Quantifying Account-Based Engagement Efforts

Continuing with this week’s theme of account-based engagement (see here and here), there’s another element that needs more discussion: quantifying account-based engagement efforts. Let’s say you have accounts rated by tier with the ‘A’ accounts being best-fits, the ‘B’ accounts being the second tier, the ‘C’ accounts being the third tier, and so on. How do you decide how much effort to devote to each tier?

There are two common approaches:

Minutes-Based

  • Take the most common activities (call, initial email, email reply, demo, etc.) and allocate a number of minutes for each as a proxy for effort (e.g. 5 minutes for an email, 20 minutes for an email reply, 90 minutes for a demo including prep work, etc.)
  • Figure out the ideal mix of activities and the corresponding minutes per rep per week, assuming 40 hours:
    • 5 hours – general meetings, coaching, etc.
    • 25 hours – 50 Tier 1 accounts at 30 minutes each
    • 10 hours – 40 Tier 2 accounts at 15 minutes each
    • Total: 90 accounts engaged
  • Build a CRM report by activity type with a formula to multiply by the number of minutes allocated and then group by the account tier to see the results

Touches-Based

  • Take the most common touches (call, email, social media interaction, InMail message) and assume each is roughly the same amount of effort
  • Take the number of Tier 1 accounts and Tier 2 accounts and start with 2x the effort for Tier 1 accounts
  • Assign a required number of touches per Tier 1 account and per Tier 2 account each week (a touches quota)
  • Build a CRM report by activity type grouped by the account tier to ensure the efforts match the touches quota

Quantifying account-based engagement efforts takes work to setup and requires an on-going process. Every sales leader knows that more effort equals more results, and this strategy is excellent for more predictable revenue.

What else? What are some more ways to quantify account-based engagement efforts?

Standard Sales vs Account-Based Sales

With the basics of Account-Based Sales for More Predictable Revenue in place, next comes a deeper explanation as to how “standard sales” differs from account-based sales. First, let’s start with an example.

At Pardot, every August the new Inc. 5000 would come out and Account Executives (AEs) would would go through different relevant categories like software and claim “ownership” of any new accounts on the list that weren’t already in the CRM. Then, they’d go in to LinkedIn (or LinkedIn Sales Navigator) and find the right people based on their department and seniority level. Next, using a scraping tool like LeadIQ or Hunter, the names in LinkedIn would be turned into CRM leads with email addresses. Finally, the AEs would call and email the leads a few times, giving up quickly if there was no response.

This outbound approach, combined with following up to any inbound leads, represents how the majority of companies do standard sales. A few characteristics of standard sales:

  • Reps do both prospecting and selling (no distinguishing between SDRs and AEs)
  • Reaches out to any company that’s loosely relevant
  • Builds a list of two or three people per company
  • Sends an email or two personally and/or makes a phone call or two to each person on the list with generic messaging (most reps give up too early)
  • Treats all companies the same

Now, contrast that to the characteristics of account-based sales:

  • Prospects via SDRs and sells via AEs (specialization of skills)
  • Reaches out to accounts only if they fit the ideal customer profile
  • Looks for every relevant decision maker at the account and has them bucketed into a specific persona based on department and seniority level (e.g. marketing director)
  • Runs a coordinated engagement cadence that involves multiple people in the organization (e.g. the CEO reaching out to the CEO, the marketing director to the marketing director) with persona-based messaging that’s relevant and timely with 10+ touches per contact over time
  • Treats each account uniquely using a system that manages Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 accounts via a predictive marketing platform (e.g. Tier 1 accounts get 120 minutes of effort per month, Tier 2 accounts get 30 minutes of effort per month, etc.)

Standard sales is more “spray and pray” while account-based sales is targeted and deep.

Entrepreneurs would do well to initiate an internal shift to account-based sales and deliver more predictable revenue.

What else? What are some more thoughts on standard sales vs account-based sales?

Account-Based Sales for More Predictable Revenue

With Rainmaker 2017 only a few days away and Revenue Summit 2017 the following week, the account-based sales and marketing conference season is in full force. Targeting specific accounts as a sales strategy has been around for decades. With more focus on high quality customers (larger deal size, shorter sales cycle, better lifetime value), increased pressure on sales and marketing to grow revenue faster, and the advent of high quality sales engagement platformsaccount-based marketing platforms, and account-based intelligence platforms, account-based sales has become more top-of-mind. In fact, when you look at the most common sales rep job title — account executive — the word “account” is front and center.

MatterMark recently published Introducing Account-Based Sales Into Your Process – The Four-Step Framework to help companies get started with account-based sales. Here are the four steps:

  1. Research your current customers – Analyze the existing customers to find patterns like industry, size, geography, tech stack, social presence, and more.
  2. Build your target list – Using the signals from your current customers, build a list of lookalike/net-new accounts that match the most important attributes.
  3. Identify prospects – With the target accounts, use LinkedIn to find the right people in the accounts based on department and seniority level.
  4. Reach out – Run a process to engage via email, phone, social, and more (too many sales people give up after three or four tries — go deep and be pleasantly persistent).

Think accounts, not individual contacts. Build an account-based sales program for a more predictable sales engine.

What else? What are some more ideas around account-based sales?

The Coaching Habit ‒ 7 Questions to Ask

Last month I picked up the book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier and I’ve enjoyed the author’s ideas. Generally, the pitch is that coaching should be simple and question-oriented: spend more time listening and less time talking (I’m a fan of that!). There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth ‒ we need to listen twice as much as we talk.

Here are the seven questions to ask during each coaching session:

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. And what else?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. How can I help?
  6. If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  7. What was most useful for you?

Combine The Coaching Habit philosophy with a 1:1 agile performance management system like WideAngle and you’ll be in the top quartile of leaders.

7 Daily Items in the Spirit of Tools of Titans

Continuing with the previous post Video of the Week: Tim Ferris – Tools of Titans, I’m halfway through the Tools of Titans book and it’s definitely not what I expected. The author interviews dozens of people and provides a few ideas from each based on a wide range of topics from workouts to psychedelics to leadership (very wide ranging!).

Instead of “Tools of Titans”, I’d characterize it as “lifehacks from high achievers.” In that spirit, here are seven things I do daily:

  1. Write a simple blog post for 30 minutes (this!)
  2. Read a book for 30 minutes (the Kindle Paperwhite is amazing)
  3. Ensure Inbox Zero (see also Getting Things Done)
  4. Run a daily check-in (get everyone aligned)
  5. Stretch for 10 minutes (things in motion stay in motion)
  6. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, whenever possible
  7. Do 50 curl ups (great for minimizing back pain)

These are the seven “lifehacks” that are a key part of my daily rhythm. Figure out what works for you and build a rhythm around it.

What else? What are some of your daily items?

Quick Notes on Fast-Growing SaaS Startup Intercom

Intercom is a fast-growing SaaS startup that provides customer communication software for doing live chat, in-app customer messages, email triggers, helpdesk support, and knowledge base content. Their CEO recently published an interesting blog post titled Vanity metrics, the future, and 100,000 thank yous with a number of interesting metrics.

Here are a few notes on the blog post and Intercom:

  • Started in 2011 (source)
  • Took four months to raise $500k (source)
  • Raised $1M angel round in 2012 (source)
  • Raised $6M Series A in June 2013 (source)
  • Raised $23M Series B 30 months after starting the business (source)
  • 7,000 paying customers after four years (source)
  • 50% of the 280 employees are in product and engineering as of last year (source)
  • Raised $35M Series C four years to the day they started the company (source)
  • Raised $50M Series C-1 in mid 2016 for a total of $116M (source)
  • Took two years to hit $1M in annual recurring revenue
  • 300+ employees today
  • 100,000 monthly active users
  • 400,000,000 customer conversations per month
  • Educate, the knowledge base product, is at $1.5M ARR
  • 17,000 companies that are paying customers
  • Grew from $1-50M in ARR in three years ($2,941 average revenue per year per customer)
  • Revenue run rate at end of year:
    • 2013 – $1M
    • 2014 – $7M
    • 2015 – $22M
    • 2016 – $50M
  • 2016 operating margin of -36%

Impressive metrics all around and easily one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the world. Congrats to Intercom on reimagining customer communication for the modern business and building an incredible company.

SalesLoft Rainmaker 2017

Next week SalesLoft puts on their excellent Rainmaker conference in Atlanta at the Loews Hotel. After raising $15 million, launching major new product features, and announcing key new leaders, SalesLoft’s Rainmaker conference is set to bring the sales engagement community together for three days of learning, sharing, and connecting.

A few event highlights:

  • 45 speakers
  • 700 attendees
  • 25 breakout sessions
  • 1 awesome community

Interested in sales engagement or SalesLoft? Check out Rainmaker 2017 next week in Atlanta.