Using Target Account Selling to Close High Value Deals

By
Weflow
·
October 4, 2022

Target account selling, or TAS, is a B2B sales methodology designed to fill your sales funnel with perfect-fit, high-value leads destined to become lifetime customers. 

TAS is a research-intensive process that requires cross-functional teams to create targeted lists of prospective customers, then nurture those target accounts with personalized support throughout the entire buyer’s journey. 

The idea is, 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.  

Now, it’s important to understand that while TAS can deliver some serious returns — it’s not right for every sales situation. 

Below, 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 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 buyer’s journey – 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, who 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. 

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

Target account selling is best-suited for closing large, complex deals with multiple decision-makers and a lot of cash on the line.

TAS 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 five, 10 years. 

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:

  1. Mature data strategy
    According to Gartner, data and intelligence are 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.
  2. Clearly-defined sales goals
    What do you hope to achieve with TAS? Are you trying to speed up long sales cycles? Attract new customers? Sell to existing accounts? It’s important to nail this down ASAP, as your goal(s) will inform your entire approach. 
  3. 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. 

The bottom line is, target account selling is designed for a very specific type of sales org, with a mature data strategy, tight internal alignment, clear goals, and the right set of tools. 

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, target account selling 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. 

That said, the methodology includes four key components, which serve as the foundation for creating personalized TAS 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 ID decision-maker attributes, including:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Location
  • Years in business
  • Budget
  • Revenue
  • 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

That said, 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? And 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/act on a specific opportunity?

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. 

If you’re using Weflow, you can automatically sync notes from customer interviews to accounts, opportunities, and lead records in Salesforce for future reference. Check out the Quick Start guide for more info on how to get started. 

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 ideal buyers within each of the ideal accounts you’ll be targeting. 

Buyer personas typically include information like:

  • Job title
  • Amount of time in role
  • Responsibilities
  • Demographics — age, income, gender, etc.
  • Personality traits
  • Preferred communication methods — social media, email, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.

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. 

Note that you can create reusable templates using Weflow Notes for different personas and scenarios. Templates can be customized to the individual — for that personal touch — but you’re not starting from scratch every time you initiate a conversation.

3. Target Account List

A target account list is the list of pre-qualified 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. Or – if you’re looking for upsell/cross-sell opportunities, use ICP criteria to identify the target accounts that already live inside your CRM. 
  • Use customer feedback/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.
  • ID 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. 

You’ll want to use AI-enabled tools when possible to streamline the process without undermining the quality of your campaigns. You might automate opportunity scoring so you can spend less time manually vetting accounts. Or – enable dynamic personalization tools that make it easy to create content for individual stakeholders based on their preferences, behaviors, and past actions. 

4. Personalized Outreach

Finally, Target Account Selling is 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 (see, this is where that upfront time investment starts to pay off). 

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 on the game plan. 

Below, we’ve included a chart from Gartner-TOPO that includes 77 elements you might include in your TAS framework. 

Source

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, communications, etc. were most effective. Over time, the process should get easier. Sellers get to know and understand potential clients. Using this knowledge, reps can deliver personalized experiences and close on bigger sales. 

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.

Conclusion

Target account selling is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and a full-on cross-functional collaboration. It can be an incredibly effective strategy, but it also takes a great deal of resources and planning to get it right. 

You can use Weflow to implement target account selling or any sales methodology – be it SPICED, MEDDIC, Triangle, or a mashup of your favorites. 

The platform helps sellers work smarter and more effectively – allowing them to close more deals in less time, deliver consistent outcomes, and power long-term growth. Sign up for a free account to get started.