Sales professionals are always aiming to improve their approach to selling, increase conversions, and generate more profit. That is why so many businesses are now turning to Account-Based Selling (ABS) as a new approach to sales success.
Account-Based Selling is not new, but it lost popularity as we entered an age of mass marketing on the internet. But the ABS approach is making a comeback, appealing to a more modern way of doing business. The goal is to ditch impersonal mass-marketing and instead focus on personalized, more human interactions with potential customers.
What is Account-Based Selling?
ABS is the opposite of the mass marketing model. For years, many businesses have been seeking success by targeting as many potential customers as possible with a general message.
Mass marketing often involves email marketing and cold call strategies. Both of these methods convert customers by reaching out to as many people as possible in the hope that a handful would be interested in what you were offering and decide to buy.
An account-based approach takes on a more personal, focused, and multi-touch strategy to sales. Salespeople can focus on approaching fewer, higher-value potential clients. This means resources are spent on understanding customer needs and how the company can meet them, by taking time to develop a true understanding of potential clients’ company structure, pain points and values before taking on a hyper-personalized approach. This will sometimes involve multiple salespeople talking to multiple stakeholders, in contrast to the usual method of assigning one salesperson to one person at the company.
The goal of ABS is to approach and ultimately sell to fewer customers while making more profit from each ‘account’. Recent studies highlight that 80% of marketers say ABS improves customer lifetime values, while 86% say it improves win rates.
ABS relies heavily on:
- Understanding your key market
- Knowing your ideal customers
- Deeply researching customer needs
- Successful account-based sales professionals understand that this strategy relies on one simple rule: quality over quantity.
Define Your Ideal Customer
Delivering account-based sales means getting a true idea of who your ideal customer is. Successful ABS is achieved by research—not assuming any customer is a good customer or any sale is a good sale.
Defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is the best place to start. This profile will offer you a go-to template to judge the suitability of any potential customer as well as helping you to shape your products, services, and marketing towards meeting the needs of those customers.
An ICP is a ‘description of the type of company that would get the most value from your product or solution’—your dream client. The profile may include average size, turnover, industry, niche, location, and even their goals and values.
Building your ICP is a balancing act. You want to create a potential customer base that’s:
- Large enough to deliver enough profit
- Small enough to be able to deliver a customized experience to each who passes the criteria.
Align Business Efforts
Account-Based Selling is not all about selling. It’s about teamwork and nurturing client relationships. It takes an entire organization to deliver a successful ABS strategy.
For example, when developing your ICP, you may also work with your customer success team to help get a better idea of which customers are easiest to service. Measuring ease of service and matching those analytics with others like who is easiest to sell to. and who spends the most money with your business can give you a clearer idea of your most valuable customers.
In addition to customer service, other teams within your organization will benefit from developing an ICP.
- Your product team will be able to develop your offering towards the specific needs of your current and potential customers.
- Marketing can use this information to target the relevant business and individuals with tailored messaging.
- Your design team will have a better understanding of the customers for whom they are trying to appeal.
Develop an Account-Based Strategy
Once you have a clear idea of who your ideal customers are and you have aligned business efforts in the pursuit of winning their business, you need to develop a strategy for account-based sales.
Your strategy will outline how you will approach each account. For example, this may include how many stakeholders within each account you will target and which positions those stakeholders hold. The more stakeholders you can target, the higher the chance of successfully closing a sale, especially if those stakeholders are in the right positions of power.
Having a well-defined ICP will let you target fewer, higher-value accounts and therefore allow you to allocate resources to target a higher number and better suited internal stakeholders.
Deliver Tools for Success
With ABS requiring a whole organization approach to sales, it also requires the correct tools to facilitate this. A CRM will provide your sales and marketing teams with a central tool for inputting and exporting all relevant information about key accounts and stakeholders, limiting the potential for duplicated effort and allowing easy access to crucial information.
To increase efficiency and provide consistency in key account messaging, you can also use tools such as TextExpander for sales emails in ABS focused organizations. Complex, personal messages can be sent using a quick search or abbreviation, making light work of seriously impactful communications.
Monitor, Measure & Adapt
Taking an account-based approach to sales is all about defining and understanding your best clients and serving their needs in the best way you can. Consistently monitoring and adapting your approach based on your developing relationship with key accounts will ensure future success.
As markets and clients change, so should your approach to selling. By involving all those within your business with ABS you ensure that the whole business consistently stays relevant in serving those who keep your doors open.
Would a shift from mass marketing to ABS work for your business?