In the modern buying cycle, the principle of teamwork is essential. Sales cycles are getting longer. More people have a seat at the buying table. The buying process is getting more complex. As a result, different departments within an organization have to work more closely than ever to create a coordinated strategy to cater to multiple decision makers.
The industry turning to Account Based Everything to help teams make the transition. Account Based Everything is a strategic go-to-market approach that orchestrates personalized marketing, sales, and success efforts to land and expand at named accounts.
In this post we will be talking about one of the key pillars in Account Based Everything – Account Based Sales Development.
Now, just because we are talking about sales development doesn’t mean we are just talking about sales people. ABSD is part of an integrated approach which means this sales strategy involves more than just your sales reps. This strategy involves sales, marketing, and success.
We’ve partnered with EverSring to bring you an entire guide to help you kick start your Account Based Sales Development strategy. Check out the Clear & Complete Guide to Account Bases Sales Development here!
In this post we will cover one part of ABSD – selecting your all-star team.
What to Look for When Selecting Your All-Star Players
Whether you’re looking to hire new reps or looking to draft current players within your organization for your new ABSD team, there are certain traits you want to look for in your sales and marketing personnel.
For your sales reps, look for these traits:
- Intelligent – ABSD is about taking a strategic approach. Find great listeners who can also use the information obtained.
- Disciplined – Longer sales cycles mean patience is a must. Also, don’t neglect the goal-oriented people.
- Understanding and respectful of marketing – Sales will be working with marketing a lot. You need them to be friends.
- Open minded – This is not business and sales as usual. This is a new process and approach.
- Natural followers of The Challenger Sale – There will be much teaching and tailoring throughout the entire process.
For your marketing reps, looks for these traits:
- Senior marketers – You want seasoned and experienced people leading the marketing efforts if your ABSD program. Solution marketing experience (to focus on insight), and/or field marketing experience (to focus on interaction and orchestration) will pay off huge here.
- Tough skin – They must be able to hold their own with intelligent and driven sales personalities.
- Business acumen – As a company, you must be experts on their business.
- Strong project management – Leadership and relationship skills are required to pitch and manage campaigns and keep the eye on the ball.
- Well-rounded team players – You’re not operating in a silo anymore. Each teammate’s actions will affect the rest of the team.
As you can see, the job descriptions for an ABSD sales or marketing team member is going to be much different than your traditional job description. With the increase in complexity of the sale, an increase in skills and disciplines is necessary.
Let’s address the elephant in the room – sales and marketing alignment. Traditionally, the two departments are polite and tolerant at best, in a nuclear conflict at worst. However, in ABSD, alignment is crucial. The two departments must understand that they’re striving for the same end goal. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is only the beginning, where metrics, definitions and compensation are determined and explicitly laid out. Only once sales starts to see that marketing can embrace and take revenue responsibility, the foundation of trust is built.
There are many ways sales and marketing can and should work together. For example, marketing can help the sales team gain insights into an industry and how to leverage those insights to break into key accounts. Social media marketing tools like BuzzSumo, Owler, and Mention.com can prove invaluable to an ABSD team, allowing to get more insights into social activity. Sale then delivers feedback to marketing on messaging and content needs.
As your company and your ABSD program grows, you will need to continuously adapt and adjust your structure to meet the needs and wants of your customers.
Your ABSD Roster
The players you need to suit up and send out to when the game is on the line will vary from team to team, deal to deal, and industry to industry. But at its core Account Based Sales Development team typically includes:
- Account executive and sales team member
- Solutions and services consultants / delivery personnel
- Marketing representatives from solutions, industry, communications, and field teams
- Professional service and support organizations
Here’s a bit more about the specific roles and corresponding responsibilities. As you read through them, keep in mind what would make sense for you, your company and your industry. The last thing you should be doing is copying the team structure and roles of someone else doing ABSD if your companies are not nearly identical.
|Account Executive (AE) and sales team members||
|Sales Development Reps (SDR)||
|Solutions Consultants / Delivery Personnel||
|Product Management / Marketer||
|Professional Services Representative||
As a general rule, the larger the deal, the more players you need on your team. The more complex the sale, the more players you need on your team. The longer the sales cycle the more players you need. But again, I want to emphasize the point that you must always adjust your structure, process, and team to whatever will help you best serve your customer.
Finding the Ideal ADR to AE Ratio
The biggest question we get around ABSD team structure is SDR to AE ratio. Deciding how many accounts each SDR can handle and how they’re deployed and managed is an important part of your ABSD strategy – but there are no fixed answers here. Once again, your structure will depend on your goals, deal sizes, and team capacity.
The average ratio is 1 SDR to 2.5 Account Executives. This ratio is down sharply from previous reports. As recently as 2014 the ratio was 1:3.9.
In a recent TOPO study, the ratio varies by company size, with larger companies having more AEs per SDR (likely because larger companies focus more on profitability than growth at any cost):
Another study by The Bridge Group shows a similar split:
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn how to align your team, orchestrate and launch personalized campaigns at scale, then measure and adjust, check out Engagio and EverString’s Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development today.