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What is Account-based Selling?

Account-based selling, also known as account-based sales development (ABSD), is the idea in which prospective customers are treated as markets of one. In the advertising, media and technology industry it’s further defined as reaching a prospective customer through hyper-personalized, targeted campaigns that speak directly to the issues of each of the influencers and decision-makers within the prospect company.

Treating prospect companies as ‘markets of one’ is not new, especially in the professional services industry. Born in response to increased challenges for outbound sales teams, the ABSD methodology improves the ability to connect and engage relevantly with prospects through phone, email and social outreach.

While the execution of an account based sales development program is unique to each business, four fundamentals exist:

1. Create a single view of each company.
The first step to implementing an ABSD methodology is to view potential buyers as accounts, rather than leads.

Historically, sales development teams have treated individuals within their respective CRM applications as leads, with notes and information being logged against the individual rather than the account or brand. As a result, it was difficult to be strategic with outreach at the account-level because information about an account’s history, past sales interactions and brand/account stakeholders was not available at that level.

Most often, this requires a systematic change in your customer relationship management (CRM) application. Selling to an account, rather than individual leads, allows a salesperson to execute the subsequent three steps in this process most efficiently and effectively.

2. Identify all the decision makers and influencers.
Once you’ve identified the accounts within your niche you’d like to pursue, the next step is to identify the target contacts within each account and collect their contact information.

Today more than ever, purchasing decisions are made by a team or group that reaches a consensus, rather than by one person with complete autonomy. Therefore, it’s important to identify all the relevant stakeholders on the accounts you’re pursuing.

Typically, an account has multiple people with various job titles and functions who are good candidates to approach with your solution. They may not always be the final buyer, but they’ll likely be able to introduce you to the appropriate decision-maker and influence the purchase. Accurately identifying the list of potential buyers within an account strongly increases the likelihood of a salesperson making a connection and turning that account into a customer. Accurate and comprehensive contact information on national advertisers and their agencies is most often sourced from providers like Winmo, The List Online and Advertising Database.

3. Be relevant. Solve a problem.
An important piece of every ABSD outreach campaign is the development of hyper-relevant content to entice the people within your targeted accounts into exploring, evaluating and ultimately purchasing your product, media property or solution(s). The key here is to customize each message to a specific business/marketing issue or challenge of the target account.

Nobody wants to feel like they’re being targeted through a mass-message. We all want to feel like a message was crafted just for us. Hyper-relevant messaging, which speaks to specific pain points of a company or industry, increases the probability of connecting with influencers and buyers.

Typically, creating this content will be a collaboration between a sales development representative (SDR), a salesperson and a marketing specialist. Successful teams often use resources like DailyVista to uncover real-time business and marketing opportunities with national advertisers and their agencies to help craft their ABSD messaging.

4. More than just one message.
An effective ABSD campaign uses a systematic outreach sequence of multiple messages, often called a cadence. Managed either by a sales development rep or through automation, this outreach sequence typically consists of several touch-points over a defined period of time, delivered across multiple channels.

An example cadence could consist of five social media touch-points, five emails and five phone calls executed over a two week period. Marketing automation software, or more commonly, sales-specific email automation technology like AgencySquared, Outreach.io or Salesloft can be used to automate this outreach cadence.

You can also opt to have the entire ABSD process and best-practices run for you through outsourced business development companies such as Catapult New Business. They can create an account-based sales methodology for you, run it for 6 months and train your team as they go.

By following these simple steps, you can lay the foundation of a world-class account-based selling methodology to dominate your chosen market vertical and rapidly increase your market share.