The whole point of account-based sales is to focus your efforts on a relatively small number of high-value accounts that have the greatest potential impact on your bottom line. That's why the most important piece of the account-based sales model is to select the right target accounts.
The term account-based sales development could refer to a wide range of strategies. Since we wrote our first Account-Based Sales Development Playbook with PersistIQ, we've had a chance to talk to other leaders who are implementing this approach as well as learning from honing our own processes. Most companies don't approach account-based as an all-or-nothing strategy. In fact, most organizations that are doing account-based sales development are continuing to implement contact-based sales as well. We’ve even talked to teams that have three tiers of accounts they are going after. Let’s dive into that.
Tier 1 Accounts
Tier 1 accounts are your traditional ABSD targeted accounts where more energy and time is invested and spent on research and personalization to break into the account. Usually, you'll only have about 50 to 100 at the most for tier 1 accounts that you are targeting at any given time. If your team is truly focused on an account-based sales development strategy, most of their accounts should follow this process.
Tier 2 Accounts
Tier 2 accounts are a hybrid between account-based and contact-basted sales where there is personalization, but less time is spent on each account. At any given time you will be prospecting roughly 100-200 of these accounts.
Tier 3 Accounts
Tier 3 accounts have less qualifying criteria, allowing you to cast a wider net. You spend relatively little or no time at all personalizing your outbound efforts, rather relying on customization. Remember though, customization is not personalization.
A word of caution before you make tier 3 accounts part of your account-based strategy. This is quite the opposite of ABSD, but it’s important to note that some organizations are using it to supplement their efforts. In today’s market, B2B customers are expecting some level of personalization. In a research study conducted by Evergage, 89% of respondents who are focusing on personalization said they’re seeing measurable results. Of those, 53% are achieving improvements of 10% or more in key KPIs such as increased conversion rates, increased visitor engagement and improved customer experience. So, depending upon your target audience tier 3 may not be the most effective method. We’ve seen some teams that have their reps split time between tiers and we’ve also seen others split accounts by team, assigning one team solely to tier 1 accounts and another solely to tier 2 or 3.
The 3 Data Types You Need to Build Target Accounts
There are two ways to create your list of target accounts: manual or predictive. If this is your first time strategically prospecting select accounts, we recommend that you create the list manually rather than using predictive. The reason for this is that you're still testing and proving your target accounts and buyer personas. Only once you've realized results and have optimized the criteria you need, then you can begin to automate this process with predictive.
Either way, three types of data inputs will help you target and pre-qualify accounts: firmographic data, technographic data, and behavior data.
We touched on the importance of firmographic data in Part I of our ABSD Playbook but we feel a refresher is in order. What demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations. We want to identify the characteristics of organizations that will best predict a positive relationship.
Firmographic data might include:
- Company size
- Industry and vertical
- Growth trends
- Number of locations
- Status or structure
- Market share or industry position
The best sources of this information are:
- Dun & Bradstreet
To learn more about the next two data types, technographic and behavior, download the eBook below. The more data you can incorporate into your account selection process, the more accurate you can become at selecting target accounts. Once you figure out which data points are the most important to you and your company, you can then select the technology or service that will give you that data and work on segmenting it for your customized messaging approach.
Now that you have the recipe for account-based sales success, check out our Summer Sales Recipe below. Happy prospecting!