I recently posted a blog about the importance of aligning your Sales and Marketing teams, but there is another aspect they should be cooperating on as well, and that’s account management. The sales process is moving towards account targeted sales and it’s time your team got on board.
Account Based Sales are nothing new, people have been targeting specific accounts for years. But new technology such as automation and analytics means that it’s had a resurge in popularity.
What is account based sales?
Account Based Sales (ABS) is a way of selling that targets whole accounts rather than just focusing on one lead. It used to be that sales reps would focus their time and energy on getting as many sales calls dialed and emails sent to potential leads as possible, but with this shift to account based sales, it’s about the quality of the lead rather than the quantity.
It’s about researching accounts and seeing which ones are most likely to buy from you. Then nurturing and engaging with multiple leads within the company until the decision is made to buy. Prioritising the quality of the lead over the amount of leads generated means that you’re more likely to convert them to a sale. Because of this, ABS is used mainly for high value accounts.
The role of sales and marketing
Your sales and marketing teams need to work together to make your Account Based Sales process work. Marketing need to warm up your targets through tailored content while sales need to nurture and consistently engage with the targets.
But there is one step that needs to be taken before anyone can do this and that’s research. ABS can be more time consuming than traditional sales and part of that is down to the amount of research that needs to be conducted first.
To find out what accounts are worth investing your time in, you should first come up with an Ideal Customer Profile to see what characteristics you’re looking for in a customer. Use this to see any similarities with your current best accounts and your target accounts to see which ones are worth focusing on.
Once you’ve decided which accounts to target you need to research the actual companies themselves. This is important so that you can tailor any content that marketing sends their way, and so that the Sales rep will be able to speak to them on a personal level, knowing exactly what their pain points are and how your company can solve them. This kind of intensive research means that accounts are pre-qualified by the time the sales rep starts to contact them, so they are much more likely to convert to actual sales.
Engage with multiple people
Part of your research should focus on finding out who exactly to contact within the company you’re targeting. Research has shown that, on average, there are 5.4 people involved in the decision making process, so you need to make sure that you have multiple leads and contacts within the account to make sure that you’re getting as much support for your product as possible.
It’s likely that you will find one person coming through as the main target lead in the company. But focusing on multiple leads means, first of all, that if something happens and your target lead falls through, you’re not left with no contacts in the company and a lost account. Second of all, having more contacts means you can find out more in depth information about the company and it’s pain points. The more information you have, the more opportunity for personalizing your content and sales to the account. This type of selling is all about building and nurturing relationships with customers, so personalization is pivotal.
Benefits of account based sales
There are a lot of reasons to implement an account based approach to your sales process, but one of the main ones is that it’s much more organised than traditional sales, thanks to the amount of technology there is to make the whole process quicker and easier.
Many processes can be automated, such as auto-dialling, email capturing tools, and automatic scheduling so as to free up your sales rep’s time to focus on the account itself.
There are a lot of analytical tools that can make your research process quicker. Marketing can collect data on how many people in a company have interacted with your content and what content has worked the best, while Sales can collect data on the average times it takes to close a sale, the average activity level it takes to close a sale and much more. All of this data can be used to come up with repeatable methods that make the whole sales process quicker and more efficient. Making results easier to measure also adds a sense of accountability to your teams, which means that they will be more productive.
One of the best reasons to implement an Account Based Sales process is how good it makes your company look. You’re personalizing your message to every account instead of just sending out sales pitches en masse. People will warm to you and, not only are they more likely to buy from you, but they’re also more likely to recommend you to other companies, who are in turn more likely to work with you because you’ve been referred to them.
If you haven’t started investing time into Account Based Sales then you’re already behind your competitors, so what are you waiting for?