What is Sales Development? (And Why You Need It) - Punch!

What is Sales Development? (And Why You Need It)

Account Development. Inside Sales. Demand Generation. Hybrid Sales. Account-Based Marketing.  Confused? We don’t blame you.

Often the myriad of terms to describe the different bits of the sales process can stump even those of us who work in sales and marketing, let alone our prospects. But there’s one term we thought it was important to clear up any confusion over – sales development.

It’s a vital part of the sales cycle and it’s what we’re passionate about, but what is sales development and why is so important that your business has a sales development strategy?

So What is Sales Development?

Put simply, sales development is the process of filling the top of the sales funnel with leads through outbound prospecting. Trish Bertuzzi, author of the Sales Development Playbook, suggests that whilst inside sales has become a bit of an umbrella term for anyone working client-side trying to generate sales leads and revenue, sales development is a particular function that falls under that umbrella.

The focus of sales development is getting the pipeline filled with opportunities and creating either introductory meetings or qualified opportunities for account executives/sales closers, sales people whose specific job it is to close deals and pull those opportunities over the line. This is done by using a combination of the phone, email, voicemail and social media to connect with prospects and develop a potential relationship that could lead to a sale further down the line.

It differs from the old unsolicited cold calling approach in that it uses data-driven insights to offer greater value to prospects. These could be research into the goals and challenges faced by your typical buyers, or leveraging relevant news about the contact, company or marketplace. Using this kind of information to build relationships with prospects is a key part of sales development.

The sales development role has three important functions –

1. It Brings in A-List Targets

New customers and clients are the lifeblood of any business. In order to grow and develop, you not only need to delight your current clients but attract new ones. In particular, the kind of large clients that can take your businesses to the next level.

Whilst sales enquiries coming into your business are great, it’s a rare occasion that a big company that fits your ideal client profile will get in touch with you on their own steam. Most of these large organisations will never need to go out looking for suppliers, they have enough of a reputation that they will always have potential vendors knocking at their door.

That’s why you need a proactive strategy to go after those big targets, with a message that’s relevant to them.

2. It Helps Assess Inbound Leads

As our friends over at HubSpot know very well, inbound leads often aren’t ready to buy. By using a sales development strategy to segment and qualify your inbound leads, you can manage those leads much more effectively.

Prospects who are ready to buy can be handed off to the team responsible for closing new business, and prospects who may need more nurturing can be given the more focused and personalised attention that the sales development process entails, to develop that relationship of trust until the point when they are ready to become a customer or client.

3. It Puts a Human Face to Your Company

Many experts predicted that the rise of digital technology and online marketing would bring about the end of the traditional interaction between a salesperson and a prospective customer.

But ultimately, even with all the available technology and market intelligence at your fingertips, and even with an amazing product or service, the buying decision today often comes down to a simple question – “who do I trust to deliver what I need?”

Your sales development team are the people who can create that trust between you and your future buyers.

THREE TYPES OF ABM.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

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

FIVE TIPS FOR ACCOUNT SELECTION

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.