May 1st, 2018 | by
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Account based sales development is a sales process specifically designed for selling to enterprise companies.

The process for selling into enterprise accounts differs from selling to small and mid-sized businesses: The key difference is that with account-based selling, reps sell to the account as a whole – in other words, instead of selling to individuals, they are selling to multiple stakeholders.

This makes sense when selling to enterprise companies, since the bigger the corporation, the more decision makers are generally involved in the buying process. In fact, a survey of 5,000 stakeholders involved in making B2B purchases found that an average of 5.4 B2B buyers have to give the thumbs up before a purchase can go through.

When we think about selling at this level, it’s often boardroom presentations that come to mind. While it’s not wrong to assume that those sorts of interactions play a key part further down the funnel (especially when selling high-ticket items), what about making those initial connections?

Cold-calling can be very effective for individuals – but how can you effectively target multiple stakeholders at the top of the funnel?

The answer? Cold email.

Cold email typically entails targeting one person at one company, meaning that the tactic can often be overlooked when designing an account-based strategy … but sales reps that do that are missing a trick. Cold email most certainly should be incorporated into an account-based sales strategy.

Here are 5 simple steps to do it – no cold email script needed.

1. Learn about your prospects

One of the first steps in any cold emailing campaign is prospecting – and the same is true for your account-based sales strategy.

In order to build relationships and connect with prospects, you first need to invest time in learning everything you can about them to better inform your next moves. Learn as much as possible about your targets in each level of the decision-making process.

Information needed for outreach

Even though you’re selling to a pre-identified group of decision makers in the enterprise, you’re still dealing with individuals, so it’s well worth taking the time to learn a little about who those people are.

This will probably include, at minimum:

  • Their name, email address, and phone number
  • Their social media profiles
  • A few key facts about their personal interests that you can pick up from a quick look at those social profiles
  • Their job title and more importantly, what their role entails
  • Where they come into the decision-making process (for example, some individuals may be tasked with talking to sales reps and filtering out products and services accordingly – only those who make the cut are seen by the true decision makers)

In the example below, DiscoverOrg’s Sr. Director of Demand Gen took some time to research the prospect’s target market and possible ideal customers, and included a few contacts that fit the description:

account-based-email-examples

One key thing to remember is to be disciplined with your time. As nice as it would be to draw up a detailed picture of every prospect, it’s just not practical (especially when you have to repeat the process for multiple individuals at each business).

In order to do this, you might want to follow what’s called the five-by-five method (or if the clock’s ticking, the three-by-three method). This simply means limiting your research time to five minutes (or three) per person, and if you do decide to contact them, five minutes (or three) crafting a message.

This is usually enough time to figure out whether or not it’s worth trying to talk to someone, and it helps you manage your time more effectively.

2. Personalize your cold email

After learning everything you can about your targets, the next step is to use that information to create and send them personalized cold emails.

Unlike a traditional cold email outreach strategy – where you typically email a single person at an organization – cold email used as part of an account-based sales strategy means sending individualized cold emails to multiple people at the same organization.

The challenge is streamlining the process of personalizing these messages.

Using the right tool is key here.

Mailshake makes it really easy to develop cold email campaigns. You can select from a number of tried-and tested templates, or you can write your own. You can segment users (for example, you might segment according to industry, a contact’s position in the company, or even by the business itself). You can also personalize templated emails using industry-specific messaging, known pain points, or individual job titles, based on insights gathered earlier in process.

Here’s a good example of email personalization from one of DiscoverOrg’s Sales Development Reps:

account-based-cold-email

3. Follow up

Your approach needs to change somewhat when following up. You need to anticipate why someone wouldn’t respond, and segment your email sequences and follow-up emails in line with how their specific role within an organization plays into this.

For example, an individual right at the top might not respond because they’re busy, and will only talk to sales reps who are introduced to them by decision makers that sit below them in the organization’s hierarchy.

Someone who regularly makes first contact with sales reps, however, may not respond because of time constraints, your email’s failure to depict how your product’s a fit for their company, or simply the fact that it’s not their department.

cold-email-follow-up-prospect

These are things you need to acknowledge in follow-up emails, and use to guide your emails’ content when crafting templates.

Bear in mind that this doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as it might sound. If you use Mailshake to segment campaigns according to role, you can create email sequences that will automatically send follow-up emails to prospects who haven’t replied.

You can also simplify the process of figuring out where a prospect sits in a company’s organization using org charts.

Cold email CTAs

CTAs are something else to consider when crafting follow up-emails. What do you want a prospect to do after they’ve read your email?

Odds are, you’re going to want to include two CTAs in this type of email:

  1. Are you free for a 10-minute chat? (Better yet, suggest a few specific dates and times).
  2. If you’re not the right person to speak to, who is?

You’ll also need to decide how many times you should follow up. While there’s no set rule here (ask 5 people how many times you should follow up on a cold email, and you’ll probably get 5 different answers) 3 to 5 follow-up emails is a good rule of thumb.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to send each follow-up at a different time of day: you have no way of knowing when a prospect is most likely to be responsive. And gradually increase the amount of time between follow-ups with each one.

4. Add value with your email (or attachments)

It’s safe to assume that the majority of individuals within an organization – particularly those you’re going to want to speak to – are flooded with cold emails every day. This means you have to figure out how you’re going to stand out.

One way to do this is to add value to emails by including things like content pieces or resources that solve that person’s pain points.

This works because not only are you providing something of value to a prospect, but you’re showing that you’ve done your homework and really do understand their needs and how your product can meet them.

Just make sure that the content is personalized for the person and the role – you would never send SDRs the same content that you would to managers, for instance, even though they work at the same company.

5. Leverage responses and analyze results

The ultimate purpose of your account-based strategy is to drive decision-makers to a single CTA: get them on the phone.

Not all stakeholders at an organization are going to respond – so how does who responds affect your strategy from here?

Last step: Use success rates to determine what happens with your cold email templates. Those that are getting a great response rate can be used again, and those aren’t can be ditched for something more effective. (If you can achieve a 20% response rate, you’re doing very well!)

You analyze results based on how successful you were at getting key figures in an organization on a call, and use this information to further refine and personalize communication to improve your results going forward.

Do you have any other ideas for cold email tactics that can be used in an account-based sales strategy?

Let us know in the comments below.

Sujan Patel
About the author

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. In addition to running his marketing agency Sujan is also a partner at a handful of SaaS businesses, including Quuu.co, Narrow, Linktexting.com & Mailshake. His SaaS companies help 10,000+ marketers scale their social media, mobile marketing and content marketing efforts.