Enable Your Account-Based Sales Development

September 15, 2020

As an organization, progressing towards an Account-Based Marketing strategy involves a lot of moving parts. It’s not just a switch you can turn on, it’s a domino effect. Marketing and sales have to work together to get the right pieces in place for the dominoes to fall, and if they don’t you’ll end up putting in a lot of work for a pretty disappointing result.

That being said, understanding what processes need to be in place and where you fit in your new strategy is paramount. Mastering the core tenants of an ABM model and when/how to implement them will not only ensure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts, but that the process will provide you with sustainable revenue moving forwards.

The key to executing this strategy lies in the amplification and validation of target lists to provide qualified opportunities to the executive sales team.

Creating a Target List

The first and foremost thing that an organization has to do when shifting to an ABM strategy is to create its target account list. Generated through the combined efforts of your marketing and product teams, this will be the reservoir list from which your sales team pulls accounts.

This target list serves the purpose of culling down the total universe of potential prospects to a more manageable list of good prospects. Eliminating the process of qualifying prospects out of your call plan and outreach will save the SDRs and sales team a lot of time and headaches, and allow them to focus on the more pertinent and higher potential revenue accounts.

The Marketing and Product teams will conduct the research and comb through analytics reports to find companies that fit the bill — pulling them based on company size, industry, revenue, etc… Sales Development will reinforce and validate that data through their own legwork by developing an ICP, or Ideal Customer Profile.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

When ICP comes up, a lot of organizations confuse that with “customer universe,” or the total scope of companies your executive sales team can reach out to. Instead, an ICP is what an Ideal account would look like for you. It’s in the right industry, the right size, has pain points your product can address, etc. Going about finding what that looks like is the challenge here, and is often developed after your SDR team finds qualitative information the marketing team couldn’t.

This information could range from how your product stacks up to competitors to how applicable it is within certain industries and verticals. Through these qualitative notes you’ll notice trends and patterns that solidify whether or not your product is a fit for a specific organization type.

Through the legwork an SDR puts into helping develop an ICP, your target account list will be narrowed down to the absolute best companies for your sales team to contact. This ICP will help the executive sales team determine whether or not the company they’re reaching out to will be a good fit, or provide the optimal level of revenue.

Sample flowchart of the Account-Based Process
Sample flowchart of the Account-Based Process

Validating a Target List

Through the combination of efforts from Marketing, Product, and Sales Development, you’ve now developed a list of target accounts that not only fit well with your product, but they’re with companies that you can get excited about. Account-Based Marketing requires buy-in from both your Marketing and Sales team for execution, but when it comes to preparing the Executive Sales team for outreach and closing deals you need to turn to the SDRs for guidance.

Account Mapping is the key to amplifying that target list from your marketing and sales team. A method of creating an organizational chart, account mapping is how your SDRs will pass along the best contacts within your target accounts to the sales team. The act of account mapping teases out all potential stakeholders and trigger events within your target accounts, through a variety of different methods, to make sure that the sales team is contacting the best people. The end result? Your team is talking to the best people in the best accounts.

Account mapping can take on many forms — either combing through a database, getting referrals, or finding qualitative information. LinkedIn, Zoominfo, and other popular databases are excellent sources of information for the SDRs on your team. They allow your SDRs to map out a skeleton of the company hierarchy and organizational chart, and from there find out the right groups and people to speak with.

Continuing the research phase SDRs will look for Trigger Events through Social Listening tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite, giving them insight into the potential reasons an organization would evaluate your product. Honing in on those will increase the ultimate relevance of the SDRs message, increasing their chances to connect with the prospect. After that, using a Phone Mapping technique will allow your SDRs to find qualitative information (competitors in place, available budget, key stakeholders, etc.) through live conversations on the phone. This will help them determine if the company is a good fit, or if it matches up with your ICP.

Multiple people own different pieces of the decision-making process, so when you’re executing an ABM strategy it’s important to glean information from each one. Doing this builds a deeper account profile to deliver to your executive sales team, giving them the information they need to close the deal.

Delivering Value with a Target List

Through the Account-Based process, you’re involving areas of marketing and sales to create a list of companies that will not only drive sustainable revenue but are good fits for your company and product. The end result of the creation, amplification, and validation of that target list is a deep account profile of your top target companies. In it, you’re able to glean insight into company initiatives, key stakeholders, industry trends, and more.

This is the main deliverable in the account-based process – deep insight into the best target accounts that allow your sales team to do their job better — closing deals. With that account profile delivered to your sales team, you’ve gone from a massive list of potential prospects down to a highly refined list of your ideal prospects.

The journey might begin with striving to gain a better understanding of your target accounts, but it ends with the creation of a handful of deep profiles — transforming those target accounts into ideal customers.

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aj alonzo

AJ Alonzo is the Head of Marketing at demandDrive. A former SDR turned marketing leader, he's made it his goal to develop resources for sales reps who are looking to level up and for managers who are looking for guidance. Outside of work you can find him trying to shoot under par at his local disc golf course, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks, or continuing his quest to be the very best like no one ever was.
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