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How to Put Your Account Based Sales Development Personas into Action

5 min read
Updated Aug. 24, 2020
Published Apr. 5, 2016

How do we put our Account Based Sales Development personas into action? If you’re new to the ABSD movement, that’s likely the first question that crossed your mind.

You’ve gotten the lowdown on ABSD. You’ve read about the common myths busted by the model, and how it can boost your team’s morale. You’ve even defined what ABSD isn’t. By now, your SDR team should be ready to take the plunge. The C-Suite and Account Executive team buy-in is there — but where do you start?

During one of the top sessions at this year’s Rainmaker conference, TOPO’s Kristina McMillan and Mulesoft’s Steven Broudy, shared their insights on how to navigate the new trend of ABSD, and how to, essentially, not f^@% up the process. But the biggest takeaway people were looking for, was how to take action. So Salesloft VP of Product Strategy Sean Kester sat down again with Kristina and Steven to dive into Account Based Sales Development personas, and where to begin.

According to Steven, here’s the best place to start:

Pick a person, pick an industry, and pick a list of accounts that fit that criteria. There’s technology out there to help you better identify those opportunities… Technology like Salesloft where you actually deliver that sort of personalized messaging at scale.”

-Steven Broudy

Sounds simple… but how exactly do you get started? Who owns the persona building from day one? Let’s say you have a sales development team — twenty people, a director, and some managers. Who owns the defining of the Account Based Sales Development personas? Is it the them? Is it marketing? How do you know who dives in first?

Kristina says there’s no need to wait: “I think if we wait around for one primary owner, it’s probably going to be a messier exercise than it needs to be.” Sure, you need to start with a list of targeted accounts, and many people have simply stopped there and thought that they were done. But ABSD isn’t just a list of accounts that you perform the same old outbound activities from before the transition. But the SDR team needs to step up and define their own personas.

We can define that persona. We can do the digging as sales development leaders for our team.”

-Kristina McMillan

Her best advice on where to dig first? “Go talk to sales. Go talk to the sales reps themselves. Go talk to that internal target, your own CIO. Go talk to customers if you can.” It’s simply gathering that information within the sales development organization, and not relying on marketing to define it for you.

So you’re in good shape — you’ve defined your Account Based Sales Development personas for yourselves. You have a list of all the things they care about. But then what? How do you put it into action?

Kristina suggests focusing on peer based language by finding three pain points and literally write the touch patterns for your team. Start really simple: with one persona. For a CIO of Retail persona, start by writing an 8-12 touch pattern with complimentary calls and other touches. Write each one out like these four:

  1. Send pain-based email.
  2. Send follow up email (to put back at the top of the inbox).
  3. Find value and add content expressing credibility around what they do. (i.e. Top 5 trends for CIOs)
  4. Experience the trigger event…. Something going on in your industry that you can discuss.

You build out that pattern so your team understands how it’s supposed to unfold.”

-Kristina McMillan

But according to Steven, you shouldn’t ignore higher signals and triggers within your Account Based Sales Development personas:

“Just go and put the differentiated messaging in front of them. Don’t be afraid, and don’t be so locked in on getting the right message out there. You’ve got to keep shooting until you hit. Try one sort line of inquiry or one pain point or one pain statement and it doesn’t stick? Change it. You know there’s more than one thing that a CIO cares about, and you’ve sought to understand what that is.”

Try a different approach. Maybe that second one misses, but that third one you put out there may end up sticking.”

-Steven Broudy

One of the biggest culprits in ABSD failure is wearing messaging blinders. People get locked in on getting the perfect statement out, and then give up when it fails. But Account Based Sales Development is a continued process.

“There is no churn,” according to Steven, “If you’ve created a system or a process within which your SDRs can easily churn on and off of accounts, then you aren’t really creating the sort of scarcity where it incentivizes that deep and broad penetration into accounts. It’s critical to create that scarcity and approach it accordingly.”

Moral of the story? Don’t wait to take action on your Account Based Sales Development personas. Don’t wait for marketing to define them — don’t wait on the perfect messaging — just dive in. If you’ve taken the time to select your accounts and get your data ready, then you’re all set to get started with Account Based Sales Development today.

Want more insights on how to know if an Account Based Sales Development approach is right for your organization? Download our free eBook on The What And Why Of Account-Based Sales Development and explore the methods behind the new sales development trend.