What the Data Says About B2B Account Planning
Have you ever seen a heist movie?
Heist movies are about stealing stuff, of course, but they’re really about the complex web of interactions that humans weave when conspiring to accomplish feats of great ambition (in this case, stealing stuff).
The best ones – Kubrick’s The Killing; Ocean’s 11 with Clooney and Pitt; The Sting with Redford and Newman – fascinate us with grand plans orchestrated to overcome formidable challenges. The stakes are high, but so are the obstacles. And when they succeed – or even when they fail – we’re engaged because, well, we just can’t resist the lure of the big prize.
In sales, B2B account planning is kind of like plotting a heist, minus the stealing. The same principle applies: the bigger the prize, the more aggressive and daring your plan has to be. Going into a casino heist blind, with the same strategy you’d use to take down a small-town bank, is a recipe for disaster. Note: We don’t recommend doing either, for obvious legal reasons.
Here’s what the data say about B2B account planning and how sales teams can benefit from creating big plans for big companies.
Account-Based Selling = Higher Revenue Growth
The appeal of a big account is the prospect of not just one lucrative deal, but several lucrative deals over the lifetime of the relationship, resulting in more revenue per account. Since the deals are all contained within the same organization, it’s inherently easier to reach decision makers, build consensus, and coordinate solutions.
Demandbase wanted to know how many sales teams benefit from account-based selling. They asked sales organizations about revenue growth and found that 60% of organizations who implemented B2B account planning for a year saw significant revenue growth.
They also discovered that account-based sales makes companies 41% more likely to go beyond their revenue goals.
Account-Based Sales Improves Account-Based Marketing (and Vice-Versa)
Following a strategy to tackle key accounts isn’t just good for sales. It’s also good for marketing – and improvement in one tends to benefit improvement in the other. Improvement isn’t just theoretical. Email marketing enabler Ebsta wanted to see just how effective account planning could be in reaching potential customers. They found that by adopting an account-based selling approach, buyers opened emails at a higher rate – as much as 60%.
Customers also replied to emails at a higher rate (by almost 50%).
If more stakeholders are opening and replying to sales and marketing emails, that means more connections are being made between buyers and sales reps.
In fact, aligning sales and marketing processes can also improve customer retention rates in target accounts by as much as 36%.
One reason is because key stakeholders become more familiar with your brand across the board. This makes them more likely to open emails and take calls. As you engage with buyers on all levels, from employees lower on the totem pole to management and the C-suite, your access grows.
And as content (especially personalized content) circulates through an organization, messages carry more weight, which also helps to open doors.
Just like you can’t take down the big score without coordination between your demolition team, hackers, getaway drivers, helicopter pilots, and thieves disguised as security guards, you can’t reap the biggest benefits unless sales and marketing teams are aligned.
B2B account planning makes that process much easier.
Using an Account-Based Sales Process Helps You Better Understand Customers
When planning a heist, it’s generally recommended to scope out the joint. Understand the key people you’ll have to outsmart or overpower to get the job done. Knowing the routines of the security guards, the proclivities of the casino floor manager, or the response time of law enforcement can make or break a heist.
In sales, the better you understand decision makers, the more successful you’ll be. ABS helps you develop a more complete picture of key personnel within a company, which in turn offers major payoffs.
TOPO (now Gartner) studied the impact of the ideal customer profile. (“The ideal customer profile (ICP) defines the firmographic, environmental and behavioral attributes of accounts that are expected to become a company’s most valuable customers.”) They found that when sales teams built strong ICPs for a target account, they saw 68% higher win rates within that account.
Account-based selling can not only help you better understand your buyer. It can also make your deals more likely to close. Why? Because you can pull in data and info from automated platforms, key account management apps, and one-on-one sales conversations.
How Will You Plan Your Next Heist?
A high-value company needs a plan worthy of the challenge. If you want to hijack a train carrying tons of gold to Fort Knox, you’re going to need a sophisticated approach. Cover all of your angles and bring all of your resources to bear.
The same goes for a sales strategy. If you adopt a planning process for key accounts, you’ll likely see more success, just like other sales teams that have jumped on the account-based selling bandwagon over the past few years.
Who knows? Maybe your newly-acquired account-based selling will translate to a career of another sort – one found in the shadows and involving tuxedos, duffel bags full of cash, and really fast cars.
(Or maybe you should just stick to selling.)