It was great seeing everyone at Inside Sales World Dublin! Our sales experts were on hand with great coffee and great advice for sales teams across Europe! Earlier, we teased a small introduction to Khuram’s presentation on Account Based Sales. In case you missed it at Inside Sales World, here are 4 ways to LOSE and 4 ways to WIN with Account Based Sales!
Recap: What is Account Based Sales?
Account based selling might be one of the hottest trends in B2B sales right now, and it’ s really more than just a buzzword!
Simply put, it takes insights from marketing to make sales more effective by helping the sales rep to address the needs of a whole account, rather than just a single lead. Similar to the concept of enterprise selling, accountbased selling is about working with all of the decision makers who need to sign off on a purchase in order to close the deal.
Account based sales offers a variety of advantages to a sales rep: it allows them to pursue leads strategically for greater effectiveness, it makes it easier to track outcomes, and helps to maintain brand reputation by positioning the rep as someone who possesses helpful knowledge and can add value to their customers.
Most companies with a dedicated outbound sales department either fish in the dark for new leads or struggle with finding the right profiles. In simple terms, account based sales is a better way of connecting with your target audience on a more personal level. ABS ensures your success of connecting with the right decision maker(s).
4 ways to LOSE in Account Based Sales
1. Too Many Leads!
This is one we get a lot of pushback on, but let’s walk through this. When we say you’re giving your sales reps too many leads, we’re not suggesting you limit your sales rep’s access or choice of sales-ready leads. We urge you to let your reps Work Extensively through accounts. By the very nature of its name, Account Based Sales is a focus on developing relationships with not just one stake holder at any given company, but at multiple levels within the organization as a whole.
What I’m getting at here, is that your reps need more time with each account. There’s a difference between a quota of X calls per day vs. X connects per Account. When my Sales Reps have connects with a couple of prospects but with multiple people, we treat that as a WIN. A comfortable relationship between prospect and salesperson is vital to your ABS process, so if you’re team needs to work through a significant volume of leads every single day, there’s no avenue for them to develop these relationships.
This is a true quality over quantity approach, Better Leads means better potential and a lower churn rate.
So, lets help your team build better relationships from the start. Instead of the “spray and pray” approach to building a client base, your account based process should start with core accounts. When your sales reps start a relationship, urge them to get introduced to a few more people at that target company. A minimum 4/5 leads per account will give a fuller picture of some differing needs from your potential client base as a whole. We’ll get back to this later, but on average more than 5 decision makers sign off on a b2b purchase. Is the one person you speak to enough to call the shots, or is talking to more in the account really going to drive the deal? Start thinking of measuring metrics such as connects/account.
2. Selling to the wrong customers
We will see why it is important to connect with multiple personas at the target account. But lets first understand the concept. When entering a new market we still may be doing a lot of discovery on what persona is going to buy from us. So it goes without saying that we will be targeting different categories. For example if we are selling sales software then we may be targeting sales management and sales reps.
If we are selling insurance then we may be targeting risk managers or CFO’s.
It is important not to confuse the persona with actual job titles of your target buyer. Think of persona’s as the general buckets which define possible buyers. Within that bucket we maybe targeting multiple job titles for example: Sales VP, Sales Director, Sales Management. A good ABS solution should be able to provide this type of analysis.
But why is connecting with multiple persona’s and the right titles within them relevant if there is already a relationship i.e. when hunting for new opportunities with existing client. Well ABS is all about relationships at multiple levels within the target account. Obviously not everybody in the account needs to hear from the sales person but we do need to figure out the stakeholders for each opportunity.
Using sales software exclusively for workflows or cadences
“Just touching base” or “ Just checking in”
“I don’t want to waste your time”
“Can you forward this to the decision maker?”
“I’m going to reach out to try and connect…”
Do you recognize these?
They are hallmarks of crappy email templates. These are lazy, impersonal, and ask too much of your prospects. What’s more, at this stage they don’t know who you are and they might not care.
How many of these do you get in a day?
3: Using sales software exclusively for workflows or cadences
Let’s fix those emails with better email practices. Despite the rise of several high-tech vendors in this space, it seems we as a market are only trying to automate what we have always expected sales people to do. Simply put we want them to stick to the process. In the past following a process may have been hard due to disparate technology systems now some of these have been combined and it’s really easy to annoy your leads now. Here’s an Example: we can now combine call and email steps into single workflow. What does this result in? Well we are more consistent in spamming our target audience.
The roots of this lies in the peace of mind which sales management is looking for. Lets setup a process which will make sure that everyday certain steps are executed by our sales reps. That is great from an activity perspective but we need to start focusing on the outcomes. We cannot differentiate by just getting through all the process steps. By doing this, the goal becomes adhering to the steps in the process rather then ultimate goal such as winning an opportunity. We have tested these models and found that cadences start piling tasks for the rep where rep is only playing catch up with the tasks and starts to lose motivation. Please take a look at your sales process and sales tools, specifically how they are affecting your rep’s workload. Look for how reps deal with volume, specifically how overdue or drawn out cadences might be handled in relation to newer workflows.
4: Single view of your accounts
The Account view needs to be an amalgamation of information from different views or tools
This means that we have one view of all our leads and contacts attached to the account. It may be utopian thinking to have one single system to do this. A marketing automation system should have at least consolidated view and your CRM. It is key that we have a consolidated view of the account but also all the activity for the account whether it is marketing activity or sales activity. This is important so that all activity is aligned and sales reps are not doing counter productive activity. For example if a new lead comes in, inbound then it should be immediately attached to the account otherwise the inbound rep may be hanging on the phone with the person completely ignoring the strategy for the account which may already be running. Such conversations taking place or meetings planned.
4 ways to WIN in Account Based Sales
1. Understand the value of Customer Consensus
In order to sell effectively in a modern B2B setting, you have to persuade a whole team of the values of your product. If you’re selling an IT product, for example, then traditionally you would have sold to the CIO and their team. With an account based sales approach, you would approach the chief marketing officer, chief financial officer, legal department, and the procurement executives as well as the CIO. The ability of groups of disparate agents to come together to make a sales-related decision is referred to as customer consensus, and you’ll need to understand the psychology of group decision making to be a successful salesperson in this context.
A frequently reported study published by CEB in 2015 found that on average, more than 5 decision makers must sign off on a B2B purchase.
And this is precisely why we recommend getting to know as many members of the company as a whole. Different needs for departments or even team members should drive your pitch, and the more you know about each decision maker will make your pitch smarter and lead to a better deal for both firms. Your pitch needs to address all the concerned stakeholders.
5 decision makers, that probably means 5 different job titles and 5 different responsibilities. If you can’t make a majority of these people happy, they won’t sign on the dotted line.
2.Becoming the Trusted Advisor To Your Lead
This also ties in to “way to fail #1”! (Too many leads) You’ll have better relationship with your clients as you get more questions from them over time. We love questions, questions about the product mean the prospect wants to learn more and is trying to fit us into their use case. That’s exactly the type of behavior you want from your prospects!
In order to extract the maximum amount of useful information from your lead, you need to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them. That means that you need to be providing them with value, even during the research phase. Make sure that you’re thoroughly knowledgeable about the positioning of your product within your field, and find out about the problems and pain points faced by their company in particular. Show your lead that beyond just understanding your product, you have a clear picture of how the product can benefit their company specifically. Building this kind of relationship with your lead will help them to see you as someone who is on their team and adds value to their work, rather than them seeing you as an outsider.
3. Marketing and Sales finally have a common project
Now, The ABS process translates to a business that’s been making even more noise: Account Based Marketing. Finding your buying personas and driving more interest within an organization is exactly what Marketing spends their time doing! Right now is a great opportunity to bring both teams into sync, and the right platform to do that is an ABS process. Marketing needs to support sales teams to execute an effective ABS strategy. And if sales does not adopt an ABS approach then marketing can do all the account based marketing in the world.
“If Marketing and Sales do not cooperate, the company’s strategy will be inconsistent and weak.” – Benson Shapiro, Harvard marketing expert
4. How Relevant are you to your Prospects?
What do you offer the prospect that they can’t find online?
You should never be sending out generic emails or working from a generic phone script! Customers can tell when you are going through the motions, and will disengage quickly if you don’t make your pitch relevant to them personally. So let’s consider how you can personalize your materials to score that account.
When you’re excited your product, it’s tempting to give details about the product, your company, and yourself when talking to your leads. Resist this impulse, however, and focus instead on what you can do for them. Talk about the pain points or difficulties which you know that their company is experiencing, and then you can talk about how your product will help alleviate these. Talk less about yourself and more about the customer. The key here is to make sure that all of the information you provide is relevant to the company. Go back to your research if necessary so that you can tailor the information to their needs specifically.
Remember not to overload them with info until they’re ready for it. You want to provide the highlights of the most relevant information to the customer, not bombard them with small details which they won’t remember and which may distract from your key message.
We believe content is hidden treasures which has been well known to marketing but sales needs to discover. Sales person needs to delight his prospects with insights through sharing highly valuable content. And in this age of data also understand what content is really working for different segments of ICP’s to a really granular level. Use the content not just in campaigns but in every aspect of your sales activity, why not show some valuable slides when you do a follow up call after such a campaign.
So those are our 4 warnings of problems to avoid in an Account Based Sales Process, and 4 strategies to really prove the method with your own Sales team.