How to Engage More Strategic Accounts as a Sales Development Team

By Ian Sullivan

When I hear people refer to account-based marketing as the latest B2B trend, I can’t help but laugh. Sales teams have been targeting and selling to strategic accounts since day one.

But what has changed in recent years is the technology that makes it easy to identify, prioritize, and engage your best-fit accounts. Finally, with the help of data and software, sales and marketing are working together to achieve the same goals.

Sales development – or business development, account qualification and prospecting, whatever you want to call it – serves as a bridge between marketing and sales. Use these three tips to empower smarter, more effective sales development with ABM.

1. Rely on data, not your gut.

How do you prioritize your target accounts? If you’re like a lot of reps, you might scan your list and cherry-pick the companies that sound most promising – but where’s the science in that?

When you’re doing ABM, data is critical. It’s your marketing team’s job to deliver a list of target accounts, but it’s your responsibility to prioritize them and build relationships with the right people. Fortunately, modern tech has all the data you need to surface your hottest accounts.

To do this, you’ll need to look at both intent and engagement insights. Intent data uses online signals to uncover which accounts are in an active buying cycle.

Engagement data alerts you to accounts that are engaging with your most valuable Web content. By using ABM tools that aggregate this data at an account level, you can see engagement from accounts and individuals that have never filled out a form on your Website. This all but eliminates the need to generate leads. When you know which accounts are engaging with your content anonymously, you can reach out earlier with more relevant messaging.

Prioritizing accounts actively searching for your solution, engaging with your Website and content, or even looking into your competition is exponentially more effective than volume outreach for building high-quality pipeline.

2. Scrap your templated emails and get personal.

Buyers are being inundated with sales outreach – sometimes receiving upwards of 20 emails a day from companies asking for their time (and, ultimately, their money). Most SDRs will take the time to personalize the subject and first line or so of an email; but, to really stand out, you need to go the extra mile.

Start by using data enrichment tools and good old-fashioned research to identify your ideal buyers at each target account. Make sure your team is aligned with marketing on the buyer personas you need to engage. Use this information to develop authentic messages that speak to your buyers’ needs. I won’t pretend this is quick and easy – real personalization never is – but it’s worth it.

While sales development can be perceived as a numbers game (e.g., how much outreach does it take to generate a quality meeting?), a lower-volume, highly-targeted approach is what it takes to be successful with ABM. I suggest a reasonable activity quota to incentivize the right behavior and manage expectations.

3. Never become complacent.

While an SDR’s job is paramount to the success of a company, the repetitive nature of the role can prove challenging for even the most enthusiastic reps. To be successful, you need to challenge yourself and grow your skill set every day.

A channel that may drive success one month may run dry the next. Phone conversations may take unscripted turns as the market evolves and new objections come into play. SDRs need to allocate time every day to stay up to date on the market and constantly try new tactics – for example, making personalized outreach videos, changing a call script around, and continuously familiarizing themselves with their product and their competitors.

In Conclusion: Win More with ABM

Account-based marketing is here to stay, and the companies that are able to successfully align sales and marketing will find the most success. As an SDR who went through the transition from a lead-based marketing model to an account-based model, I can speak first-hand of the success I’ve enjoyed from a data-driven, personalized approach to ABM.

Ian Sullivan is an enterprise sales development representative at Terminus. You can find him on Twitter at @Marketing_Sully.

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