Is Account-Based Social Selling Right For Your Team?

B2B marketing and sales leaders are abuzz about account-based everything. From account-based marketing to account-based sales development to account-based social selling (ABSS), the excitement is palpable.

But how do you press “pause” on the buzz and determine whether an account-based strategy is right for your social selling team? In this post, we’ll look at the telltale signs. As we’ll see, there are three scenarios where ABSS is appropriate for a sales team, and we’ll discuss some scenarios where it isn’t. But first, what is account-based social selling, anyway?

So, What’s Account-Based Social Selling (ABSS), Anyway?

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 other words, the marketing and sales organizations are trying to cast as wide of a net as possible.

Account-based marketing and sales is, in many ways, the opposite. Rather than saying, “I want as many leads as possible,” companies focus their marketing and sales resources on a targeted set of accounts. And they deliver highly targeted, highly personalized campaigns to those accounts. Typically, these accounts are extremely lucrative and are known to be a good fit for a company’s products and services.

In fact, studies have shown that companies that use account-based approaches have a 75% increase in close rates – compared to those that use more traditional approaches to demand gen.

So, what does this have to do with social selling? Account-based social selling is one way to approach account-based sales. It is when B2B sales reps use social networks to engage with people at their target accounts. They follow the company on LinkedIn and Twitter. They connect with a targeted list of potential customers across social networks. They share content that will be relevant to their target accounts…

You get the picture. In the next post, we’ll dig into the “how” of ABSS. In the meantime, let’s discuss how you know whether ABSS is right for you.

When Should You Use ABSS?

In short, account-based marketing and account-based sales are about focus. Account-based strategies require focus on a very narrow target audience. Here are three occasions when you should take an account-based approach to social selling.

1. When you are targeting a select number of accounts

Typically, with an account-based approach, your target accounts are quite large. They are the dream accounts that marketing and sales have their eyes on. For example, you might be a named account rep, who works exclusively with the Fortune 100. At any given time, you’re working a small number of accounts and can afford to dedicate your time to interacting with contacts at a handful of target companies.

2. When you are targeting a group of accounts with very similar characteristics

Perhaps your sales team is working with buyers in specific verticals. Or maybe they are focused on companies that have certain technologies already in place. Or perhaps they work with companies that belong to very specific niches. For example, let’s say that your team works with Financial Services companies that use a specific type of mobile banking technology. Most likely, you know who your buyers are, and account-based social selling is right for your team.

3. When your team needs to be more strategic on social

For newbies, social networking can be overwhelming. As a result, it’s likely that some of your sales reps are simply going through the motions of social selling. Perhaps your sales reps are posting content. They’re commenting on other people’s links. They’re growing their LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers. But they lack a sense of purpose. They don’t have an end goal in mind, and as a result, their pipeline isn’t growing.

If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider an account-based approach to social selling. Sit down with your sales reps. Have them create a list of 5-10 target accounts. Then, discuss ways in which they can research those accounts and engage with key stakeholders at their target companies. That way, their social actions will be less aimless and more purposeful.

The Bottom Line

An account-based approach to sales isn’t for everyone. If you have a sales team that sells to thousands of SMBs, ABSS is likely not your thing. If your social sellers are hyper focused and producing great results, once again, ABSS might not be for you.

But if your sales team is trying to attract specific accounts or if they seem to lack focus on social media, then, ABSS will be worth your while. In adopting this approach to sales, your reps can focus their time on the people and companies that matter most, and your team can land the accounts that they have been talking about for months.

Now, you just need to get started. In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at best practices for ABSS.

Want to Learn More About Social Selling?

In the meantime, flip through the Executive’s Guide to Social Selling Success.

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