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FoxBound’s Tactical Guide to Account-Based Sales

FoxBound - Pipeline Generation Platform

Tactical, Real-World Advice for Surviving and Thriving with Account-Based Sales

Figuratively speaking,  raise your hand if you’ve heard one of these as your organization targets larger & more complex customers..

Going account-based? Shifting upmarket?  “Hyper-personalization?” Multi-channel approaches?

Now [figuratively] cover your ears, the noise from today’s best buzzwords and phrases can hurt!

In all seriousness, there’s no shortage of reasons for the shift towards ABM/ABS. And to be clear, we’re not here to convince you that a mutually coordinated effort from all departments is non-negotiable for driving interest and change within complex companies to land large deals. 

Make no mistake, an account-based approach is the right way to sell to high-value, key accounts. You know that, and we know that. 

What we’re here to do is help to cut through the endless sea of high-level, rewritten, syndicated, fluffy content on this subject. Based on years of collective experience from our team selling a variety of services & products across many different verticals, we’ve prescribed an actionable framework for: 

  • Using segmentation to guide your program
  • Generating buyer personas to communicate in buyer-centric fashion
  • Prioritizing targets based on data
  • Working with other team members/departments to execute 
  • Creatively & authentically engaging key prospects, gathering intel, building familiarity, and..
  • Above all – converting your dream accounts and ideal prospects.

Volumes can be written on each subject, but we’ll deliver the highlights on each. In the process, we’ll tie together tooling and process to execute an account-based sales strategy (without over-engineering or falling prey to “analysis paralysis”)

Oh, and best of all? You don’t have to be a billion dollar company to gather the resources to make this happen. In fact, you can be a brand new startup and do this – we promise 🙂

First Things First..

#1 Let's debunk a few common myths before diving in.

There’s many more, but here’s a few we need to knock out. 

  • Myth: Adopting and implementing an ABM/ABS motion will be extremely costly.
  • Reality: In terms of headcount, supporting marketing technology, direct mail,  ad dollars, etc – ABM tends to carry a hefty price tag. However, pure account-based sales can be implemented at a fraction of the resources (although air cover from our friends in marketing never hurts)
  • Myth: ABS/ABM really only applies to the top Fortune 100-2,000 accounts.
  • Reality: The exception to the rule? Think of it this way. A commercial, mid-market, or even SMB account can be classified as “key” depending on the revenue that can be extracted. Just because a company is smaller in headcount, don’t overlook a high-touch, authentic approach if there’s real value to be extracted. 
  • Myth: Our marketing department has declared we’re doing “ABM.” Qualified pipeline is going to fall out of the sky anytime now.. 
  • Reality: While Marketing is in fact the operative word of ABM, ABM/ABSis a team sport. Marketing can’t do it alone, it takes grit and resilience from sales and the rest of the go-to-market team.
  • Myth: We can throw some cash at some shiny new tools or services and slap an ABM tag on there, right?
  • Reality: Wrong. While the right tooling can make or break a program, it’s not everything. ABM/ABS programs require a culture of adoption, collaboration, respect, patience, adaptability, and perseverance. Especially in environments where sales teams are historically centered around a pure inbound or generic outbound model, it takes strong leadership and investments in training & change management to reprogram a team into ABM/ABS mode. 

#2 The Cast of Main Characters

Again, it’s a team sport here. Account Executives / Reps are tasked with leading the execution of the sales motion and marshaling internal resources. Who can we as reps lean on? Generally speaking, here’s who we’ll be bringing into the picture: 

  • Sales & Business Development Reps: Important players in gathering intelligence, executing process, and helping AE’s level-up to stronger stakeholders. 
  • Sales Leadership: The titles can play a huge part in engaging senior stakeholders in key accounts. Don’t overlook the value of a well placed, well timed message from senior leadership in ABM programs. 
  • Marketing: Delivering content & all the marketing resources for us sales reps to put to work!
Account-Based Blog Graphic

#3 The Technology

Account-based and enterprise sales is hard enough on its own, so don’t let a lack of tools or bad technology limit your efforts.

Account-Based Blog Graphic

For best results, you’ll need: 

  • Data Sources: B2B contact repositories and lead-capture tools to amplify prospecting on LinkedIn
  • Command of your CRM: A working knowledge of building and pulling reports for prioritization 
  • Marketing Automation: Great for triggers, measuring engagement, and understanding historical interactions between a target account and your brand leading up to the present day. 
  • Sales Automation: For this framework, sales automation is really a pre-requisite. Otherwise, you’ll fine yourself spinning your wheels and wasting time with manual work much more fit for a robot.
  • LinkedIn: A staple of any B2B sales team – advanced editions enable reps to map out key stakeholders and navigate accounts. 

#4 Other Assumptions

As the foundation for this framework, we’re going to assume you & your company have clearly defined and understand the following (if they need to built or dusted off, rewind and come back)

  • Ability to communicate your offering’s value to various buyer personas within an organization (can you speak CXO and translate to an end-user?)
  • Understanding of your value drivers (here’s our eBook) and qualification criteria
  •  You’re pursuing deals that have a price tag / opportunity size of at least $25k in initial contract value. Ideally, a $50k initial purchase  but in reality this approach is fit for cracking complex accounts with 6 or 7 figure deal size.

 

Getting Started: Prep, Plan, and Research

Build your "Engagement Report

Tempting as it can be, don’t start shooting from the hip. Invest the hours with your team to do the research on your target accounts.


With what we call an Engagement Report, you need to build out a list of your target accounts and aggregate information from:

  • CRM Report
  • Marketing Automation
  • News and Triggers
  • Job Sites

It’s best to follow along. To do so, download your own template of the Engagement Report
 
 

Lead Scoring report

TAM, Interactions, Key Qualifiers & More

Using the account-based template as a guide, research and track the results for the various columns: 

  • Downloads
  • Interactions
  • Previous Opportunties 
  • LinkedIn hits (TAM)
  • Job Boards
  • Key Partners 
  • Key Qualifiers & Triggers

To expand on TAM in particular, LinkedIn is your friend here. Navigate to a company page and apply a search to estimate the total addressable market within an account. This is a bit easier to generalize when you’re selling an offering with a price tag based on headcount. For instance, FoxBound can understand relative deal opportunity based on the # of reps in an organization. 

Also, think through the key qualifying indicators of an account. Is there a friendly partner in the ecosystem? An incumbent ripe for replacement? A strategic initiative you’re poised to support? 

Casting the Nets

Being the first to engage key prospects with relevant information based on recent triggers makes you relevant, helpful, and trustworthy.

Account-Based Blog Graphic
However, it’s easy to spend too much time consuming information, leading to inaction and a case of paralysis by analysis.
 
So, put technology to work for you & put time back in your day. Here’s a few ways you can do so:
 
Done with the research work? Let’s keep moving. 

Campaign Creation with Sales Automation

Quick Intro to Sales Automation

If you’re not familiar with Sales Automation (also referred to as sales engagement) tools, it may make sense to take a step back and do some research before continuing. In short, Sales Automation tools allow sales reps to build campaigns consisting of templated & personalized emails, phone calls, and social steps. 

The fundamental value of sales automation stems from the ability to eliminate mundane tasks like copying & pasting emails, manually managing follow ups, limitations with scale, and tracking email KPI’s (open, clicks, replies).

In the framework below, we’ll illustrate how an AE or AE/BDR combo can work together to leverage Sales Automation to execute an account-based motion. 

And yes, FoxBound offers a sales automation + data platform that fully facilitates this workflow, but other tools can be used as well. This is by no-means a guide restricted to only our customers. 

Create Templates

Core to the concept of Sales Automation is the ability to create Templates – which are essentially just emails that you write once and then reuse & customize in a variety of different ways. Messaging and writing emails is a bit outside of the scope of this guide, but you’ll want the basics: 

  • Intro Email: make a great first impression with a thoughtful, buyer-centric message
  • Purpose Driven Emails: asking for a referral, to gather intelligence, build awareness, or earn a discovery call
  • Follow Up Emails: Can include quick, short emails, case studies, relevant resources, allude to gathered intel, qualifiers, etc

Outline & Create Campaigns

Hit multiple layers of an organization with different messaging that can (sometimes) be delivered from corresponding layers of your own org. This, when done properly, can hep you be more multithreaded and make sure you don’t get stuck too low on the totem pole with a block who won’t elevate you up the chain. 

As a rough draft, use the template to map out your account-based Campaign. 

ABS Sales Automation Campaign Planner

In your Sales Automation tool, put your outline into motion! If you don’t have one or it can’t fit this process, check out our free trial below to continue with the account-based sales guide. 

Account-Based Blog Graphic

Create and name individual campaigns (Pursuits in FoxBound terms) based on the segment & persona you’re targeting. 

Use your Templates or existing messaging to draft each step. If you’re using the FoxBound trial and want some examples or guides, try these guides. 

Account-Based Blog Graphic
Account-Based Blog Graphic

Once you’re all done, you’ll have tailored campaigns for each layer of an organization with room to personalize further with the help of the initial research you performed. 

In this example, there’s 5 Pursuits at the bottom of the page that map to our personas: 

  • Head of Sales 
  • Marketing 
  • Operations
  • Sales Management
  • Sale Reps

Optional: Schedule Recurring Accountability Meetings with Other Main Characters

Working with the supporting cast, here are a few ideas for purpose-driven meetings to drive your account-based program forward as a team. 

  • Kickoff Meeting: Especially if you’re working with a BDR, Account Manager, or any other teammate involved in engaging an organization with you, take 10-15 minutes to launch your campaigns together in a coordinated fashionn
  • Senior Leadership: Use 15-30 minute working sessions to draft messaging to be delivered from your senior leadership to the hard-to-reach CXO’s at your targets.  
  • SDR/BDR’s: Biweekly, set aside 15-30 minutes at least in order to review progress, traction, and strategize which steps should be executed next. As an AE, remember that sessions like these are not only helpful for you, but immensely helpful to. the growth of. developing SDR’s/BDR’s. In turn, a more developed rep can better support the overall effort. 
  • Marketing: Understand new content, company news, and product releases that can be relevant to clients. Depending on resources, you may also consider setting up field events, sending direct mail, or simply  request custom content catered to. your strategic targets.

Prospecting

Segmentation & Setup of Lists

Now that we have our messaging crafted for each persona, segmentation is the easy part. Within your prospecting tools, create Lists for each respective segment. We’ll use this to compartmentalize lists of prospects to make it easier to map them to our sales campaigns. 

FoxBound lists

There are many data tools to choose from and chances are, your organization has more than one. In this example, we’re going to use FoxBound DataScout to pull the right Contacts into Lists within the FoxBound app. 

For naming conventions, keep yourself organized by following a framework like “ABS: [target account(s)], [Industry], [Persona].” Make sure they have similar or parallel naming to the Pursuits/Campaigns you just created. It never hurts to be organized in account-based processes. 

List-Building with LinkedIn

Now, let’s scout for some Contacts to add to each of our Lists.

Make sure you have different searches for each layer of an organization. This is  a key nuance in staying organized in account-based sales. 

As an example, here’s how we can split up Personas using the “Job Title” field in Sales Nav:

  • Sales Rep: ((Sales OR Account) AND (Rep OR Executive)
  • Management: ((Sales OR “New Business”) AND (Manager OR Director))
  • Senior Leadership: ((Head OR VP OR Vice) AND (Sales OR “New Business”))
  • Operations: ((Manager OR Director OR VP) AND (“Sales Operations” OR “Sales Enablement” OR “Revenue Operations” OR Revenue))
For your example here, add at least 3-10 stakeholders for each Persona/List.
FoxBound Data Scout

Data Cleanup, Enrichment, Centralization in CRM

Raw data is nearly never perfect, so take a few minutes to “clean up” your newly added records before adding them to your CRM and to a Pursuit / Campaign.  For instance: 
 
  • Trim & Edit Names: JOHN BYERS  should be “John Byers.” Nancy Ann Wheeler should probably be “Nancy Wheeler.”
  • Titles: Trim it down from fancy titles like, Global Head of Business Development & Strategic Customer Acquisition to, “Head of Business Development.” 
  • Company: The INITECH, INC’s should display as, “Initech.” 
You get the picture 🙂

Prioritize & Execute

Associate Contacts to Corresponding Campaigns

Account-Based Blog Graphic

Make sure you have different searches for each layer of an organization. This is  a key nuance in staying organized in account-based sales. 

As an example, here’s how we can split up Personas using the “Job Title” field in Sales Nav:

  • Sales Rep: ((Sales OR Account) AND (Rep OR Executive)
  • Management: ((Sales OR “New Business”) AND (Manager OR Director))
  • Senior Leadership: ((Head OR VP OR Vice) AND (Sales OR “New Business”))
  • Operations: ((Manager OR Director OR VP) AND (“Sales Operations” OR “Sales Enablement” OR “Revenue Operations” OR Revenue))
For your example here, add at least 3-10 stakeholders for each Persona/List.

Personalize & Engage!

Now for the fun part! Assuming all Campaigns / Pursuits are prepped and ready for execution, this is a good time to set up a kickoff session with a BDR / other teammate. 

Account-Based Blog Graphic

With Contacts ready to be engaged with tailored outreach, here’s where all your prep work and research comes into shape. With your Sales Automation tool of choice, start personalizing and executing your account-based sales campaigns. 

 

Now the rest is up to you. Go get em. 

Happy Hunting! 🦊

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