You must have heard of the term "account-based marketing" countless times within the past year.
Multiple thought leaders, companies, and analyst firms have defined the term, shown examples of the success it can bring within an organization when properly operated, and used it themselves.
Now, the term "account-based sales development" (ABSD) is growing in popularity and being discussed as to whether it's a profitable fit for a company, how to best organize and structure teams for it, how to execute on that strategy, and how to measure its success.
ABSD can be highly successful for some companies, such as those selling at the enterprise level. However, not every company is a good candidate for ABSD.
When teams are selling at the account level rather than the lead or contact level, you have to be more strategic with your prospecting. It takes more than a single person per team to make the prospecting strategy successful.
If you're selling at an enterprise level, this method of marketing and prospecting would be one to evaluate because the return can be much greater than current operations. Selling at an enterprise level contains multiple contacts at various levels and can spread throughout multiple offices. Being able to strategize a coordinated prospecting plan among team members into specific accounts will make for an efficient process, will be more effective (and tailored) to those contacts at identified accounts, and will be easier to track and manage progress.
But if you're selling into the mid-market space, you'll have to do some research to decide whether ABSD is the most appropriate approach for your company.
If you're selling to SMBs and startups, chances are that your average contract value isn't high enough to see the success of transitioning your sales process to ABSD.
Every company's sales structure, sales process company resources, and price point will vary. Each criterion needs to be evaluated to ensure that the time and effort of setting up an ABSD approach will yield the expected results.
If you fall somewhere in the middle and wonder whether ABSD is the right approach for you, check out some reasons you should not take an ABSD approach.
1. You haven't hit your pre-product/market fit
It's hard for a company and its founding team to admit it hasn't hit PMF. But you simply won't have enough information to support your ideal client profile.
Today's modern sales teams can achieve growth by using data to inform their decision. With all the new sales intelligence and predictive tools available, you can prequalify leads without ever having to talk to them.
However, if you don't know who your ideal client is, you can't afford to put all your eggs in one basket and narrow your audience. It's necessary to get more data points to support your ideal client profile before you engage in highly targeted selling. In fact, by talking to more people and moving in the opposite direction of ABSD, you'll be able to get to PMF quicker.
2. You don't have a predictable pipeline
In contact-based selling, opportunity pipeline value is determined after the first call with a lead. By this time, you've already done half the work, and you only now discover the value of the opportunity. This is similar to the previous warning that if you don't have enough data or the right data then you could be shooting yourself in the foot.
In ABSD, pipeline value for an opportunity is usually part of qualifying criteria, so you have a more reliable and predictable pipeline.
3. You're not positioned to move up market
Every sales team wants to be able to sell larger deals. Team members dream of the day they close their first million-dollar deal. But the truth is that not all companies are set up to handle large deals.
ABSD is a sales process, but it requires more than just your sales team. When done correctly, marketing is involved, and customer support and customer success will have pivotal roles as well. If your entire team is not ready, you could be setting up yourself and your teams for failure.
4. You don't have the technology required to perform ABSD
Some technologies are better suited for specific sales processes than others. Because ABSD requires a more personal approach, the tools you have previously used to automate everything may not give you the flexibility to add the customization and personalization required to sell at the account level.
Fortunately, you and your team can use multiple tools to help transition to a technology-backed ABSD team. Look for tools built off an ABSD strategy, so all prospecting functionalities (automated dialing technology, email, data procurement and appending, and workflows) are taken into consideration. Sales reps then can prospect more accurately and efficiently, which results in more qualified leads.
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ABSD can quickly boost your revenue and increase communication and alignment throughout your company.
When you focus on what works, management can begin to hold individual reps and entire teams more accountable to their numbers. (And an increase in accountability and responsibility directly correlates with an increase in performance.) However, ABSD is only going to be effective when it's structured properly and is a good fit for your company's offering. Make sure you thoroughly review the strategy needed.
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