Target account selling (TAS) is a B2B sales methodology designed to fill your sales funnel with perfect-fit, high-value leads.
TAS is a research-intensive process that requires cross-functional teams to create targeted lists of prospective customers and then nurture those target accounts with personalized support throughout the entire buyer’s journey.
The idea is that sales teams can direct their resources toward closing the leads with the highest potential lifetime value and provide a better buying experience to every stakeholder involved in the decision-making process.
In this guide, we’ll explain what target account selling is, when to use it, and the four elements that define this powerful methodology.
What is Target Account Selling?
Target account selling is a sales strategy that involves building and sustaining long-term relationships with highly-qualified target accounts. This methodology is designed to help sellers identify and nurture the perfect-fit leads that are most likely to become long-term, high-value customers.
Sales and marketing teams work together to nurture each decision-maker through their own version of the buying process — often using insights from the customer service team — until the deal officially closes.
Post-close, all three teams will continue to work closely with the customer success team, which can provide insight into the customer experience that can later be used to refine buyer personas, prospecting strategies, content, and other tactics for future success.
In the long term, the focus shifts toward nurturing the relationship via product updates, news, and announcements, as well as continuing to look for new ways to deliver value to key accounts.
When to use Target Account Selling
The target account selling methodology is best suited for closing large, complex deals with multiple decision-makers.
Targeted account selling involves a lot of deep research and cross-departmental coordination. You’re investing more effort into lead generation, prospecting, and audience research early on, but all of that work will make the rest of the sales process more efficient and effective — not to mention more valuable for the decision-makers involved in the process.
It’s also an effective strategy for selling subscription-based products, big-ticket items, and products and services that set the stage for future upgrades, upsells, and cross-sell opportunities.
Additionally, this strategy only works if you’re able to find prospects who are looking for a long-term partnership. Spending hours on research, planning, and personalized TAS campaigns seems like nothing if you end up with a high-value customer who sticks with your company for a very long time.
Beyond making sure that TAS fits with your business model and overall sales strategy, you’ll need to make sure that you’re prepared to execute on this strategy. The following items must be in place before you can move forward with this strategy:
- Mature data strategy – According to Gartner, data and intelligence are at the core of any account-based sales strategy. It starts with a centralized CRM that connects your entire business and integrates with all relevant data sources. Think sales, marketing, and financial data, customer feedback, website and engagement analytics, market and competitor intelligence, social feeds, conversational insights, etc.
- Clearly-defined sales goals – What do you hope to achieve with TAS? Are you trying to speed up a long sales cycle? Attract new customers? Sell to existing accounts? It’s important to nail this down ASAP, as your goals will inform your entire approach.
- Internal alignment – Target account selling is a data-driven collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer success teams. With multiple people working the same deal, the stakes are much higher than traditional tactics where each rep does their own thing. All of your eggs are in the same basket — so a missed opportunity means big trouble for the bottom line.
Key elements of Target Account Selling
Like the Sandler Sales System, TAS is a research-driven sales strategy that focuses on building relationships with perfect-fit prospects. Unlike Sandler, however, TAS doesn’t follow a prescribed set of steps. Each account is unique, and as such, campaigns are built around the individual needs and pain points of each company on your list.
With that said, the methodology includes four key components, which serve as the foundation for creating successful Target Account Selling campaigns. Here’s a quick overview:
1. Ideal customer profile
An ideal customer profile, or ICP, is a list of behavioral, environmental, and firmographic attributes your top-performing accounts have in common. Your ICP tells you exactly who to target based on the logic that prospects that share key characteristics with your best customers will eventually join their ranks.
Use data from key accounts and recent wins to identify decision-maker attributes, including:
- Company size
- Years in business
- Size of customer base
- Funding/IPO/M&A status
Understanding these attributes and why they’re relevant allows you to make better decisions about which opportunities to prioritize — and which triggers to pull to move deals through the pipeline.
Keep in mind that a list of attributes won’t get you very far if you don’t understand them in context. You’ll also want to talk to your current customers to understand their reasons for choosing your company in the first place — and why they stick around.
Questions you might ask:
- What made you purchase this solution?
- What problems or pain points were you trying to solve?
- How has our solution helped you solve those problems?
- Who was involved in this decision? Who made the final call?
- How did you learn about our product/company?
- Why do you keep using our product/service?
- How do you use this solution in your day-to-day work?
- Which features/capabilities are most valuable to you? Why?
- How has our solution helped you reach a certain goal?
The point is, talking to the real people behind these accounts can give you a better sense of who you should be targeting and how to start building a strong rapport from the get-go.
2. Buyer personas
What sets target account selling apart from other research-centric methodologies like Gap Selling, Value Selling, or SNAP Selling, is that TAS involves connecting with multiple points of contact.
Sellers reach out to multiple decision-makers within a single account using different messaging and sales tactics to communicate the value of their solution in the way that makes the most sense to individual roles, preferences, and challenges.
This means that in addition to your ICP, you’ll also need to create detailed personas for the buyers within each of the ideal accounts you’ll be targeting.
Buyer personas typically include information like:
- Job title
- Personality traits
- Preferred communication methods
The more specific you can get here, the better. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to develop personalized content and communications for each of the individual decision-makers in your target accounts.
3. Target account list
A target account list is the list of accounts your team will target using data-driven prospecting, nurturing, and closing techniques, personalized messaging, and tailored solutions.
Defining this list also represents the first step toward implementing your TAS strategy.
Each account on your list must align with the characteristics you’ve documented in the ICP and be a good fit for the products or services you offer.
While this process looks different for everyone, here are a few ideas for how you might go about building your list:
- Use your ICP to guide your search – Use the attributes documented in your ICP to identify potential candidates. For example, you can use LinkedIn’s filters to search for new leads that match the industry and size of your ideal customer. Tools like Crunchbase or Owler can help you search for accounts based on revenue or funding status.
- Use customer feedback and conversational insights – Use conversational insights and feedback from your best accounts to understand the perspective of each persona. Combine those insights with the account-specific data you’ve just collected to inform your initial outreach strategy. As you get to know each decision-maker, you can incorporate personal details into future conversations.
- Identify in-market buyers with intent data – Real-time intent data allows you to identify purchase-ready buyers based on specific signals (visiting a certain page, booking a demo, downloading a white paper, etc.). Unlike historical data or firmographics, intent data can help you make sure you’re targeting the right accounts at the right time.
Ultimately, you’ll want to pull from a diverse range of data sources so that you can understand buyer needs, preferences, and actions in full context.
4. Personalized outreach
Finally, Target Account Selling involves developing personalized outreach campaigns for each account.
At this point, sellers should have access to a wealth of insights, templates, and sales plays that make it easy to quickly generate personalized communications, solutions, and offers for every decision-maker associated with the deal they’re working on.
Unlike more traditional sales models, which tend to focus on velocity and volume (i.e., number of leads generated, deals closed, demos booked, etc.), this strategy focuses on long-term campaigns and continuous engagement.
Cross-functional teams work together to develop a plan that includes which stakeholders they’ll be targeting, which activities they’ll focus on, and for how long. They’ll also determine which metrics to track, depending on sales goals and which channels, plays, and technologies they'll need to execute the game plan.
Done right, TAS campaigns should generate high levels of engagement. Initially, you can measure the efficacy of your strategy by comparing current campaign performance against your pre-TAS engagement numbers.
As you collect more data, you can drill down into individual touchpoints to determine which content and communications were most effective. Over time, the process should get easier.
You can also create templates and sequences that further streamline the process and continue to refine those assets using sales and marketing data, customer feedback, and the rest of the analytics and business intelligence tools in your arsenal.
Operationalize Target Account Selling with Weflow
Operationalizing sales methodologies like Target Account Selling can be hard. Sales reps won’t follow the methodology consistently, and managers won’t enforce it.
This will result in the sales team missing the data that’s needed to successfully manage the success criteria of each opportunity.
Weflow offers note templates that can help streamline the TAS qualification process. It only takes seconds to create a note template that can be reused by your entire team.
Weflow also enables RevOps to set up central pipeline views and field templates to focus reps on fields that need to be populated at each stage of the sales process.
Ready to add Target Account Selling to your sales arsenal? Get started with Weflow today.