The Real Skills of Account-Based Selling

When it comes to selling, relationships work. People appreciate personalized service.

But you can’t rely on relationships to sell more if you aren’t servicing the right people or treating them correctly. Sales to enterprises with complex needs and numerous stakeholders are especially hard because you have many chances to drop the ball.

Account-based selling can help you close more deals with larger companies, but you must invest time and resources in doing so. You must commit entire teams of salespeople, supported by colleagues from other departments, to engaging multiple contacts within a single targeted company.

Build your account-based selling plan around these key skills.

Aligning Sales and Marketing

Account-based selling is a team approach. Involving representatives from every department is essential to ensuring that you target the right prospects and do so effectively.

The alignment between sales and marketing is particularly important because leads will engage with them most often. So your sales and marketing teams must portray the same message.

You also should secure support at all levels of your organization. Bottom-up communication can inform you of what prospects want, but executive involvement could be needed to convince them that your company will deliver.

Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile

Reviewing your best customers helps you determine the types of leads you should pursue. You also learn which companies you should avoid.

Assess customers in terms that matter most to you, like how long they have been a customer, how much revenue they generate or how many referrals they produce for you. Depending on the product or service you provide, you may also want to consider variables like whether they pay on time, how difficult they are to work with or account profitability.

In its comprehensive guide to account-based sales, HubSpot suggests that you base your ideal client profile (ICP) on these six factors.

  • Team member input – Form a well-rounded profile by incorporating the perspectives of each department, including finance and operations.
  • Firmographics – Look for commonalities in characteristics such as industry, revenue, and market share.
  • Internal data – Analyze your CRM information for trends in areas such as closed-won accounts and account profitability.
  • Technographics – Identify which, if any, tools customers use in addition to yours.
  • Behaviors – Cull behavioral data for similarities in areas such as event attendance or product news.
  • Predictive analytics – Develop a model for projecting your chances of closing a particular deal and determining next steps.

Creating Buyer Personas

You must connect with seven stakeholders to close a typical B2B deal, according to HubSpot. Each of those stakeholders has different interests, goals, and responsibilities.

But you must engage each stakeholder individually. Creating a buyer persona for each type of stakeholder will help your reps connect with each decision-maker in relevant terms at each point in the purchasing process.

Well-informed buyer personas based on good data can earn you the right to speak with leads by demonstrating the extent of your research, according to a Salesforce article on rules for account-based selling.

Identifying Target Accounts

Salesforce also recommends that you identify specific accounts that would match your ideal client profile. For example, you can research which companies are most likely to buy from you in terms of size or industry.

HubSpot suggests you divide your list of target accounts into tiers, with varying degrees of personalization and attention. Give the tier with the fewest accounts the most attention, devoting your top resources. These are the accounts that you would most like to win.

Customizing Content

“Best-in-class organizations achieve up to a 21 percent stronger lead acceptance rate and a 36 percent higher conversion average by using sales tools for content personalization at the sales rep level,” Salesforce notes, citing research from Aberdeen Group.

Personalize content so that it addresses pain points and areas of buyer interest as specifically as possible. Keep advancing opportunities by providing appropriate content for the stage of the sales process that your contact is in at the moment.

Leveraging Events

Research upcoming events for opportunities to meet contacts, Bizible suggests in a list of account-based marketing tactics.

See if any of your targeted accounts will be sponsoring or attending an event that you plan to attend. Then be prepared to talk with the specific contacts you meet.

If you will be exhibiting at an event, invite contacts at target accounts to visit your booth. Offer them ways to meet outside of the exhibition hall, such as parties or dinners, Bizible suggests.

You can still build a business on relationships. But you must build more relationships within a business than you once did when you sell to large organizations with varied needs, interests, and stakeholders.

Help your team sell more by building an account-based selling plan with these key skills.

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