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Shifting Your Sales Process to Account-Based Sales Development: As a Rep

5 min read
Updated Aug. 5, 2021
Published Feb. 12, 2016

Account-based sales development (ABSD) is the biggest buzzword in sales right now. If you follow thought-leaders in the space, by now you’ve read a blog post (or five) explaining what a game-changer ABSD is for your team.

While it is a game-changer, what does it mean for you as an individual Sales Development Rep? What kind of mindset shifts will you have to make as you transition to ABSD?

Think Accounts Over Leads

In the ABSD model, you will no longer be prospecting and chasing down individual leads. Your leadership team will have determined a list of companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile, and you will be assigned specific accounts to work.

This should be a very good thing for you — When done correctly, ALL of your accounts will be qualified. In ABSD, there is no such thing as “unqualified.” In each of your accounts, there are two potential outcomes:

  1. Sucessfully set an initial demo or meeting for the AE
  2. Determine that the account is locked up in contracts (or is 6-12 months away from evaluating your solution)

Only when you have success — or push out the timeline for an account — will you receive a new one. This means that your messaging and strategies within these accounts need to be extremely intentional. Get rid of your breakup email. When you know an account is qualified, you don’t ever want to “break up” with them. If you’re unable to start a conversation with a particular prospect — talk to someone else in the company. You’re not looking for a quick win, you’re building a relationship.

Be Intentional With Your Messaging

In a lead based, greenfield approach, you’re playing a numbers game. Blasting through 50+ leads a day, seeing who shows interest, and knowing that you can add plenty more leads tomorrow if you get a message like this:


That’s not going to cut it in ABSD. If you do your homework, and send messages that resonate, your prospects will not ask you to “unsubscribe” like they would for a fully automated message.

The time you used to spend on prospecting should now be spent on research. Identify the decision maker(s), read the latest news on the company, dive into LinkedIn/Twitter to find a blog post that your contacts have written or shared. Find anything you can leverage to make a connection, and craft your messaging around that.

Become an Expert on the Phone

The research you’ve done ahead of time is crucial for phone calls, as well. When you’re lucky enough to get someone on the phone, you need to be prepared with a deep understanding of the account. Keep in mind that your call volume will likely drop at first, and that’s okay. What will increase is your conversation-to-conversion ratio. The goal here is an intelligent discussion, not a feature dump. What are your prospects goals? How do they intend to hit their numbers this year? How can your solution help them do this?

The ABSD approach is much more consultative. It requires you to have a deep understanding not only of your product, but your industry as well. Become an expert as to where your product fits into your customers’ technology stack. Keep up with your competitors and trends in your space. You need to position yourself as a thought-leader.

Leverage Social Media

Hopefully this doesn’t come as a surprise to: your prospects are googling you, too.

And what do they find? A faceless LinkedIn profile that lists skills you thought were relevant when you graduated? Or an active thought-leader in the space that’s passionate about solving their problems?

Updated LinkedIn and Twitter profiles are crucial to developing relationships in an account-based model. You should be sharing relevant content on a consistent basis, and interacting with your target accounts regularly. Follow them on LinkedIn, like a tweet, comment on a blog post — social touches go a long way in building relationships and initiating conversations.

Focus on Pipeline Contribution Over Number of Demos

Typically, SDRs are measured on the number of qualified opportunities they create for the Account Executive team. But with ABSD, every account you are working should already be qualified. Obviously you want to convert as many of your accounts as possible, but how do you prioritize? All opportunities are not created equal.

What you should be measured on in ABSD? Pipeline contribution.

For example: in your best month as an SDR, let’s say you sent over 40 qualified leads that added $5K MRR to the pipeline. Your quota was to set 25 appointments, so essentially, you had a great month.

But in ABSD, the pipeline contribution number is much more important.

You may only send over 10 of your accounts to the AEs, but you’ve prioritized by opportunity size, and those 10 accounts represent $15K MRR in the pipeline. Pipeline contribution is a much stronger indicator of your effectiveness and value as an SDR.

It’s not easy to change your process, especially if you’ve been crushing your numbers operating from leads. But the most important thing to keep in mind as you make this shift is that your goal is be more effective in driving revenue for the company. You’re fostering strategic relationships as an advocate for your product and brand.

Focus on being intentional with your outreach, and you’ll see your success rates sky-rocket!