Your go-to guide to account-based selling


By: Monique Seitz-Davis

Sales (of all kinds) should form the bottom line of your business. After all, sales are your prime profit focus. More importantly, well-played sales can lead to a snowball of success you need to make a go of things in the long-term.

But that's pretty common knowledge for most B2B companies. However, what you might not realize is how you can leverage sales to work in your favor — even in a hyper-saturated market. And while doing so might be challenging at times, pairing strategy with account-based selling can help solidify your revenue, reputation, and goals.

Account-based sales is certainly not a new concept. But it is coming to the fore right now, with 86% of sales and marketing professionals using it to reach new customers. Injecting ABS into your sales strategy could go quite a long way towards helping you.

So, to help you get the ball rolling on your ABS strategy and sales, we're going to delve into what precisely the account-based sales model is, and what it has to offer.

What is account-based selling?

Account-based selling is a B2B model that treats companies, also known as 'accounts,' as a single market. An ABS strategy does two things:

  • Enables sales teams to make the most of existing resources; that way, teams don't have to dedicate a singular rep to a singular, specific account.

  • Empowers sales and marketing to create personalized content. So, instead of being forced to cast a wide marketing net that could potentially appeal to a variety of accounts, agents can create personalized content for every ABS effort

It's worth noting that a solid ABS strategy involves a thorough prospect identification and vetting process. You need to be selective, so you'll want to have a comprehensive identification and vetting process that sheds light on companies that genuinely fit your ABS criteria.

Not only does this allow you to implement the true power and capacity of your sales and marketing departments, but it also enables reps to target a prospect's interests and pain points appropriately. From there, reps can provide personalized content with a much higher potential for ROI than your standardized sales approach.

Who is a good fit for account-based selling?

ABS can bring forward great revenue-boosting benefits to a company. That said, account-based selling doesn't work for every company. Think of it this way — you can't put a square peg in a round hole no matter how hard you try. The same applies to ABS: an ill-fitting account-based sales development could harm rather than help.

For instance, attempting to implement this method within a B2C sales model will lead to increased costs and tough-to-attain metrics. Even for B2B targeted organizations, ABS isn't an automatic good fit. For example, if your B2B target is small-scale companies, the ABS sales method is unlikely to be a good fit and could leave you out of pocket.

So, when is an account-based selling model a sound choice?

Primarily, this comes down to companies that are dealing in complex B2B sales, enterprise-level organizations, and large-scale purchases. You should also have plenty of opportunities for upselling to ensure that the extra money and resources you use for each account have a guaranteed ROI potential.

How to implement account-based strategies

To get the ABS ball rolling, consult with your sales and marketing team. You want to uncover whether or not your company fits the criteria accordingly.

Once you've verified that account-based sales are the right fit for your sales team and company, there are a few things to keep in mind to implement ABS well and guarantee success every time.

  • Step 1: Test your internal alignment. The ability of a sales and marketing team to work seamlessly together is a vital part of this process. As such, you need to test cloud processes and other collaborative efforts to make sure that this alignment works.

  • Step 2: Build your ideal customer profile (ICP). We'll talk more about the specifics and details that go into creating an ideal customer profile shortly, but it's another vital piece of the puzzle. Only by building a picture of your ideal customer can you target accounts that have the right characteristics for you.

  • Step 3: Measure relevant metrics to assess performance. Tracking performance is always vital, and your ABS strategy is no different. By measuring things like average deal size and lifetime value, you can determine where your account-based selling model is working, and where it needs attention.

How to find your ideal customer profile

An ideal customer profile, or ICP, is a detailed description of a prospective company.

To uncover your ideal customer profile, you'll want to start by answering the following questions:

  • Who is the ideal customer that would buy my product or services?

  • What are the specific pain points my product or service offers a solution to?

  • What are the specific benefits of my product or services?

  • Is there a particular location for my customers?

  • What is my ideal customer's buying cycle?

Keep in mind this is a best-case, hypothetical scenario. Still, you also want these answers to be realistic and relative to the company because they'll impact everything from your marketing team's content strategy to your account-based approach. So it probably goes without saying, but you need to get this right.

From there, you'll want to apply this information directly to your prospecting efforts. Start by identifying the firmographics and behaviors of your perfect customer base or, otherwise known as, an account-based audience. In general, these types of characteristics are directly connected to your target vertical and industry. Consider basics like:

  • Industry

  • Company size

  • Buying motivations and triggers

  • Location

  • Lifetime customer value

This type of information allows reps to target account-based sales to companies that have a higher, more dependable chance of a conversion. Be sure to leverage these metrics throughout prospecting conversations, emails, and so forth.

At the end of the day, creating an ideal customer profile is the key to unlocking an effective ABS sales strategy. An ideal customer profile is your North Star of ABS — it can help you layout a roadmap for your prospect and when in doubt, shed light on whether or not a prospect is a right fit for your strategy.

The importance of personalized content and marketing

When created with your ideal customer profile in mind, personalized content and marketing can help reps seal the deal. Personalized content that looks and feels tailored will flatter and impress your prospects. Plus, it enables you to stand out against a crowd and empowers you to set your ABS strategy in motion. In getting this right, you can make sure you cater to and alleviate every pain point your prospect faces, making your company the most appealing option.

To create successful, personalized content that truly reflects both the ABS strategy and prospect, internal sales and marketing teams must combine their collective knowledge and expertise.

After all, sales reps genuinely understand what customers are searching for — and creative teams are well-versed in crafting beautiful, on-brand content.

However, content creation typically falls to the creative or marketing team, and the knowledge regarding customer needs or pain points can get lost in translation, rendering that valuable personalized content somewhat obsolete.

Given the opportunity, sales and marketing teams should work collaboratively to create sales enablement content. But in place of that, sales teams can use brand templating platforms (complete with professionally-designed, on-brand template galleries) to their advantage. A brand templating platform helps ensure that the ICP content accurately reflects a prospect's needs and pain points — and the creative team can continue trucking along on other projects.

Tools you can use

Integration is another critical component of a successful ABS strategy. So you'll need to consider tool implementation across marketing and sales teams. Remember that you're approaching sales in a way you may never have done before. As such, there's a chance that you've never even considered how these departments could work together.

  • Easy content creation — Given the importance of content creation mentioned above, your first focus should be on cloud-based platforms that offer approachable, simple, and straightforward content collaborations. Brand templating platforms, like Lucidpress, empower sales and marketing teams to customize, lock, and adjust cloud-based content in real-time for improved results. Even better, this program then frees up your creative team and enables anyone to create or share content across your marketing landscape.

  • Communication tools — It's likely that your marketing and sales teams work from different areas in your office, or even on different floors, no? Moving your entire office around for the sake of account-based selling would be disruptive and not particularly useful from a productivity standpoint. Instead, implement one of the many remote communication platforms now available online. With cutting-edge options like Slack, your team will even be able to create separate chat groups for each prospective account. That can go a long way towards guaranteeing those communications, and therefore accounts, are better managed moving forward.

  • CRM — You'll want to double-check and make sure that whatever CRM platform you currently use is ABS-friendly. Again, this can help to integrate your sales and marketing teams. A decent collaborative CRM also guarantees repeatable sales and processes that make account-based sales easier than ever.

How to measure success

Since account-based selling is a data-driven strategy, you'll want to measure your success based on quantifiable metrics. Fundamentally, ABS metrics are very similar to the analytics you've been receiving from your sales efforts (until now). So you'll want to measure things like customer reach, MQA, SQA, attention, deal duration, contract value, and so forth.

That said, you'll also need to approach metrics with ABS in mind to truly measure success here. To do that, you must consider things like —

  • Percentage of key contacts from each target account

  • Revenue generated from accounts

  • Interactions and interest over time

  • Lifetime customer value (cross-sales, repeat sales, etc.)

  • Account improvement over time

You can garner each of these insights by simply keeping a close eye on sales and also content engagement. Then, you'll be able to measure whether your efforts are moving in the right direction and whether your account-based selling model needs further attention to pull the profits you desire.

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Monique Seitz-Davis

Monique Seitz-Davis is the Sr. Content Marketing Specialist for Lucidpress. Her areas of expertise include copywriting, content marketing, and brand strategy. When Monique's not writing, you can likely find her trail running or rabble-rousing with her dogs.

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