Account based prospecting – The past, present and the future

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Slintel Image


Last updated April 7, 2018

Account based everything (marketing / prospecting / sales / engagement ) is the buzz now. Prospecting that used to be traditionally lead based has now moved to an account based approach. Account based prospecting involves the process of identifying triggers in an account that makes the prospecting worthwhile (i.e) identifying which accounts have a good chance of buying your product and reaching out to them.

Often account based prospecting helps direct your resources better (high value accounts with a propensity to buy) and may also improve your response rates as you incorporate account level data (information from industry events, news articles , company reports etc) in your messaging. However in sales, as we have seen time and again, established methodologies get outdated fairly quickly. The concept of account based selling works well when a small set of prospectors are using it. When the broader market adopts the approach you will again need to differentiate and stand out to get through to the buyer.

For instance, look at how prospecting has evolved over the past few years . Cold calling used to be the go to approach in the 80s, but did not yield in the same results in digital world. In the 90s and early 00s, emailing took center stage as it seemed to be a relatively non-intrusive way in bringing your product in front of the buyers. This too changed pretty quickly as it gained mass market adoption. Soon cold mailing would be equated to spam. Sales reps had to incorporate social into their strategy as buyers spent a considerable amount of time on Linked-in and Twitter everyday. With the number of cold reach outs through multiple channels increasing, content and timing became as important, and account based selling became the new fad.

However the success that companies are seeing with account based selling may not last long as it becomes pervasive, so it may be time to think on how you can engage prospects differently from your competition. When the mass market adopts a particular strategy, it is time to think one step ahead and move on the next.

Enter persona based selling. Persona based selling involves identifying personality traits, buying behavior and preferences to be able to customize messaging at an individual level and improve response rates. Persona based selling coupled with account based selling can help with targeted content at both an account and individual level. Your message is going to be different for every individual in an account. Machine learning will also play an important role over time as you optimize on content by understanding and tracking how buyers respond or react to every message they receive.

Portals like Netflix , YouTube , FB have already adopted machine learning in their sales mix. Products are pushed in front of you based on your browsing and buying behavior. It won’t be long before machine learning paves its way into the prospecting world and makes the outreach process much more efficient.