The Role of Sales Enablement in Your Account Based Everything Strategy

February 22, 2017 by Alex Yamamoto

Over the past few years, account based marketing (ABM) has become an increasingly popular strategy for B2B SaaS marketing and sales teams.

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With that growth, came the realization that “account based” thinking should go beyond just marketing, and thus, the Account Based Everything (ABE) movement was born. So what does ABE mean?

According to TOPO, who coined the term, Account Based Everything is: “The coordination of personalized marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success efforts to drive engagement with, and conversion of, a targeted set of accounts.”

The growth of an ABE strategy can be seen as a natural response to today’s SaaS selling environment dominated by driving a higher quantity of leads vs. quality. Whether it’s mass cold email outreach campaigns or marketing-driven advertising campaigns, the widespread adoption of best practices from the last few years have made prospects immune to these now “traditional” approaches. World-class ABE programs are able to cut through the digital noise with personalized buying experiences for their target accounts across the whole sales funnel: from the initial touch point with a sales rep all the way to cross-sell/upsell opportunities with a customer success rep.

While an account-based strategy to selling is not a new concept, recent trends (more informed buyers and more decision makers in the buying process) and new technologies like artificial intelligence has allowed an ABE strategy to scale more effectively than in the past.

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Finally, there are now sufficient products in the market to build your ABE stack. One only needs to glance at this massive landscape of ABE solutions to begin to see the explosive growth of the movement. Yet, one category of products missing in this landscape is sales enablement solutions. Your sales enablement team and the solutions in their stack will help add value to your ABE strategy.

So what are the some of the ways your sales enablement team can fuel success for an ABE strategy?

Identifying your Ideal Customer Profile and buyer personas is the first step

While not the sole domain of your sales enablement team, crafting your ideal customer profile is the foundation from which your ABE strategy rests on.

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Your ICP should be crafted with both quantitative stats from historical prospect and customer data, as well as qualitative insights from talking to relevant stakeholders. The end-goal is alignment across all of your customer-facing teams on the key attributes of your ideal customers. An ICP is a constantly evolving document that provides the backbone for the creation of your target account list that sales will prospect and marketing will target campaigns toward.

Where your enablement team can really make an impact is working to identify the buyer personas within your ICP accounts. These personas usually detail the buyer’s functional role, key pain points, role in the decision-making process, and other motivators that will help your sales reps when messaging your product to each persona.

Like your ICP, alignment of buyer personas across your entire customer-facing organization ensures a consistent message to prospect and customers. With fully fleshed out buyer personas your marketing team can create relevant assets across the buyer’s journey (by persona), which reps can leverage to deliver timely content to prospects.

Customized buyer content is the key to a successful ABE strategy

A central part of your ABE playbook is offering custom content targeted to your buyer’s specific industry, company, and persona. Your reps need access to content that they can easily customize for their prospects and sales enablement plays a central role in creating this content. Examples of such content throughout the sales funnel could be:

Use case stories: These stories showcase a compelling way a customer uses your product to solve a specific business problem that’s specific to your prospect’s industry and persona. Similar to a case study, but much shorter (just a few sentences should do), use case stories work because they give you credibility in the market since their industry peers are using and seeing success with your product. These are best used during your rep’s initial outreach emails to intrigue prospects to learn more and take a meeting.

Customized messaging (objection handling/competitive positioning): Following a discovery call or using prospecting software like Datafox, it’s imperative that your reps know the competitive product your prospect currently uses. Sales enablement should be crafting the messaging around competitive positioning and the specific objections that commonly come up during calls with prospects. This information needs to be continually kept up-to-date as your product changes and as the competitive landscape changes as well.

Custom demos: Sales reps should be customizing demos for every prospects. General best practices point to 80/20 (80% template, 20% personalized) as a good ratio that provides enough personalization for your reps to execute at scale. Sales enablement plays a key role in training your reps on the general flow of the demo and ensuring they can articulate the value of your product to each specific industry and persona in your ICP.

Champion content: As we mentioned earlier, software decisions are increasingly made by a “buying committee” which involves more people in the decision making process. This makes arming your internal champion with content crucial towards ensuring he/she has the necessary resources to navigate organizational politics and help accelerate the decision making process. An important role of your sales enablement team is to create this content that helps move sales cycles forward and stop deals from getting stuck. Examples include 1-pagers on common roadblocks (ie - security) or a vendor comparison guide for complementary solutions.

Custom ROI / Business case decks: One important piece of champion content that’s valuable towards the end of a sales cycle is a custom ROI deck. This deck is meant to arm the champion with a resource they can show the ultimate decision maker (usually a C-level executive) who may not care about the feature set of the product but does care about the potential ROI they will see from implementing the solution. At Guru, our sales enablement team has created them for the two primary verticals we sell to: sales and support. Our reps can then customize content based on things learned throughout the sales cycle to tailor the deck for each prospect.

As you can see, content creation plays a critical role in executing a world-class ABE program and sales enablement is often tasked with creating these assets for the sales team.

Decentralization of knowledge across all customer facing teams is the oil that keeps the ABE engine going

While the last section focused on sales enablement’s role on creating content for your sales team, the reality is they are creating it for all of your customer-facing teams. If you look back to the definition of ABE we presented earlier, it not only mentions sales but customer success and marketing as well. This is important, because a necessary component to succeed with an ABE strategy is to have strong alignment between these teams.

Just like your sales team, your customer success team will be leveraging content your sales enablement team creates in order to upsell converted customers. For this reason, it makes sense to have one, unified knowledge base to store all of your customer-facing content and knowledge. Having a single source of truth ensures your reps don’t waste time searching for information in email, slack, Google docs, etc just to find what they are looking for. Also, having a knowledge base for each team creates knowledge silos, leading to an inconsistent message that can create unrealistic expectations for prospects and customers.

To additionally augment your ABE strategy you should find a sales enablement solution that lives in your team’s workflow. There’s no use in storing all of your knowledge in a solution if your customer-facing teams can’t easily access it. Knowledge portals force your team to change their habits, which make them difficult to adopt. Instead, find a knowledge base that lives as a browser extension or integrates with the apps your team currently uses like Slack to maximize adoption.

While switching to an ABE strategy requires plenty of coordination across your marketing, sales development, and customer success teams, don’t overlook the crucial role sales enablement can play in executing your ABE strategy.