A B2B Marketer’s Guide to Account-Based Sales Development (ABSD)

Account-based sales development quote

Account-based marketing (ABM) comes with some very welcome changes for sales development teams. It allows marketing and sales to speak the the same language — the language of accounts, not leads — and focus on the same goals.

But those benefits also require sales to trust marketing, something they may be wary to do if marketing was previously sending them leads of questionable quality.

Let’s take a look at how account based sales development, or ABSD, works and how you can set your SDR/BDR team up for success.

Why Coaching is Key for Account-Based Sales Development

Even the most seasoned sales development professionals will need coaching to succeed with an account-based approach. There are bound to be some growing pains when you tell someone to fundamentally rethink the way they’re doing their job, and ABM does just that.

In early 2017, our SDR team was performing well with a combination of traditional prospecting and account-based sales development. However, we knew switching to an entirely account-first approach to sales development would help fill our pipeline with more qualified accounts who were in-market for our solution.

That’s where coaching comes in. Around that time, former Terminus SDR Morgan Ingram was promoted to Sales Development Manager. It’s his job to make sure our SDRs are orchestrating all the steps of our ABM campaign as planned, but simply going through the motions is not enough.

Morgan focuses on coaching to help each sales development rep improve upon their weak spots and capitalize on their strengths. He also emphasizes the importance of keeping a steady mindset as an SDR.

“Don’t let your emotions get the best of you because you won’t get the results that you want,” he explains. Even the best sales development reps have bad weeks, but when you let it get you down, you run the risk of perpetuating that negativity and continuing to underperform. “That’s why it’s important to have a steady mindset,” Morgan says.

Video Interview: Account-Based Marketing for Sales Development“You have to be coachable. I didn’t know anything about tech when I first got to Terminus, and I definitely didn’t know anything about sales development. I couldn’t just come in here and think I’m going to absolutely blow it out of the water and I don’t need to listen to anyone. I had to learn from people who are clearly in the positions that they have for a reason so that I was able to accelerate my growth as an SDR, personally and professionally, and was able to hit my goals.”

Morgan Ingram, Sales Development Manager at Terminus

According to Morgan, top-performing SDRs are:

Consistent. It’s critical to be consistent when reaching out to prospects and following up with them. Sales engagement tools like SalesLoft, which our SDR team uses, help with this because they allow reps to see which contacts and which accounts require outreach at any given time.

Well-Researched. One benefit of ABM is that SDRs already know the target accounts they’re engaging fit your ideal customer profile, which gives them a basic understanding of the companies right off the bat. However, that information alone is not enough to develop personalized messaging. Excellent SDRs will get to know each target account’s org structure, client base, and pain points to make a meaningful connection between your solution and your dream accounts’ challenges and priorities.

Methodical. Consider having your reps block off time on their calendars to focus on specific tasks. For example, from 2 to 3 p.m. every day, they might focus on adding more contacts to their target accounts. From 3 to 4 p.m., they could work on creating personalized videos.

Genuine. Great SDRs are personable and demonstrate genuine concern about their prospects’ concerns and challenges. The way they do this can vary. Some reps are pros at connecting through video while others are awesome at personalizing emails. The bottom line is to encourage your SDRs to let their personalities shine through in their outreach. People want to work with real people — and canned emails with no personality will undoubtedly get sent to the trash.

How Marketing Teams Can Enable ABSD

In addition to sales coaching, consider setting up office hours and other training opportunities for your sales development team. At Terminus, we hold weekly office hours where our SDRs can meet with our Director of Account-Based Marketing, Stephanie Kelly, to pick her brain about ABM and get tactical advice for engaging with target accounts.

Depending on your buyer personas, you may want to set up office hours with both a marketer and other employees at your company. For example, if you sell to human resources professionals, ask your HR manager to check in with your SDRs once a week and answer any questions they have.

Sales development is all about personalization, education, awareness, and helping prospects solve their problems Stephanie Kelly ABM Terminuswith your solution. At office hours, I help SDRs look at target accounts and figure out what their problems are, what they’re passionate about, what their businesses do, and who they sell to. Together, we do research to help us understand accounts and individual buyers and pull out relevant information that will help our SDRs personalize the buying experience.

Stephanie Kelly, Director of Account-Based Marketing at Terminus

Orchestrate Account-Based Interactions

Sales leadership should give their input on the tactics, activities, and messaging your sales development team uses, but in the end, it’s up to marketing to orchestrate every account-based campaign.

To help you map out your campaign, we created the ABM Campaign Orchestration Template. This Google Sheets document will give you a framework for mapping out every step of your next account-based campaign. Then, you can share the finished roadmap with your entire organization — from SDRs to your executive team — so they have insight into exactly what tactics and activities are happening at any given time. Check it out.