4 Trends Driving Demand for Account-Based Sales Enablement
When you read the title of this blog, you may have scratched your head and thought, “Aren’t all deals account-based by definition?” That’s a mighty fine question. Sure, all deals are account-based, in that reps close accounts; they don’t close leads. However, not every sales organization takes an account-based approach to sales.
In traditional demand generation, marketers try to engage the largest number of potential buyers as possible. Marketers nurture those leads and pass them over to the sales reps, who try to close as many of those leads as possible. In an account-based approach to pipeline generation, that paradigm is inverted. Sales and marketing have a list of target accounts, and all their actions are focused on engaging stakeholders at those target accounts.
As you read this, account-based tactics are taking over sales and marketing. This is likely due to four emerging trends. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Trend #1: Diminishing Returns on Traditional Demand Generation
Traditional “inbound” demand generation works well if you have a large customer pool to choose from. You can afford to cast a wide net.
But for some companies, traditional demand generation is coming up short, especially when sales and marketing teams are working on large enterprise deals. Bigger deals require deeper knowledge of an account, buy-in from multiple stakeholders, and more personalized outreach. In short, with big accounts, you don’t have the time or energy to wait for the big fish to wander into your nets. You have to be more proactive.
Trend #2: The Expanding Buyer Committee
In every complex B2B deal, there are many stakeholders. You have the researcher, the decision-maker, the CFO, the procurement department, and so on, and so forth. According to the CEB, 5.4 decision-makers are involved in the average sales deal. (According to IDG, up to 17 people influence the typical enterprise purchase decision!) Each of these people has different motivations, different attitudes towards change, and different pain points.
To close these complex B2B deals, sales reps need great research skills and high levels of emotional intelligence. Reps need to understand the company and the relationships within the account. They need to research each stakeholder and understand how they are connected to the other stakeholders. Furthermore, they need to help build consensus among the stakeholders by sharing relevant content and having strategic conversations.
With that many stakeholders, sales reps can’t sit and pray that the stakeholders come to their website and fill out a form. They have to be more proactive.
Trend #3: Larger Deal Sizes with Account-Based Approaches
An account-based approach to sales, marketing, and sales enablement can deliver bigger deals. Demandbase found that the average contract value of targeted accounts was 40% higher for mid-market accounts and 35% higher for enterprise accounts.
In part, larger deals stem from a more focused and efficient approach to sales. But it’s also because sales reps are engaging more stakeholders and getting buy-in from a larger team. As a result, reps have the opportunity to deploy to more areas of the company. What’s more, when sales reps use account-based tactics, they tend to engage stakeholders who are higher up in the company and who have more buying influence, which leads to bigger deal sizes.
In a world where buyers actively try to avoid sales pitches, reps have had to change their approach to sales. Salespeople need to act like consultants who can add value and share expertise. And it’s hard to be a dedicated consultant to hundreds of pipeline opportunities at one time. That’s why many sales organizations are turning to account-based sales tactics.
If your organization is taking a more consultative approach to selling, keep in mind that your team needs a unique technology set to do its job effectively. For starters, account-based sales tools should provide reps with the latest insights about the target companies and stakeholders. For example, the platform should constantly search the web for insights about their target companies, and it should enable reps to track what their key stakeholders are saying on social media. On top of that, reps need access to insightful content, which will allow them to add value, share insights, and build consensus within the target organization.
Side note: To help sales reps embrace their new roles, we recently announced an account-based offering. You can see a feature list here.
Given these trends, it’s no surprise that account-based sales enablement has become a “must-have” in enterprise sales organizations. As the customers’ habits continually evolve, the sales organization needs to evolve, as well, and an account-based approach is the most obvious next step.