We know that specialization of roles is the key to sustainable sales programs, but how does it work in an account-based situation? Let’s find out more.Companies in the earliest stages of growth should make creating specialized sales roles (AE and SDR) a priority. It’s the most effective way to achieve sustainable sales results rather than the inconsistency you get when one or two salespeople handle full-cycle sales.
In account-based sales, specialization is still vital. You must assign the right people to the right sales actions as you engage your target accounts. It affects reps’ abilities to manage their workload and continuously make impactful contributions to results.
Specialization also allows you to play to your sales team’s greatest strengths. Account-based selling tactics emphasize relationship development and improvisation, skills that tend to be stronger in one role than others.
Here’s how to best leverage the different roles in your demand program for account-based sales.
Most of the time, account-based selling is better handled by AE-type reps. This is because they are:
- More tenured in the industry and at your organization, and more familiar with your products
- More familiar with target organization structures and relationships
- Confident and experienced enough to go ‘off-book’ with communications to hyper-personalize when necessary
These characteristics make AEs particularly well-equipped for the “slow burn” nature of building a network of relationships within target accounts (which tend to be larger, more complex organizations).
Assigning a volume of accounts should always be weighted against a rep’s productivity. However, you could also look at assigning the number of accounts on an individual level. For example, if a rep has a great talent for email communications and getting cold email responses, maybe they could handle a bit more than their other colleagues. Generally, though, somewhere around 40 assigned accounts is a good starting point for account-based practices.
AEs need to be clear that any ‘outbound prospecting’ they do should be limited to their pool of target accounts. Otherwise, they’re handling pipeline and qualified records handed over by your SDRs. This helps you AEs contain their workload and make their actions as meaningful as possible.
Outbound prospecting to high-value targets (HVTs) should include the complete task list:
- Researching new points of contact
- Cold engagement
- Networking actions
- Intro calls
- Qualification calls
It also needs to be super clear what ‘decay’ looks like in their target account list. For example, if the AE researches four prospects at a named account and gets rejected by each contact, they need to be prepared to evaluate whether their account is “tapped out.” This evaluation will point them in the right direction for their next action:
- Trying to find more “front doors” by researching additional contacts and continuing to work the account.
- Retiring the account from the active target list and replacing it with a new one (If a rep can handle 40 targets, they should always be working 40 targets. Don’t let their list shrink over time due to positive or negative outcomes).
- Disqualifying the account entirely based on the objections that came from their known points of contact. For example, if there is genuinely no use case, there’s no point in trying to find other prospects in the target organization.
You might be wondering, “If the AEs are doing all that, what are the SDRs doing?” The answer is “programmatic” outbound. This includes continuous market research, working from data vendor lists and known network contacts, and responding to inbound activity.
You must prioritize your SDRs’ work within your target accounts so that they’re always working on the most meaningful actions. An SDR’s job is to serve up the qualified leads to the AEs and ensure the pipeline has a pulse while the AEs manage the “slow burn,” intensive account-based work.
Finally, your marketing team has a vital role in your account-based selling program.
Marketing’s job is to enable your AE and SDR teams, launching broader lead generation campaigns for SDRs to generate inquiries, as well as enabling AEs with the hyper-personalized content, use cases, etc. that they need to get through to their HVTs.
Specialization for success
In account-based sales, you set yourself up for success by creating a system of specialization where everyone knows their role.
Remember that 40 assigned accounts tend to be a good number to start with and establish a benchmark.
Are you developing a growth plan for your sales and demand generation program? SalesWorks offers consulting services focusing on sales process design and organizational alignment that are ideal for growing companies. Visit our website or meet with a SalesWorks consultant to learn more. re…