Account-Based Sales (with Marketing) - How many accounts should you have?

Every ABM program starts with the selection of “Target Accounts”. At BuyingTime we see everything from a VIP list of 9 large companies through to a set of 200 accounts – all ready to be profiled, contacts built and engagement planning commenced.

Selecting target accounts MUST start as a dialogue between sales & marketing – and is always a function of the following factors:

  1. Expected deal size

  2. Length of sales cycle

  3. Available sales resources

  4. Current activity with major prospects

  5. Depth of ABM strategy

Our associate and ABM strategist Alan Edwards ran a session for our clients (and a few hangers on) recently, where he put up the following slide regarding ways of calculating “available selling time”.

Many Sales Directors I know will have various challenges and thoughts about this set of calculations (we see salespeople with as few as 20 accounts each in some Enterprise sales environments), but in truth there are almost always too many target accounts for the sales resource available.

Another thought – related and possibly more fundamental regarding the relative success of various ABM initiatives – is that ABM projects are by definition “long-term”, and can only be measured against a yearly target. To give a salesperson with a quarterly sales quota an “ABM” account list – is just wrong – and both the salesperson and the ABM project will fail.

Moving on then, the next step is to tier accounts, and then map the sales resource against the “types” of accounts in the program.

As I’m sure is clear – this is not a job to be done in isolation. In fact, this part of the ABS&M process (stands for Account Based Sales & Marketing but reads like Sado Masochism I know) is only successful if done with sales and marketing working together.

The key benefit of ABS&M is that of harmonizing sales and marketing activities – sharing effort and success. For too long in our view – technology sales and marketing have been silos – dissing one another for failure to deliver, and complaining about one another’s output. This early element of mapping accounts against available sales resource is critical to the formation of an effective program.

If you want to know more – please contact Jamie Hancox or leave a comment below.