Modern Selling - What Does the Buyer of 2018 Want? | Punch! ABM

The Art of the Modern Sale: 5 Ways to Delight the Buyer of 2019

In 2018 we saw the continuation of an evolving B2B environment, buyers continue to change and take ownership of the way that they seek and purchase solutions to their problems! What worked 15, 10, or even 5 years ago is not going to get you anywhere today. Traditional sales methods and techniques simply don’t cut it with the savvy, informed modern buyer.

If you want to avoid the same fate as the dinosaurs – check out the five ways that you can engage in modern selling and make sure that your sales strategy transforms into a customer centric experience that will thrive in 2019!

1) Help Them Educate Themselves

Your modern buyer loves to do hands on research around their own business challenges; to find a solution before they engage with a salesperson. Research shows that at least 47% of buyers looked at between three and five pieces of content before choosing to engage with a sales rep, and that 51% of buyers actually rely on content to inform their buying decisions. (2016 Demand Gen report)

So modern selling has to involve having readily available content for your future customers that supports and educates during their buying journey. This means that your content needs to address the different questions that arise at the different stages of the buying journey. But what does it mean to really support your future customers? You need to be able to answer their business challenges. And as the expert, highlight challenges that have potentially been overlooked. It goes without saying that successfully doing this requires a huge commitment to being customer centric, and taking the time to know exactly what value means for your customers.

It starts to make sense that content marketing has sky rocketed across the board to provide the value that modern buyers are actively looking for! The problem is that in the mad rush to produce content, quality is being sacrificed, and with it, value to your customers. On average, 70% of the content produced by a business never makes its way into the hands of the future customer! That just screams wasted budget, time, and opportunity.

You need this content available, but just as importantly you have to put the effort in to make it truly valuable! So if you don’t already have it, consider putting in place a system as to where your sales team are aligned and communicating regularly with marketing; to create content that reflects the evolving needs discovered through your sales conversations.

Sales and marketing alignment and making sure you have the content that your future customers care about is one of the initial stages of any successful ABM campaign, which is one of the reasons why ABM is sweeping the floor with traditional marketing!

2) Be Available On-Demand

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an on-demand society. Whether it’s TV and takeaways, online shopping or music, you’re used to having what you want, when you want it. Naturally, your future customers are the same! So why would your future customers be happy to wait days or hours for a response or even an answer to their questions? They aren’t! And you can bet that your competition is just around the corner, available on-demand.

A study by Dr James Oldroyd into lead responses found that the speed with which you reply to conversations with future customers drastically effects the outcome. Replying within 5 minutes of an enquiry makes your chances of reaching them 100 times greater when compared to replying after 30 minutes. And, the odds of the conversations started within 5 minutes turning into a sales opportunity are also 21 times more likely.

This ties in very closely with why you need to have the content your future customers’ want, ready to go when they need it. It’s all about showing how much you care and nothing says you don’t care more than slow responses!

Want to be quicker? Use chatbots on your website, invest in great supportive and educational content, or simply ensure your phones are always answered quickly. People buy from the people that they think like them, so start proving that your future customers are at the top of your priority list with timely responses!

3) Give Insights, Not Just Information

It’s easier than ever for your future customers to access information around their business challenges, and the solutions to overcome them. Previously, if they couldn’t find a solution through a referral from a personal contact, they would really have no option but to speak to a salesperson to guide them through their buying journey.

Now every future customer has a world of information at their fingertips, and they’re definitely doing the research they need to independently! 94% of B2B buyers do online research before making a purchasing decision. (Accenture 2014) So naturally, what your future customers need from a salesperson now has changed; you need to provide more than information and cold sales, you need to provide relationships and insights that add value, and build trust.

They don’t need to know what the product does, you should instead focus on highlighting how it eases or solves their problems, or even achieves their specific goals. Once again, the key to modern selling and success in 2019 is to understand that today’s buying journey is buyer-driven or customer centric. Your role is to get creative on how you can support and educate them during the process!

4) Listen and Respond

We’re all familiar with the old-fashioned stereotype of a typical salesperson; the smooth talking individual who’ll do anything to get a sale, regardless or not of whether it’s the best thing for the future customer. Today, that approach isn’t welcome, and it just won’t work.

As you have just found out, the modern buyer is already informed and will likely know all about what the product can do already. CEB’s research found that 57% of a purchase decision is complete before a customer even reaches out to you. So the role of the modern salesperson is now focused on listening to the needs of your future customers and responding in the way that offers the most value.

That could mean providing content on request, case studies of work carried out for similar businesses for example… or, it could involve learning about who else might be involved in the buying process and finding a way to engage them in the conversation.  It could even mean keeping an opportunity in the pipeline and nurturing the account until the future customer is more ready to purchase. Ultimately it’s about listening to the needs of your future customers’ and responding in a way that always keeps their requirements in mind.

5) Make Your Modern Selling Personalised

The modern buyer is inundated with marketing messages and approaches from businesses trying to sell their services and products. It’s believed that the average person receives 76 emails every day. So one important aspect of modern selling is finding a way to ‘cut through the noise’. Your challenge will be making sure that your carefully crafted message, packed with value, stands out from your competition enough to grab attention.

Your future customers will be over the moon to have a conversation or receive some content that is of genuine value to them, with a personalised approach that puts them first!

There are a number of ways that you can personalise your approach, demonstrating to future customers that they’re not just another name on a long list of targets, but a valued account that you’d really love to start working with.

For example, do a bit of research on their company, and reference it in your conversations. Perhaps the shape of their business has recently changed, a merger or period of growth, a new workspace or maybe even new leadership, something that you could only say if you were doing business with them! All of these little personal touches show the prospect that they matter to you.

Conversations That Win the Modern Sale

You may have noticed as you read through the blog, that a lot of the points start to overlap? If you hadn’t, spoiler alert, they do. The 5 ways to delight the modern buyer all have one thing in common, and it encapsulates what you need to take away from this (if nothing else)!

Which is, that your future customers all want the same thing, great business relationships built around service, and added value on the things that they can’t already do for themselves. If you don’t adapt in order to give it to them, your competitors will soon enough!

The time of cold sales conversations is coming to an end, customers know what they want before they approach a solution.

You need to shift to a customer centric approach, which isn’t easy, but is exactly the kind of approach you can expect when doing ABM (if you aren’t already, get on board!).

If you have any questions about what it means to sell to the modern buyer, or any comments on what we have covered in this blog, please do email me at or comment below and I will happily discuss with you.

Thanks for reading!

For more on Modern Selling techniques have a read of our blog on Segmenting Your Target Accounts for ABM:


One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.


It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.


But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?


Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –


  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.


A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.


By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.


If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?


Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.


The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.


How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.


Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.


It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.


The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –


  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner


In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?


Some industries are booming at the moment such as:


  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.


If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.


Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.