Account Selection: How To Win Before You Start
The first step in any account based go-to-market program is to create a target account list. Whether based on a formal Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or not, the target account list represents an organization’s definition of the best accounts and those most likely to become customers. But in reality, marketers really only communicate with a subset of the account list at any one time, and even struggle to cover the full list over the course of a year.
TOO MANY ACCOUNTS TO PURSUE AT ONCE
Nearly half of account based organizations create target account lists with over 1,000 accounts according to TOPO’s Account Based Benchmark Survey. No matter how many orchestrated campaigns organizations launch, they just don’t have the resources to cover the entire list with enough regularity to progress accounts to scheduled meetings. The underlying account selection process is not conducted with enough rigor to solve this problem.
Some accounts are pursued through coordinated programs, while others are distributed among SDRs, with little regard for similarities. This approach requires SDRs to research every account and its industry without the benefit of developing background or specialization in a topic.
The way to solve this is to create a process with two types of programs that help marketers be smarter about the accounts they select. Planned and triggered programs provide aspects for choosing which account and when to choose it in order to improve performance. Combining both types of programs allows planning for better coverage, more effective programs, and the ability to capitalize on time sensitive opportunities with specific accounts.
CREATE PLANNED AND TRIGGERED PROGRAMS
Marketers can think of the selected accounts for planned programs as segments within the target account list with similar attributes. For example:
- Consumer financial services companies with revenue over $10 billion
- Security software companies with 30% growth rate
Triggered programs are ongoing based on identifying activities that indicate the best time to successfully get attention, engage, and progress an account. For example:
- High intent score in relevant categories
- Security companies that launch a program following a publicized breach
- Expiring contract with a competitor
DETERMINE HOW MANY ACCOUNTS EACH SDR CAN SUPPORT
Launching programs to communicate with accounts requires understanding the availability of a variety of go-to-market team members. However, it is the capacity of SDRs that is critical for communicating with all accounts in the target account list. According to TOPO’s recommendations, an SDR can base their weekly schedule of net-new prospecting on nine 90-minute blocks of time per week for a total of 13 1/2 hours.
Determine the capacity of an SDR by estimating the amount of time required for research and personalization for each program. In the example below, the sample programs require 20 minutes, nine minutes, and five minutes respectively. The time required multiplied by the number of contacts per account yields the amount of time needed per account. The total prospecting time divided by the total account time determines the number of accounts that can be contacted per week per SDR if they were to focus all of their net-new prospecting time on a single program. It is this number that is used to calculate the amount of time for a given program.
SELECT MARKETING PROGRAMS BASED ON TEAM CAPACITY
Each planned program focuses on accounts with common characteristics that have the same outcome (e.g., scheduling a first meeting). When the number of accounts in a program is measured against SDR capacity, the result is the number of weeks required for the program. For example, a large Consumer Finserv requires a medium level of research and customization for its 120 accounts. The estimated SDR capacity is 15 new accounts per week for that kind of program, so therefore, it will take two SDRs four weeks to contact all the accounts in the program.
The triggered programs are selected automatically based on action taken by an account, action not taken by an account, or an activity that happens at an account (e.g., high intent score, expiring competitor’s contract). The number of accounts in these programs are estimated based on historical information and compared to capacity just like the planned programs above.
Determine total capacity by comparing the total required weeks for the planned and triggered programs to the available weeks based on the number of SDRs allocated. Determine the amount under or over capacity for the listed programs. Adjust the programs accordingly if they exceed available capacity.
Group accounts with common attributes. The most important thing about grouping accounts to pursue is that they have characteristics in common that allow for the creation of significantly more relevant programs.
All accounts in a program need to have the same next step. The critical element of any program is the offer. Centralizing communication with this group of accounts means that a single offer can progress all accounts to the same next step—scheduling a meeting.
Choose two to four attributes when selecting accounts. Reduce the number of accounts for any given program by choosing attributes that result in a list smaller than the full target account list.
Focus on data sourcing and process for triggered programs. These are timed-based programs that are designed to be launched immediately. Marketers need to make sure that they have the right data available to trigger an action and a process in place for the program to start. These activities cannot happen if they sit in a queue waiting for someone to notice.
Account based organizations can more deliberately pursue an entire target account list through the creation of planned and time-based triggered programs. By identifying common attributes in a subset of accounts, the go-to-market team can centralize messaging and offers for these accounts with the same next step. By also considering the resources required for time-based triggered programs, it is possible to create a marketing calendar that is based on team capacity, rather than a random assignment of accounts. With the goal of progressing accounts to scheduling a meeting, and ultimately a closed-won sale, this process more effectively balances the go-to-marketing organization to make that happen.