Jamie is the CEO of Sales For Life, which is the de-facto standard in modernizing account-based sales motion. The company specializes in social or digital selling. It evaluates how you sell today and infuses modern digital sales activities into your process.
Account-based selling refers to focusing on a set number of accounts, whether it’s organized by territory or strategic value. Instead of relying on inbound leads or channel leads, you must go outbound.
Jamie named his book Spear Selling based on a sales analogy of fishing: inbound efforts are a little like fishing with a net because you can’t choose the fish that land in your net. When you fish with a spear, you swim in the deep water and choose the whales you’re going to hunt.
Typically, companies focus on account-based motion because they need to increase their average annual contract value (ACV) or lifetime value (LTV).
Adopting an account-based approach
Companies often get the very first step wrong, which is account selection. Many companies use what Jamie calls wallet-share based thinking. When he was working with a company in the health and wellness space, an account exec pointed to Peloton as a company he was focused on connecting with. When questioned, the AE mentioned that one of the company leaders was a bike enthusiast who thought it might be a good fit.
The truth is that the health company has no more strategic connection to Peloton than its competitors do. In fact, if they went through the data of relationships, they might discover that the competitors have greater social proximity to the account. That means you may devote 8 months trying to win this account to find that there’s a hurdle you didn’t account for.
Getting the account selection process right is half the equation.
Companies that ask their sales professionals to build a list of accounts will likely find that they stack ranked companies based on revenue, number of employees, and market share potential. They didn’t think about the fact that people buy from people and relationships matter.
Sales is a game of relationships. If you could reverse-engineer your existing advocates and customers and identify which accounts have the highest social proximity, you’ll have an advantage that your competitors can’t take from you.
A centralized model looks at the equation and asks how certain sales resources like inside sales, BDRs, SDRs, and LDRs can mine the total addressable market. It maps green-flag accounts based on relationships, opportunities, and strengths. They could be referrals, partners to your existing customers, or others you’re connected to. Red-flag accounts are those where your competitors have relationships, strengths, and opportunities.
The decentralized model seeks to identify those accounts that a company already has connections to. The idea is that the company can activate those accounts faster than the competitors can.
Companies might go with the centralized model because it uses the $20-an-hour inside sellers to do the work instead of the more-expensive AEs. They might choose the decentralized model because they want everyone in the field to be able to unearth the total addressable market of their area. Each person is CEO of his own territory.
Account selection is a skill that everyone needs to master.
Modern digital sellers
The modern digital seller selects accounts based on relationships or social proximity and then plans those accounts using four pillars.
- Competitive Intelligence
These sellers build a war room or a simple one-page document that outlines the compelling stories that they can share with their audiences. When they target the accounts, they’ll use digital technology like video or LinkedIn to share insights and monitor buying engagement.
Use account segmentation to think about how much time you’ll spend on every account. Apply Pareto’s Law realizing that you’ll spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of your accounts which will yield 80 percent of your return. You won’t spend the same amount of time on every account.
These sales concepts have existed forever, but you’ll accelerate your momentum because digital technology allows you to identify who cares, who you should focus on, and how you can move the deal through the cycle more quickly.
Social selling includes elements like LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook, but those aren’t the only elements. Modern digital sellers use any available technology to aid in the sales process.
Companies that engage in digital account-based selling might go through the following steps:
- Map the total addressable market.
- Map the accounts that exist within each vertical.
- Which accounts do we not have but have open opportunities?
- Which accounts have we never spoken to?
- Of those companies we’ve never spoken to, where do we have a competitive advantage like a trigger or a referral?
If they use tools like LinkedIn to map the social networks of their customer base, they can determine whether anyone knows someone at those companies. Together with marketing, the account executives can storyboard to create a series of sales plays, which might include social media or digital tools.
They can use LinkedIn to communicate with key executives and invite them to an event because they know that conversion is twice as high with physical meetings as with virtual ones. They are using digital tools to bring customers into the analog world.
Sales plays are no different than football plays. The play seeks to achieve a certain result. The seller needs a first-down. Digital sellers might use video, emails, phone calls and other tools to tell the story of them versus their competitors.
Your goal at an account is to activate the account. The activation cycle is the number of plays that you’ll run against that account. In that time, you’ll either qualify them or replace them. You cannot call into this account forever.
The best account-based teams have a defined activation cycle. Let’s assume it’s 90 days. If you don’t activate within 90 days, you’ll replace it with an account that has a great relationship opportunity.
Sales plays exist inside that cycle. You might have three to eight different stories you tell along that 90-day journey. Those sales plays or touchpoints are organized as cadences and sequences.
If you want to win the biggest and best accounts in the world, most companies aren’t coming inbound. You have to tell compelling stories to push them off their status quo.
Build a series
Once you’ve identified your targets, you must build a series of plays and stories that make the person actually care.
- What are three to eight different things they want to know about?
- Do they want to know about market trends?
- Do they want to see a real-life video of customer experience?
- Will they want to know where they stand compared to their competitors?
What does the future hold for your customer? Think about the customer and develop a series of stories before you start hammering away at the phone. #StorySelling
Get started using all of the available tools. Jamie calls LinkedIn Sales Navigator one of his favorite. There are 500 million people on that platform. He calls it the world’s largest party.
“TSE 1176: Best Practices For The Modern, Social Sellers” episode resources
Grab a copy of Jamie’s book, Spear Selling.
If you’re a sales rep looking to hone your craft and learn from the top 1% of sellers, make plans to attend the Sales Success Summit in Austin, Tx, October 14-15. Scheduled on a Monday and Tuesday to limit the impact to the sales week, the Sales Success Summit connects sellers with top-level performers who have appeared on the podcast. Visit Top1Summit.com to learn more and register!
You can also connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or try our first module of TSE Certified Sales Training Program for free. This episode has been made possible with the help of TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a training course designed to help sellers in improving their performance. We want you guys to go out each and every single day to find more ideal customers and do big things.
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