How to Use an Account-Based Strategy to Drive Revenue Growth

In an uncertain economy, driving revenue simultaneously becomes mission critical and increasingly difficult to accomplish. In 2023, every business — regardless of its size or industry — is worried about hitting its number. 

When the purse strings tighten, efficiency becomes a top priority. I talked about this in my last piece, “Driving Sales Efficiency When Facing a Downturn.”  For starters, that means getting your tech stack right and tight. Consolidation is the name of the game here. Get rid of those  single-point tools that don’t work well together and instead opt for more comprehensive solutions that integrate data and processes across the revenue lifecycle. 

Efficiency is also important in your go-to-market motions, but efficiency doesn’t always necessarily mean velocity. What it does mean is zeroing in on the deals that are most likely to close and that have the most value to your business. 

That’s where account-based strategies (ABS) come into play. An ABS concentrates on a set of target accounts within a defined market. It’s especially effective when those target accounts are enterprise companies, which have complex and large buying committees and long buying cycles. And in tough economic times like these, it simplifies prioritization, provides a clearer path to ROI and streamlines the customer acquisition process. 

When the economy is uncertain and revenue is hard to come by, sales and marketing teams alike crave quick wins and instant gratification. So it’s an important caveat that you’re not going to see fast results with an account-based strategy. ABS is often referred to as  “fishing with a spear” rather than “fishing with a net.” It requires extra time, effort and patience, as well as an entire shift in mindset. But for businesses that are focused on landing the whales, ABS is a smart way to go. 

Fostering alignment between sales and marketing

There’s a common misconception that “account-based” is a marketer’s game. There are countless think pieces out there about account-based marketing (ABM) that are chock-full of advice for marketers. But ABM without alignment and partnership with the sales team is a recipe for failure.

That’s why you should approach it as an account-based strategy — one that couples account-based marketing with account-based selling. The problem for a lot of organizations is that sales and marketing are often siloed due to poor communication, disparate workflows and separate sets of data. But to find success with ABS, sales and marketing must work together. 

Remember, this is a team sport, and your ultimate goal is to win new business. So, set aside the “us versus them” mindset that taints too many sales and marketing organizations. When sales and marketing work together using an account-based strategy, the result is a more personalized, hyper-relevant experience for your buyers and higher deal win rates for your company.

Slow and steady wins the race

Volume makes salespeople and marketers feel successful, but ABS is all about quality over quantity. As I mentioned before, you can’t expect quick wins or a mountain of ready-to-close deals right off the bat. Otherwise, it’s easy to assume a program is failing. 

Instead of thinking, “I’m going to market to every business,” pivot to, “I’m going to market to this very specific subset of companies because they fit my ideal customer profile.” ABS requires a solid understanding of your leading indicators and early signs of success, as well as a regular and rapid feedback loop between your sales and marketing teams. 

Start by creating your ICP. Define the characteristics of accounts that are most likely to buy. Creating an ICP will establish the model to identify the target accounts best suited to your product. When creating your ICP, consider these attributes: 

  • Industry 
  • Company size 
  • Annual recurring revenue
  • Current tech stack
  • Pain points
  • Growth rate

So how do you know your ABS is working? Here’s what successful account-based execution looks like:

  • Early indicators like increased engagement from target accounts
  • Booking more meetings with your target accounts
  • Opportunities are being created within your target accounts
  • Marketing is working with sales across all the pipeline stages and putting plans together to move deals forward

Clearly, there’s a lot more that goes into building and executing a successful ABS. Here are two resources I recommend to help you build out your program: Gartner’s “Account-Based Everything Framework” and Salesloft’s Account-Based Strategy Playbook for more in-depth guidance on implementation. 

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Getting the most out of your time, talent, tech

An account-based strategy gives revenue teams the gift of focus and prioritization. It ensures teams are focusing on the most relevant, high-value accounts. Enabling your ABS with the right technology will supercharge your go-to-market motion. 

For sellers, sales engagement technology not only automates away low-value administrative tasks so that sellers can focus on working their accounts; it also surfaces engagement metrics and insights into which buyers need more attention and which messages and sales activities are working. 

For marketers, ABM solutions like 6sense uncover anonymous buying behavior, allowing marketers to prioritize their budget on in-market accounts and execute personalized, hyper-relevant advertising at scale. Pairing the two technologies together ensures that sales and marketing teams are efficiently working the same accounts, increasing the likelihood of closing more revenue.

ABS isn’t for everybody. If  you’re a velocity-based business or you primarily target small and midsize businesses, account-based strategies may not be the right fit. But for larger buying cycles and enterprise deals, ABS is an excellent way to hone your sales and marketing efforts and drive intentional wins during market uncertainty.

Lauren Vaccarello is the Chief Marketing Officer at Salesloft. She is an award-winning marketing leader with a track record of accelerating revenue growth and scaling some of the most well-known brands in the B2B SaaS market. She has a robust background in brand strategy, digital marketing, demand generation and international expansion. At Salesloft, Lauren leads the team devoted to making Salesloft the most recognizable brand in sales technology. Lauren earned her Bachelor’s in Marketing from Emerson College, and she currently serves on the board of directors for Thryv and SalesHood.

  • Originally published February 10, 2023