Women in Sales Blog

Account Based Sales is the Hot Term Right Now: What Your Sales Reps Need to Know

Posted by Sep 29, 2016 9:53:53 AM Ali Powell

Account based marketing.

Account based sales. 

Account based sales development.

Account based prospecting. 

Account based this. Account based that.

Account based WHAT?


Okay, so what should you know and what should you care about for your sales team?

Account based sales and account based prospecting is not a new concept for most of sales reps. 

This is not a new strategy for most sales reps. The reason this term or variation of the term is taking off is because there are now software companies popping up in the market that help sales reps to do this process better and more efficiently.

That is why we are hearing the terms around account based marketing, account based sales etc more and more. People are finally catching on to the fact that being a good sales rep takes a lot of work, a lot of manual work and there is likely a better way to do this with software. Software companies that solve for account based sales are here to help sales reps with some of the manual work we have been doing for years. 

What do your great sales reps at your company look like? What do they all have in common? 

My CEO has asked me this for years. "Ali what makes your different?"

Until recently I have brushed him off and said things like I don't know Brian. I just do my job and work hard. I guess what I meant when I said that I work hard is actually that I work smart.

I have never been the kind of person to just call up a random lead in my name and tell them about what I do and hope for things to work out. No thank you. I don't like interrupting someone's day for no reason. So early on in my sales career I started to research companies to find reasons to reach out.

I work accounts/leads (whatever you want to call them) in a very strategic way. I started doing what we call account based sales and account based prospecting about 6 years ago when I first started at HubSpot as a BDR.

My boss would give me a list of companies he wanted me to target. I would find reasons to target them and those reasons would need to be timely reasons that I Knew HubSpot could likely help them. I would work those accounts until I got a yes or no from them. Over time I learned why targeting good fit companies is a better use of my time than just calling every random lead that comes to my territory.  

A good quality account with reasons to work it is worth my time. It is worth my work and dedication to get a yes or a no. 

Work smarter by targeting accounts in your prospecting process. Smart account based sales starts with prospecting. It starts with picking accounts that have reasons to be worked and those reasons are timely reasons. 

What happens when you prospect an account? It is either going to be converted to an opportunity that is going to go into your sales process or you will unqualify it. Those are both good outcomes. 

Would you like to have opportunities in your funnel that are poor ideal customer profile fits for your business with bad timing on potentially needing your help? Or would you rather have great fits based on your ideal customer profile with timely researched reasons to think you might be able to help them with what you sell?

I would take the 2nd option every day, all day long. Reasons plus timing is the dynamic duo. 

I don't wait around for things to come to me. There are reps who will only work inbound leads. That works for some people and for some territories. It doesn't work for me or for my territory. It doesn't work for the kinds of companies that I think we help best. It doesn't work for the kinds of companies that I want to work with and enjoy working with.  I want to stack the deck in my favor so I am working with high quality accounts that have good reasons to be working them with good timing to potentially need services or software that we sell now or in the very near term future. 


You might be thinking...but you work at an inbound marketing company? Are you saying inbound is no longer important.  Not at all. 

I appreciate and have always appreciated inbound leads that our marketing team sends me. BUT, I don't just work the inbound leads without doing research on them. If there is no reason that I should be working that company then I won't. I will send it back to marketing to continue to be marketed to and educated more. Maybe the company will be a better fit for us some day but my focus is always on finding top tier accounts that have reasons that I know we could help them and on top of that those reasons are timely for needing a software like ours. If I can't figure that out while doing research on an account I won't work it at that moment. 

I don't want any old account or any old lead to enter my pipeline. I don't want to spend time talking to people that aren't good customer profile fits for HubSpot. I focus on finding companies that I think we could help and that if they did end up becoming a customer they would be almost 100 percent happy based on what I have learned or researched on them.  

I would rather stack the deck in my favor by identifying high quality fits for HubSpot. Then I will target those companies by doing research on them and finding reasons to want to work those accounts. I will strategically go after those accounts based on the level of how HOT I think that account is.

Some people call this strategy working tiered accounts. Here is how I think about the concept of tiered accounts in prospecting. 

Tier One Accounts:

You have your hot accounts that have really, really amazing reasons that they could need your product or service that you sell. Those should be your tier 1 accounts that you are focused on hard core everyday. You need to get a yes or no from them. They are HOT and you should strategically work them until you get that yes or no. These are your top priority and should be tracked really well. 

Tier Two Accounts:

Then there are tier 2 accounts that maybe have some reasons you could work them but those reasons are not great. They are mediocre reasons that don't get you very excited about their potential with what you sell. You want to keep at them but you don't want to put all your time into them because the tier 1 accounts are better for so many reasons. 

Tier Three Accounts: 

Then there are tier 3 accounts, tier 4, etc, etc. You could keep going. Depends on your business model as to how far your extend your tiers out.  

The amount of personalization and dedication to your prospecting process on the account depends on their tier level. The strategies you use on these accounts should differ from tier to tier. 


Account based sales is not rocket science.

Most great sales reps have been doing some variation of account based sales and account based prospecting for a long time.

I would bet that when you look at your company's top sales reps you would see that they are doing this and have likely had this account based targeting process as part of their strategies for a long time.  They have been identifying good accounts for a long time and they don't wait around for high quality fits to come to them. They go identify the hot fits and go after them to try and help them. 

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

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