Selecting Suitable Accounts for ABM

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Sometimes, the hardest part of any process is simply starting it. You can have great ideas on how to win your dream accounts, but what use are those if you don’t know where to begin?

We’ve put together this simple guide for ensuring the criteria for selection is based on sound logic and strategy and offers the best opportunity for success.

Define the selection criteria

Research of existing customers should enable you to develop a template of what your ideal account needs to look like. This “success” should be based on repeatable, scalable attributes that your organisation can deliver time and again, as opposed to one-off wildly successful projects, as tempting as that may be.

The attributes should include elements such as:

  • Profitability over time
  • Relative scale of the project to other work
  • Industry sector expertise in your organisation
  • Decision-maker suitability and engagement
  • Strategic objectives matching your solution benefits and outcomes
  • Core products and services sold
  • Match of values and approach

The next step is to meet with key sales and marketing stakeholders in the business, armed with this information, in order to agree on a set of selection criteria that can include:

  • Company Size
  • Turnover
  • Sentiment – what’s their approach to innovation and change? Are they forward-thinking? Are they investing or cutting back?
  • Strategy – do their primary strategic goals align with the problems your technology can solve?

Your own checklist will largely be determined by what’s uncovered during the ideal customer exercise.

Once you have this basic checklist, you can move on to the next point.

Talk to your sales team

Either one to one or in a group exercise, share this selection criteria with the sales team, demonstrating why the criteria were developed. Ask the sales team to come up with a shortlist of accounts they want to go for, matched to the selection criteria. It’s important to ensure the targeting decisions are made equally between sales and marketing, this will maximise chances for success. When it comes to ABM, cooperation is key!

Depending on your ABM approach (1:1, 1:few or 1:many) will determine how many accounts you are looking for. Your long list from sales should be no more than twice this number.

Understand what opportunities there are

It’s tempting to go for accounts just because you want them. You must make sure that A. the company ticks off the above boxes, and B. will want to buy your technology solution. Here’s a little scenario: you’re a tech company looking to sell a retail POS solution to the biggest retail stores in the UK. Your solution is all about investing money to grow, and improve the customer experience. Store A has been on your ‘dream client’ list for years but is undergoing massive budget cuts, and Store B is a fast-growing newcomer who embodies the sentiment of innovation. The choice here is clear in terms of sentiment, but would still require further matching.

Avoid a gut-feel approach and base the selection of facts that are more difficult to debate once established. A large element of this is that you want to ensure the customer will want to buy before you begin to sell. Understand what opportunities are available within the business that the solutions can fit into.

There’s still plenty more to do, including stakeholder and relationship mapping, but we will leave that for another time.

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