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?

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