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By: Alice Heiman
Categories: Building Relationships, lead generation, Prospecting, Sales

Want to know how to make sales really hard? A long list of cold prospects in front of you and a phone in your hand. There is an easier way.

Let’s face it—selling doesn’t start until we have someone to sell to. It’s a simple enough concept, but you have probably already discovered that getting leads isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s so hard, that experts can’t even agree on the best or easiest way to get leads. One common way to look for leads is to cold call. Another common way is to rely on content-driven inbound leads. Some experts will tell you that referrals are the best way to find leads and others will say that the secret is account-based lead gen.

So, which way is the best? It’s different for every company, but what I can tell you right now is that account-based everything is all the rage. Does it work? I can tell you this, when account-based lead gen is properly implemented, it is incredibly powerful. So, I want to share with you how to create an account-based lead gen program for your company.

First, a quick and very incomplete history of account-based. A few years ago, Jon Miller, founder of Marketo, left to start a company called Engagio. Jon, still a huge supporter of inbound marketing strategies, realized that while companies were waiting for inbound leads, they were missing the opportunity to get the accounts with the highest potential. He said it was like the difference between fishing with nets and fishing with spears. Marketing’s job is traditionally seen as throwing out the net, while the sales team tends to do more targeted lead gen. Account-based marketing, as Jon describes it, is using the marketing team to support sales in targeted lead gen. Jon didn’t create the term, but he has led the effort to make it a recognized concept in sales and marketing.

Account-based selling is not a new concept. I taught account-based selling for Miller Heiman 20 years ago. Back then, we called is strategic selling or managing a complex sale. Regardless of if it’s account-based selling or account-based marketing, the key is to connect with all of the people involved in the buying decision. The best way to do that is to develop an interest using account-based lead gen.

In a Complex Sale, No One Decides Alone

Account-based lead gen means your team is focused on marketing and eventually selling to an account and the many decision-makers attached to it. This is important because complex sales don’t rely on a single person saying “yes.” The average B2B buying team is between five and six people according to CEB. So, if your sales strategy only focuses on one person, you are more likely to encounter objections and delays because you are not communicating with all the decision-makers.

Put Your Effort Where it Matters Most

The most successful account-based lead gen is the result of a joint sales and marketing effort focused on the accounts you most want to land. According to Marketo, companies are 67% better at closing deals when sales and marketing teams are in sync. That’s why these highly targeted and personalized campaigns are ideal for big prospects.

Some of the best benefits of account-based lead gen include:

More Money

Usually, deals that close as the result of account-based lead gen are bigger than those from inbound or outbound lead gen strategies alone. The average contract value of targeted accounts is 40% higher for mid-market and 35% higher for enterprise accounts, according to Demandbase.

Better, Long-Lasting Relationships

These deals are also more likely to have buy-in from a wider team, to lock out or constrain competitors, and to reach deeper into the account, according to Engagio.

Dramatically Improved Close Rate

By targeting accounts with your sales and marketing teams, you can also increase your close rate. For mid-market accounts, account-based strategies can result in a 166% higher close rate and that rate climbs to 285% for enterprise accounts, according to Demandbase.

A successful account-based selling strategy boils down to five steps:

  1. Select your list of target companies
  2. Research your target companies
  3. Find specific contacts
  4. Plan a multi-touch campaign
  5. Create content that supports the campaign
  6. Start Connecting

To help you plan your account-based lead gen strategy, I’ve created this free account-based lead gen guide to walk you through the process. You can download the guide below.

Account-based lead gen can help your business win big by focusing more energy on the prospects that will deliver the best results. If you want help developing an account-based selling strategy to take your company to the next level, our team can help. Call us at 775-852-5020 or schedule an appointment to speak with an account-based strategy expert.

Alice Heiman
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Alice Heiman

Founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC
Alice Heiman has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. Her innovative sales leadership programs, coupled with her top-down approach to creating long-term change, set up sales leaders and sales-managing business owners to get consistent and sustainable growth.
Alice Heiman
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2 thoughts on “This Is What You Need to Know About Account-based Lead Gen”

  1. Alice, your article brought back memories of my group benefit days. 15 years ago we evaluated accounts based on “headroom” and the ones that had the “highest” headroom, we strategically enrolled people in our circle of influence to introduce us in order to expand the account.
    Makes me giggle occasionally that new terms come from old concepts but positioned as a new concept!

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