What Does Account-Based Sales Development Mean?

SqueezeA couple years ago, “sales development” became the agreed-upon name for what we’ve all been doing.  It makes sense — most sophisticated sales organizations have created a specialized roles that are 100% focused on developing the early stage sales funnel, either inbound, outbound, or some combination of the two.

Now the consensus seems that we need to affix “account-based” to the “sales development” function and I’m glad.

The tag clarifies how the process should work — particularly in the context of an outbound sales process — and elevates sales development from low cost, brute force, smiling and dialing to a strategic, complex sales process.

So what does account-based sales development mean?

The account-based sales development concept is pretty simple — we think it boils down to a “Right Company, Right Person, Right Message” framework:

Right Company — Define a list of target companies (or “accounts”) that meet a certain criteria — size, industry, geography, installed software, funding, etc.  The more narrowly you define your target company, the better — you’re going to build a process to squeeze every last drop out of lots and lots of oranges, so you need to make sure that the juice is always worth the squeeze.

Right Person — For each company segment that you create, define a list of desired job titles inside of each company.  Focus on your top 2 or 3 titles to start, but don’t ignore the secondary titles that might connect to your primary titles.  For example, if your primary target is VP Marketing, you might consider other marketing titles and maybe even CEO and/or VP Sales titles.

Right Message — Build and execute a process that enables your sales team to systematically work through each person at each company with the right message, sent via multiple channels including email, phone, social, and banner ads and targeted for the specific prospect and their stage / impact on the buying cycle.

An example…

You sell marketing software to mid-size software companies.

XYZ Co is an ideal target customer — it is a software company with 57 employees, it recently raised a Series B, it is hiring for several marketing roles, and it has Google Analytics installed on xyzco.com, which integrates with your marketing software.

You’ve sourced the VP of Marketing but have also found a Director, Marketing and two Marketing Coordinators that work for the company.  The CEO and the VP Sales are also frequently involved in the decision process.

You start with the VP of Marketing and execute a series of targeted, personalized sales actions (email, phone, and social)…but get no response.  You move on to the Director of Marketing, no dice.  You finally get a connect with a Marketing Coordinator and schedule an intro call with the Marketing Coordinator and the Director of Marketing.  Success!

Do this over and over, for all of the companies that meet your target criteria and you’re doing account-based sales development!  Way to go!