Example Account-Based Sales and Marketing Program

Terminus put on an excellent FlipMyFunnel class today. One element of the event was walking through an account-based sales and marketing program. Let’s take a look at their example:

Marketing Touch Points

  • Pre-cadence: Terminus Ads
  • During cadence: LinkedIn and Facebook retargeting to known contacts
  • After 1st 8 days: Direct mail to unresponsive accounts

Sales Touch Points

  • Day 1: Personalized video email (via Vidyard integration in SalesLoft)
  • Day 2: Email
  • Day 4: LinkedIn (Attempt to connect)
  • Day 6: InMail
  • Day 7: Video email (From different team member)
  • Day 8: Call, no VM
  • Day 8: Direct mail
  • Day 13: Call, LVM about the package
  • Day 13: Email about the package
  • Day 15: Video email
  • Day 16: Call, no VM
  • Day 20: Breakup video email

Most companies focus on making a certain number of calls and emails per day that ends up being broad and shallow. Modern customer acquisition teams run detailed outbound account-based sales and marketing program against their best-fit accounts using account-based intelligence.

Thanks to Terminus and the FlipMyFunnel team for putting on the event and sharing the excellent ideas.

What else? What are some more components of an effective account-based sales and marketing program?

Customer Acquisition As the #1 Challenge

As the cost to build an app has gone down over the last 10 years due to open source and cloud computing, the number of apps as grown. Now, there are dozens of apps that do the same thing in every category imaginable. The result: customer acquisition is the number one challenge with so much noise in the market. And, it’s only going to get more challenging.

Here are four things to work on to build a customer acquisition machine:

  1. Community – Work towards 1,000 true fans. Start small. Find the first 10 that care. Then the first 100. Nurture the community and grow it over time.
  2. Content – Write original content. Make a statement. Have a strong opinion. Put new ideas out there. Find a rhythm.
  3. Engage – Connect with people. Target best-fit accounts. Run a process. Follow the account-based engagement best practices.
  4. Experiment – Follow the Traction book. Constantly experiment. Try new ideas like micro apps and social selling.

Customer acquisition is the most difficult challenge required for startups to succeed. Invest in it early and build the expertise over time.

What else? What are some more ways to build a customer acquisition machine?

The Science of Enterprise Software Sales

Jyoti Bansal, founder and long-time CEO of AppDynamics (see S-1 IPO notes) that was recently acquired by Cisco for $3.4 billion, has an excellent blog post up titled The Science of Enterprise Software Sales — My Lessons from AppDynamics. Here are a few notes from the post:

  1. Your Path to $100 Million (or $1 Billion) Sales
    • Need to get to $100M of revenue growing fast than 40% a year to get a $1B valuation
    • Calculate the number of customers required for $100M in revenue based on average revenue per customer (e.g. 5,000 customers paying $20K/year)
  2. The Sales Capacity Model
    • Four key variables:
      1. Number of “ramped” sales reps.
      2. Productivity of each rep.
      3. Churn in ramped sales reps.
      4. Time to ramp a newly hired sales rep.
    • Track these variables and build a financial model
  3. The Demand Generation Model
    • Three key variables:
      1. Average deal size
      2. Deal close rate
      3. Average sales cycle
    • Track these variables and build a demand generation model
  4. The Sales Process
    • Three main objectives:
      1. Eliminate opportunities that aren’t well qualified.
      2. Justify the business case for your solution.
      3. Eliminate surprises.
  5. The Growth Constraints
    • Only a few constraints:
      1. Not enough product demand to achieve a higher growth rate
      2. Can’t compete effectively on product/pricings, etc.
      3. Need more cash than investors are willing to spend
      4. Can’t recruit, train, and absorb new people fast enough

Want to learn more? Go read The Science of Enterprise Software Sales — My Lessons from AppDynamics.

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:


  • 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


  • 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?

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.