholders to buy the product.

A Framework for Getting Started with Account-Based Selling

Before you jump into ABS, there are several things you’ll need to plan out first.

1. Determine How Account-Based Selling Fits Into Your Company Culture

ABS is a departure from conventional selling methodologies, so ensuring that your organization is on board is crucial to your success. Showing the ROI that companies similar to your own have seen through ABS efforts can help quiet skeptics, and outlining joint sales and marketing goals can get people on the same page.

2. Develop a Profile of Your Ideal Customer

An ideal customer profile, or ICP, is an amalgam of characteristics of your most valuable customers. Some attributes of an ICP could include an account’s industry, revenue, size, location, and current products or subscriptions. Sales teams can use these demographics to find new accounts to target, and marketing teams can devise messaging that speaks to those traits to help sell your product.

For instance, if your ICP lists other products your ideal customer already uses, and your product integrates with them, your teams can use that information to their advantage.

3. Flesh Out the Buyer Personas Your Team Should Target

While end users ultimately the ones using your product, they’re not always the ones buying it. Therefore, you have to be able to articulate your value proposition so that a prospect’s influencers, stakeholders, and buyers understand. That’s where buyer personas come in.

Start by building personas of your buyers based on what challenges they face at work, what industry-specific publications they read, and what platforms they use to do their job. Build on these personas as you meet more and more of them throughout your ABS journey and use them to inform your ABS strategy.

4. Create the required ABS resources

Perhaps the most important part of ABS is customized content. This content should be based on the pain points and goals listed in both ICPs and buyer personas. But even though content creation is a marketing function, that doesn’t mean other teams can’t help shape that content. o best customize materials sent to account stakeholders at each point in the sales journey, sales and marketing teams should exchange all the information they have. As sales teams talk to more accounts, they will find which assets work best and if there are any content gaps.

5. Take Advantage of Direct Mail Marketing

Even the most tailored messaging can fail to get your company noticed. Buyers at your target accounts likely receive hundreds of LinkedIn messages, emails, and workshop invites every day. Eventually, your marketing team will run out of innovative ways to get people’s attention.

Consequently, marketers are turning to direct mail marketing, sending their prospects corporate swag, cookies, and printed mailers. These physical pieces of mail surprise and delight prospects, and get 30 times the response rate of email. Direct mail feels more tangible and personal than digital mail, making it a more meaningful way to connect with prospects and existing clients.

6. Decide on the Best Metrics to Assess Performance

Account-based selling works best when you have an eye on the data. Keeping track of a few metrics and how they change quarter over quarter can help you find where you may need to allocate more resources or switch up your strategy.

Common ABS metrics include:

  • Number of new opportunities
  • Customer acquisition cost (cost incurred to convert an account)
  • Customer lifetime value (revenue gained from customers over their lifetime)
  • Average deal size
  • Account engagement

If you notice account engagement going down, for example, it might be time to re-evaluate some of your campaigns. Are they really targeting the right people with the right messaging?

Other metrics might be more challenging to interpret. At first, it may not be clear what a “good” average deal size or customer acquisition cost is. Continue monitoring these KPIs to help discover reasonable benchmarks for sales and marketing teams to beat.

Take Your Account-Based Selling Campaign to the Next Level

By now, the benefits of the personalized, targeted approach that ABS offers are clear, and you have what you need to start fleshing out an ABS plan that works for your team.

But no sales approach is perfect. For all of ABS’s benefits, prospects can still get overwhelmed by that personalized content and worse, lose interest. You need to reach buyers outside of their inboxes in order to truly ensure the success of your ABM campaign, and direct mail marketing is the key to that success.

Sendoso is a comprehensive direct mail marketing solution that complements any ABS campaign.

Customers like Pendo, Tipalti, LiveRamp, and Lessonly all use Sendoso to supplement their ABS strategies. By mailing high-quality swag like branded t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and even cupcakes, Sendoso helps users truly grab prospects’ attention.

Find out how Sendoso can boost your ABS strategy by scheduling a demo today.

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We’ve seen response rates and success with Sendoso like no other form of outreach.

Peter Tarrant, Account Based Marketer, Tipalti

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