ABS stands for Always Be Selling – everyone knows that, right? After all, if you relax on your sales strategy for even a moment, your customers could forget you, your competition could gain an edge, and your business could fold completely. But, while you should continue to practice sales, you should also know that there is a lesser-known meaning of that business-related acronym: account-based selling.
Account-based selling or ABS is a sales strategy that targets specific customers (called accounts), learns about them in-depth and predicts which accounts will be most receptive to making purchases after which sales tactics. If you have mastered the art of Always Be Selling, it might be time for you to learn a little more about the other ABS.
What ABS Is
While business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses focus on selling to individual buyers, companies with a business-to-business (B2B) sales model sell to other businesses. Typically, these businesses are called “accounts.” Thus, account-based selling is essentially a strategy employed by B2Bs to improve revenues from their account-clients.
However, that’s not all ABS is. B2Cs can employ lead-based and contact-based approaches effectively with their individual consumer prospects, but B2Bs cannot as effectively utilize these techniques with their accounts, which require a different kind of attraction and attention to close successfully. ABS provides a highly personalized, high-touch marketing strategy that prioritizes high-value accounts and offers excellent returns.
To perform ABS effectively, you should understand the following steps:
- Research. You (or your sales leader) should know everything about the accounts and types of accounts you are targeting with sales. This should include your contacts within the account (which might be various), the size and location of the account, the account’s revenue and budget, etc.
- Engage. Using phone calls, email and in-person meetings, you should reach out continuously to your accounts – and to multiple contacts within those accounts – to fully engage prospects.
- Personalize. The heart of ABS is in its intensely personal approach, which is typically lacking from other B2B sales strategies. You should get to know your accounts on a personal level to drive sales.
- Monitor and measure. You (or your sales leader) should be tracking how often and how well the sales team is engaging with accounts. You can invest in an analytics tool to crunch the numbers for you.
When to Use ABS
As already established, B2Cs shouldn’t use ABS – there are better sales models available to facilitate selling to consumers. However, not all B2Bs are apt to find ABS perfect for accomplishing their sales goals, either. Because ABS requires high-level, multi-channel interactions, it is truly only ideal for targeting enterprise companies. These sorts of accounts offer dozens of contacts with varied identities, some of whom might respond to ABS techniques. Furthermore, larger businesses have higher budgets, meaning the greater time and energy demanded by ABS is more likely to see appropriate returns, whereas that investment is likely to be wasted on smaller consumer, startup or SMB accounts.
Additionally, you should hesitate to apply ABS techniques to prospects that aren’t in your target audience or otherwise have a low likelihood of converting. Again, ABS is resource-intensive, placing high demands on your sales team. Thus, if you can’t be relatively certain of a successful close – reducing as much risk as possible through extensive research and familiarity – ABS should not be your first and best choice.
How to Optimize ABS
In truth, it isn’t enough to focus on accounts only within sales. B2Bs should develop an “account-based everything” strategy, in which their sales, marketing, customer service, finance and other departments are all intent on personalization and engagement for different accounts. This ensures that all pieces of the business have hands in, working together to create an ideal experience for each account. Though ABS will always begin in sales – with sales leaders identifying opportunities – it should reach into every team, so sales, marketers and everyone else has all the necessary resources to ensure accounts get pulled in.
You should always be selling, but you should also make sure your sales team is selling using the best methods possible. When applied appropriately, ABS can introduce you to new business opportunities, improve prospect response rates, increase deal size, shorten sales cycles and increase revenue. It might be time for your B2B to try it out today.