Editor’s note: Shari Johnston is a guest contributor. She’s a Managing Director and the Marketing Practice Lead at Winning by Design, a premier strategy consulting and coaching provider for SaaS sales, customer success, and other B2B sales organizations. She recently led a workshop on using account-based strategies for Espresso, which you can access here.
Adopting an account-based strategy is a way of bringing greater focus to your company’s go-to-market efforts. It’s about ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are aligned around the common goal of winning and growing those accounts that you think will be your next best customers. In other words, it means being laser focused on the accounts with the most potential, rather than going after all of them full steam ahead.
While there are numerous benefits to taking an account-based approach — not least of which is being able to accelerate growth by winning new business and deepening existing relations — there are a handful of reasons why most companies often embrace account-based strategies. For example, they may have reached an inflection point or critical stage in their evolution, such as being ready to go to the enterprise. Or it could be that their demand gen strategy simply isn’t producing the ROI they want or that their sales and marketing teams aren’t as aligned as they should be.
Whatever the case, for most companies, deciding whether or not to use account-based strategies is also a function of annual contract value (ACV). If your ACV is $10,000, for instance, it probably isn’t economically viable to give each of your accounts one-to-one attention. On the other hand, if your ACV is $500,000 or more, the calculus is quite different.
A closer look at account-based strategies
When you take an account-based approach, the goal is to get your sales and marketing teams aligned and working together. That alignment should start with identifying the specific accounts that you’re going to target. Typically, they’re going to be a combination of your best existing customers, who you can potentially upsell and cross-sell to, as well as prospects who share specific attributes with your best customers that you think make them more likely to convert. For example, that could be the size of their IT team or the fact that they use a particular technology.
Once you have a target set of accounts, you need to ensure that you’re dedicating enough of your resources to building revenue against those targets. Simply having a target set of accounts, but only dedicating a fraction or your resources toward them, for example, isn’t a winning strategy. Rather, you should have dedicated sales development reps whose sole focus it is to engage those accounts in meaningful ways.
From strategy to action
When you start thinking about how to actually engage your key accounts as part of an account-based strategy, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that you always want to be perceived as delivering value to your target accounts. There are lots of ways to do that. For example, you can create opportunities for them to mingle with their peers by hosting a happy hour or virtual event, or you could help solve one of their problems by publishing eBooks or hosting webinars.
Other great tactics include trying to make your key accounts feel special by inviting them to be a guest on your podcast, giving them the opportunity to contribute to a piece of your thought leadership, or sending them a gift. Or you could give them access to your senior leaders by setting up one on one meetings with key executives.
The other really important thing to remember is that whatever outreach you do, you want it to be targeted, relevant, and personalized. This isn’t the time for spray-and-pray approaches. You want everything you do to be very customized for the specific account you’re targeting so that it really resonates.
Finally, make sure that you’re measuring your success on an account by account basis. When it comes to account-based strategies, MQL volume just isn’t relevant. Instead, you want to see how your focused approach is helping to move the needle and grow revenue at each individual account that you’re targeting.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use account-based approaches to help accelerate your company’s growth, I encourage you to watch the webinar I recently hosted for Espresso Capital.