What is Account Based Selling?
Account Based Selling may seem like the next B2B sales buzzword—here today, gone tomorrow—but it’s more than just a passing fad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the future of B2B sales strategy. Maybe you’ve heard of Account Based Selling before or maybe it’s a completely foreign concept to you. Regardless of what you know already, this short guide will provide you with helpful information on how to get started with this sales strategy and make the most of it moving forward.
Defining Account Based Selling
Account Based Selling is a popular and effective sales strategy where B2B sales teams target specific companies/accounts instead of individual leads. The strategy hinges on a completely personalized approach to sales. Cookie cutter email templates or sales pitches simply won’t cut it (pun intended). You find the accounts that you know you have a strong solution for, whether that’s an entire company, a department within that company, or a specific team.
Getting Started with Account Based Selling
To find those ideal accounts, you need to consider what your ideal customer is. This goes beyond buyer personas. Try to imagine the characteristics of your perfect buyer—funding, company size, industry, etc.—then it’s time to do some research to see which companies match up.
It’s important not to try to shoehorn big companies into your Account Based Selling strategy. Sure, it would be great to sell to Apple or IBM, but do those companies meet your criteria for an ideal client? Match the company to your proven sales strategy, not the other way around.
Advantages of Account Based Selling
Compared with traditional selling methods, Account Based Selling has a lot to offer for B2B sales teams.
- Your leads don’t choose you. You choose your leads.
Buyers don’t always know what solutions are right for them, and they often pursue companies that aren’t the best fit. Unfortunately, one or both parties often only finds this out quite far into the sales cycle. With Account Based Selling, you can be relatively certain very early into the sales cycle that there’s a good fit between your companies.
- Lower effort, higher impact.
Imagine taking your entire sales pipeline and reducing it down to 10%. If you only had to spend time focusing on the cream of the crop, you’d have an easier time getting results. Account Based Selling operates on the understanding that it’s better to focus your efforts on companies that are a really good fit than it is to spread your efforts out over all the companies in your pipeline.
- Understand your sales pipeline.
With Account Based Selling, you go into the sales cycle already understanding your buyer’s persona, needs, and goals. Because you have a stronger understanding of these factors right off the bat, you can approach the sales cycle with more strategy. Even better, you can improve the accuracy of your sales predictions.
Account Based Selling Technologies
While there is a methodology to Account Based Selling, it’s really only possible because of modern sales tools. In order for Account Based Selling to be effective, you need a way to easily understand your buyer, personalize the sales process, and track what works and what doesn’t. Here are the technologies that help:
- Content Personalization Tools
To sell effectively to very specific markets, you need personalized sales materials. Case studies, sales sheets, proposals, etc.… They all need to be hyper-relevant to your buyer. Customizing content is an area where many sales teams struggle. Either the customization process takes too long (causing delays for your buyer) or your sales reps simply don’t do it because it’s too difficult. Content personalization tools are designed to streamline the customization process while still retaining control over branding and messaging.
- CRM Tools
CRM on its own is not designed to be effective for Account Based Selling. It’s too hard to keep track of all the different contacts within a particular opportunity, and even then: how do you know if what you’re doing is working? A sales enablement platform is designed to integrate directly with your CRM to take all of the data within CRM and make it useful. The user interface and data visualization within a sales enablement platform make it super simple for all of your team members to understand what’s going on with your accounts.
- Tracking Tools
A way to apply that same concept to sales is to track your sales emails. Using email tracking software, you can tell which people opened your emails, viewed attachments, clicked links, etc. This tracking helps you identify engaged buyers versus buyers who are sending your emails straight to the trash bin.
The epitome of sales effectiveness tracking lies in analytics. Using big data, you can identify trends in your sales process, weed out accounts that aren’t performing well, more accurately predict your sales pipeline, and even identify individual areas where sales reps need to improve. Analytics are how you get visibility into your sales process, something that traditionally has been lacking in large B2B organizations.
Account Based Selling is far more effective and reliable than a “whatever the pipeline brings in” approach to sales. So how do you transition from that approach to Account Based Selling? The answer to that question will be different for every company, depending on the process your sales team is currently using.