Account-based marketing (ABM) is all the hype for B2B companies, and rightfully so. ABM is a strategy, not a specific tool — but technology has made it easy to identify, prioritize, target, and engage your best-fit target accounts, ultimately increasing revenue and customer retention. At the heart of any successful ABM program is alignment between sales and marketing, which is where sales development comes into play.
Sales development serves as a bridge between marketing and sales, effectively making a sales development representative the glue that holds ABM intact. Without an effective and well-aligned sales development team, alignment between sales and marketing is incredibly difficult, making implementing an ABM strategy virtually impossible.
If you lead an SDR team that’s implementing ABM or considering it for the future, use the following tips to build and empower account-based sales development.
It Starts with Research and Personalization
You’ve heard it before: buyers are being inundated with sales outreach, sometimes receiving upwards of 20 emails a day from different companies asking for their time and ultimately their money. Most SDRs will take the time to personalize the subject and first line or so of an email, but for an account-based SDR to stand out, he or she needs to take a multichannel, ultra-personalized approach.
Using resources like LinkedIn and Twitter, SDRs should start by identifying personas within target accounts who are likely to be their ideal buyers. Make sure your team is aligned with marketing on the buyer personas you’re trying to engage.
Next, the SDRs should develop compelling messages that can cut through the noise and resonate with each prospect on a personal level. Delivering a compelling message requires a fair amount of research, both at the company and individual buyer level. If you’re looking to empower an account-based sales development team, I highly encourage a reasonable activity quota to incentivize the right behavior and manage expectations.
While sales development can be perceived as a game of numbers (i.e., how much outreach does it take to generate a quality meeting for sales?), a lower volume, highly targeted approach to messaging is what it takes to be successful with ABM. This highly targeted messaging drives better engagement and, as a result, more pipeline and revenue and a higher quality customer relationship.
Leverage Account-Based Insights and Technology
It’s an account-based SDR’s job to be a bridge between marketing and sales. It’s an account-based marketer’s job to identify target accounts and support sales development efforts with marketing tactics.
To do this well, SDRs must be able to turn data into action.
Fit Data: Who Are You Going After?
Ideally, target account identification should be done using fit data. By leveraging technology like EverString to identify the best-fit accounts within your organization’s ideal customer profile (ICP), you’re empowering your sales and marketing teams to focus their time and efforts in the right place.
Intent and Engagement Data: How Do You Prioritize Outreach?
A well-established target account list can point the SDR in the right direction. It is then the SDR’s responsibility to prioritize these accounts and engage the right people to create quality opportunities for sales. This is where intent and engagement data come in.
Our team at Terminus uses Bombora intent data to see which of our accounts are showing intent to buy a tool like Terminus. We also use engagement data from Terminus itself to alert us to accounts that are engaging with our content. Because this data is aggregated at an account level, we can see engagement from accounts and individuals that have never filled out a form or otherwise identified themselves on our website, which helps us reach out sooner than we would be able to with just the data from our marketing automation platform.
We have several different reports within Salesforce that allows us to take action on this data. These reports show us:
- Which of our accounts are demonstrating intent.
- Which keywords they’re showing intent for (i.e., have they been researching us, our competitors, or other key topics?)
- Their EverString fit score.
- Their target account tier.
- The date they last visited our website.
- The date they last showed surging engagement with our website (i.e., were they recently more engaged than usual?)
- Firmographic data.
Prioritizing accounts actively searching for your solution, engaging with your website and content, or even looking into your competition, is exponentially more effective in building high-quality pipeline in comparison to volume outreach.
It’s incredibly important for SDRs to take a multi-channel approach and develop highly personalized messaging. One way my team makes sure our messaging is always personalized is by drilling into the account’s engagement data. We use Terminus Sales Insights to push engagement data into Salesforce, which allows us to see which webpages and topics the accounts are most interested in.
There are plenty of technologies out there to facilitate compelling outreach through each channel, including email engagement tools like SalesLoft, direct mail vendors, and social media engagement tools.
It’s up to the SDR to work with marketing on fit, intent, and engagement, and then utilize the tools provided to them to create even more engagement and set meetings with target accounts.
Never Become Complacent as an SDR
While a sales development rep’s job is paramount to the success of a company, the repetitive nature of the role can prove challenging for even the most engaged and enthusiastic SDRs.
To be a successful SDR, it is of the uttermost importance to challenge yourself and grow your skill set every day to avoid becoming complacent in the role.
A channel that may drive success for an SDR one month may run dry the next. Phone conversations may take unscripted turns as a market evolves and new objections come into play. SDRs need to allocate time every day to stay up-to-date on the market and constantly try new tactics — for example, making personalized outreach videos, changing a call script around, and continuously familiarizing themselves with their product and their competitors.
SDRs who challenges themselves every day will not only be successful in the role, they will set themselves up for success in any future position as well.
Account-based marketing is here to stay. As teams roll out ABM programs, the companies that are able to successfully align sales and marketing will find the most success. An effective sales development team is prerequisite to ABM success.
As an SDR who went through the transition from a lead-based marketing model to an ABM model, I can speak first-hand of the success I’ve enjoyed from a data-driven, personalized approach to account-based marketing.