Women in Sales Blog

The Basics: Guide for Starting Target Account Sales to Enable Account Based Marketing

Posted by Aug 17, 2016 2:29:10 PM Ali Powell


Every marketer today is hot on talking about Account based marketing. What about the sales reps? What do the sales reps need to do to enable marketing to market to our target accounts better? 

Since I sell marketing software that helps marketers to do their marketing I naturally start to think about how our software aligns or doesn't align with this idea of account based marketing and account based sales. 

It seems like marketers ask questions about reporting on accounts because they want to understand how sales is interacting with accounts rather than actually DOING account based marketing.

It seems like marketing wants to know how sales is working accounts and how contacts within accounts are interacting with the content that the marketing team is pushing out.

Target Account selling or target account sales is not a new concept.

It is just a hot topic today. I can see why and how this has evolved and has come to the top right now. 

We started with lead intelligence on a CONTACT record. The contact record's lead intelligence has now evolved to understanding the contacts under the company or account level. 

Lead intelligence has helped sales reps for a while to sell smarter as well as help marketing to market smarter to contacts we are working as sales reps. It seems like a natural progression to go from thinking about the individual contact records in your database to thinking about the account level with contacts below that account and marketing to those people differently based on context. 

Sales reps have been doing target account selling and target account prospecting forever.

Good sales reps target accounts that they think they can help with what they sell. Within those target accounts there are contacts that can be further looked at and researched to gather more insight into the account to understand how to approach them and prospect the account. 

This target account strategy should not be the sole responsibility of marketing. 

Account based marketing can only be effective if the sales reps are picking and targeting high quality target accounts. The information needs to be up to date in the accounts and contact records in CRM for marketing to do anything worthwhile with those accounts and contacts.

I have always believed that you should care about quality over quantity in sales.

I don't want to waste my time reaching out to anyone and everyone to see if we can help. Why not put myself in a better spot and only reach out to people at companies that I know we can probably help based on research done. Seems pretty straight forward to me and what I have been doing for a long time. 

Sales reps should be thinking about certain things when defining their target accounts for marketing to market to on behalf of the sales rep.

There is an ideal process you can follow for account based sales and marketing by following these steps: 

1. WHO should you target and WHY should you target them? 

A target account should have characteristics that make this account a TARGET. You should only target accounts that have need and where timing is potentially on point based on your research. 

You need to know who you want to go after and why. Sales reps set the potential ROI by defining high quality accounts. 

Instead of waiting for people to come to you, you decide you want to go to them because you think you can help and you target them strategically through sales prospecting and through marketing.

You have a reason to think that you could have value for this company so you are actively going to approach them and see if you can help them based on what you have learned about them from your research. 

  • The account should have reasons that you have found out and researched about the company and contacts at the company that make you want to work them.
  • Those reasons need to be TIMELY.

To be a really good target account the company should have both of these qualities: reasons you think you can help with what you sell AND those reasons and triggers must be TIMELY. You get both of  those and that is a high quality TARGET ACCOUNT. 

You must have good reasons that you think what you sell could help the company AND those reasons must make you think that what you sell could be timely. 

If you don't have both of those then you should not mark the account as a target. Target accounts need to be marked as target accounts for a reason and those reasons MUST ALSO BE timely. 

2. Mark about 10 target accounts a week and make sure you update those accounts with next steps and next step dates.

WHY are you reaching out to them? 

This is where your research comes in to play. 

  • Do research on the accounts that you are marketing as a target.
  • Write all of your research down in your notes in the account.
  • Create a next step date and next step field in your CRM on the account level so you can mark down what is going on with the account and what the trigger is for you working it right now as well as a next step date so you know when to follow up on your last prospecting activity.

3. Map out the people in the account that should know about what you sell and that you think you could help based on your research.

  • Put every contact into CRM under the account.
  • Make sure you mark those contacts as high, medium or low dependent upon the buying power and need they might have in your product or service.
  • This will help you in targeting the right contacts in different ways via marketing tools that your marketing team will use to do account based marketing off of your contacts in your target accounts.

Once you have your accounts marked as target accounts you should work with your marketing team or your territory marketer to define the process you want marketing to do with your accounts and contacts. 

No company is the same as another for how this process will work. You can use this framework to build your target account sales process around for your own sales and marketing teams. 

Now that you know how to target accounts and why to target them you have to figure out what you want to market them with marketing's help.

Think about what would be helpful for marketing to do with your contacts in your target accounts.

1. Should people under your target accounts be marketed to differently by industry or by title?

2. Should you be using marketing automation to certain contacts and not for others?

3. Should you use personalization of content?

4. What is the best way to market to them and how? What channels are best?

5. Should you market by persona and is that messaging different from persona to persona or territory to territory? 

Make sure that you track your success of your target accounts so you can see how marketing helped to impact new opportunities on your target accounts as well as how marketing impacted helping you win a deal. 

This idea of account based marketing is not just a marketing initiative. It is an initiative that should include both sales and marketing working together. 

To make account based sales and account based marketing work really well together this must be a joint venture. It must be a continuous process that you both are working at all the time to define the right process.

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Topics: account based marketing, target account selling, target account prospecting, account based sales, account based selling

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