Many thought leaders in marketing say that an account-based sales strategy is like “fishing with a spear rather than a net.” The idea is to find the account you want to land and pursue it systematically. Depending on your industry, this may yield better results than the traditional sales path of lead generation and inbound marketing.
If you’re not familiar with the ABS approach, it can be a powerful tool for connecting with (and converting) highly desirable clients. How does it work? Let’s take a look at the methods and tactics used to close deals with account-based marketing.
What is account-based sales?
Account-based sales is a targeted approach to B2B sales where businesses focus on engaging with key accounts within their industries. With the account-based approach, sales teams create highly personalized experiences for potential customers and provide tailored solutions for their unique needs. This approach allows businesses to build relationships with key players in the market, engage with them directly, and drive more revenue. Additionally, companies can use account-based sales to expand their customer base and grow by focusing on strategic accounts.
Strategies for account-based sales
An account-based selling strategy builds relationships with a targeted list of high-value accounts. This approach involves various methods and strategies to reach potential customers:
Personalization: Account-based reps make their touchpoints personal. This includes personalization in emails, phone calls, and invitations to get the prospect’s attention. The personal touch lets recipients know that while it’s a sales call, it’s more than a mass communication to a curated or purchased lead list.
Targeted landing pages: Utilizing specialized landing pages tailored for different target accounts allows them to access the needed information quickly. Targeted landing pages allow account-based sales reps to focus on specific accounts within their lists. While tailored for different target accounts, these specialized landing pages provide potential customers with the relevant information they need in an organized and easy-to-access form. This lets them quickly gain the knowledge and resources necessary for making decisions and ultimately converting into customers.
Account-based retargeting: Retargeting is a form of online advertising that tracks engagement activities through an embedded tracer (such as the Meta Pixel) and strategically serves ads as the prospect browses other areas of the web, such as a Google search page or ad-supported website. The account-based selling model uses retargeting to regain a prospect’s attention after they take a specific action (like clicking on a social media post or visiting a landing page). Retargeting creates a personalized but passive touchpoint for potential customers. When done well, retargeting increases engagement by keeping the company in mind.
Sales segmentation: Sales segmentation is an advanced technique for account-based sales reps to customize each funnel to align with each customer segment. Sales reps use this segmentation approach to understand their prospects better and create tailored messaging that is much more likely to get a response. For example, they may create different versions of the same email or offer for different account segments based on specific insights. By creating customized experiences based on segmentation, sales reps increase engagement with prospects and help them feel their needs are being met.
Nurture campaigns: Nurture leads are a big part of account-based selling, as this method focuses on establishing and maintaining client relationships over time. This type of campaign can include targeted emails, personalized content, and sales touches such as webinars and seminars. Additionally, nurture campaigns allow tracking customer behavior and gaining insights into what resonates with each account. This allows reps to create relevant content that draws prospects' attention. Nurturing campaigns ultimately increase customer engagement and trust in an organization’s products or services and drive opportunities for future sales.
What's the difference between account-based and lead-based sales?
Where account-based sales target a smaller, highly curated list of key accounts, lead generation attracts a larger group of people who may not necessarily be interested in purchasing right away. Marketers attract these leads through various tactics:
Telemarketing (cold calling)
Search-based advertising, aka sponsored ads
Lead generation requires more diverse marketing efforts to build awareness, create interest, and educate potential customers about your products or services. Account-based sales targets users who may already be interested in your services.
Lead generation relies heavily on analytics data to identify qualified leads, whereas the account-based sales approach requires more personalized outreach and relationship building.
What does the typical account-based sales process include?
ABS can be simplified into four major phases: Profiling, research, outreach, and conversion. Each stage of this process should involve personal touchpoints and personalization through strong segmentation and account research:
To generate a list of target accounts, marketers or sales reps identify their most likely candidates using several characteristics. This is called an ideal customer profile (ICP), sometimes also called buyer personas. Marketers identify their ICP using various data points to narrow their search:
Company size and demographics
Industry or sector
Target market share
Depending on the product or service being sold, marketers may also use sentiment analysis to determine what types of prospects are likely to be interested in engaging with a brand or making a purchase. They may use other methods, such as competitive intelligence, customer profiles, geographic information, past relationship data, and performance metrics to build a comprehensive profile of each target account.
Target account research
Once the marketer has a detailed profile of their ideal customer, they generate a list of target accounts. Automation tools, databases, and software quickly identify viable prospects that meet ICP criteria. Social media research on sites like LinkedIn can also yield valuable information for fine-tuning target account management and outreach strategies.
For each target account on the list, the marketer creates a detailed file about the key stakeholders within each target. This is the beginning of the personalization process in ABM. The outreach process begins once the target account is enriched with all available data.
In this stage, marketers focus their outreach efforts on contacting the key players within each account. This should involve building relationships and helping to solve pain points for key company decision-makers. This also includes gathering additional information about their specific needs and interests and using that information to enrich the target account profile. Marketers need to stay up-to-date with changes within the targeted accounts, such as personnel changes or any new product launches that could affect the decision-making process within that company. Additionally, understanding the competitor landscape may inform a marketing team's sales strategy regarding account-based sales.
This is where the outreach efforts pay off. As accounts gain interest in your product or service, they show interest in more information. Decision-makers may reach out to see a demo, ask questions, conduct a trial, and explore pricing. Personalization at this stage is as important as the rest of the process. With diligent efforts to make a genuine connection, decision-makers see you as a trusted partner, making them more likely to commit to a sale.
How to improve account-based sales results
Account-based sales is about the long game: building rapport with a prospect so they come to see you as a collaborator. The effect of the ABS strategy is that prospects feel a personal connection, never getting the impression that they are just another name in a CRM database.
Use these three practices to increase the connection and the win rate in your ABS campaigns:
1. Commit to deep research
Researching ideal customer profiles is essential for ABS success. Knowing the right types of accounts to target and how to meet their needs can make or break a campaign. By researching potential customers, teams create more effective messaging that resonates with prospects and provides them with valuable information.
2. Stay informed of change
Keeping informed about key accounts can give you a competitive edge in ABS outcomes. This is especially true in the wake of disruptions from COVID-19, where nearly 40 percent of respondents cited changed account profiles (such as changes in remote work, turnover, layoffs, or market changes affecting whole organizations) as a challenge. Knowing how the account has evolved, changes in the organization or company structure, their current needs, and how your product or service could help them greatly impacts successful sales. View every change in a target account organization as an opportunity to reach out, offer value, and become a partner in their success.
3. Offer variety in content
Using various content and touchpoints can help increase target account engagement. Multiple pieces of content such as blog posts, webinars, white papers, or even engaging videos offer prospects an opportunity to learn more about your product. These content offerings build trust in your organization. Depending on the account size, it can also be helpful to engage multiple times through various sales channels such as email, phone calls, networking events, etc. By utilizing various forms of content and communication channels, you can provide more comprehensive information at each touchpoint essential for a successful account-based sale.
Implementing video in ABS campaigns
Personalization is a key element in account-based sales development, and video is one of the easiest ways to add personalization to your sales outreach. In fact, respondents to the HubSpot State of Marketing 2023 report called video the number one media format in terms of ROI. There are many ways to implement the power of video to your sales touch points in ways that feel natural and non-intrusive.
Use some of these strategies when planning outreach to leads in your ABM campaign:
Video email introductions: Record an email introduction and include a video in the body of your email so that leads get a personalized message from you. Video intros establish trust and open communication because leads see and hear the person behind the outreach. You can also use video emails to provide demonstrations or explain details that can't be adequately conveyed through text alone.
Discovery call follow-ups: Keep a warm conversation going after the initial discovery call with a short video to thank the prospect for their time, share additional information, and invite them to take the next step toward closing. These videos may highlight use cases identified during the call, share incentives, or simply keep your organization top-of-mind after a productive first call.
Demo videos: Visual demonstrations are often more persuasive and informative than a written description, making highlight videos a great way to show off a feature of your product or service. Video can be used to answer a commonly asked question or demonstrate functionality and benefits that may not be easily conveyed in writing. A video drives home the value of your offering to a prospect and encourages them to take action.
Meeting recaps: If you’re getting close to the finish line with a prospect, keeping in touch and staying on the same page is essential. A video recap helps to consolidate and reinforce the ideas shared in a meeting. It allows for a quick summary of the key points, decisions, or action items agreed upon and ensures parties are on the same page. The recap can also be a reminder for follow-up, deadlines, or deliverables. Recaps are useful when the deal involves multiple decision-makers, allowing your point of contact to share information with the whole team.
Question and response: Questions are a great indication your prospect is moving closer to a decision and needs clarity. Explainer videos help demonstrate the concepts visually rather than through text. For instance, answering a technical question with a screen-capture video allows the recipient to see and understand the process more readily than reading an email reply or listening to a phone message. Video also helps maintain the personalization in an important touchpoint.
Use Loom for successful ABS outreach
Personalized videos with screen capture, webcam, and audio are highly engaging and effective for account-based marketers and salespeople. They treat every prospect as an individual and help sales professionals deliver information with a personal touch.
Loom is the free screen recorder tool that lets businesses of all sizes create fast, personalized videos, edit them with professional quality tools, and share them quickly and easily to any device or channel.
Start recording for free on your desktop, Chrome browser, iOS, or Android device with Loom today.