Account planning, messaging, and the myth of missing quota

Meet and beat your sales quota every month with the help of account-based planning. Here are 8 tips on how to handle fresh accounts - filled with messaging guidelines and email templates. Take a look!

account based prospecting

“I’ve run out of accounts.”

“My territory is horrible."

“I don’t have any good accounts.”

How many times have you heard the above statements from sales reps? If you have, then let me tell you that I’ve been in the same boat as them. When my managers pointed out that there's a much deeper reason behind missing my quota - I was baffled! Let me tell you why.

Because as it turns out, crushing your quota rarely has anything to do with your territory, and account quality if capacity planning is done correctly. However, it has a lot to do with your account planning, messaging, and the volume you choose to go with.

We’ll go over some strategies, ideas, and my exciting experience with Account-Based Prospecting/Account-Based Sales Development.

Peeling the Onion

You should be the CMO of your own territory. To know everything about your territory, peel the onion and consume the bite-sized data (pun intended) to make sense of how to group things according to your target market, Ideal Client Profile (ICP) fitment, and customer success.

Creamy Love

Every time I get a new account book for the year, I handpick the cream - the verticals that have worked for us, huge brands, competition to our customers, and companies who can resonate with our success stories.

I put these accounts into a target bucket that I won’t be touching so easily, as I want to put in my best effort for these accounts. I then research about their SDR Director’s high school girlfriend who is now the CEO in my customer account - wait, that’s not always true. I actually do a lot more research :)

Due to the effort that goes into this bucket, I’m very choosy about the accounts. Hence, I don’t add more than 3-5% of net new accounts in my Total Addressable Market(TAM).

Haven Greenfield

Anytime I’m handed a new account book, I end up having a lot of accounts that are never touched. These accounts will go into my first bucket of outreach because I love walking into an account that’s never turned Outplay down. Some positivity to start with.

Since these accounts are mapped to my name on Salesforce, I create a report for all the accounts that don’t record any activity.

Given how these accounts have never heard about your company, now’s your chance to make the best first impression. You can do so by personalizing 10% of the first few lines as well as the last few lines of your email. Personalization at scale would help you cover more air, sound more human, and still help you save time, all through the wonders of automation.

Group Bushels

Your prospects want you to speak their language but of course, finding their language is difficult. Do you relate to this? Well, here’s the thing. You probably have customer success stories in that vertical - with similar use cases, list of competition, etc. Your customer success team will be your go-to repository to help you acquire this information. Find those apples and group them with other apples in your TAM. You can form a common message and clone it across the company.

Celebrity Fandom

I once had a huge account that had an employee size of 4-5k. They were using one of our competitor’s products which started to lose a lot of momentum because it was too unmanageable and difficult to use. Here’s how I started the email:‍

Hi Martha - let me guess, reporting in X is not exactly a walk in the park, is it?

{{inserted a custom GIF I made from YouTube videos for her}}

This is how our reporting looks like. Would you be open to a chat after comparing this to what you already have with X? Let me know.

Best,
Sri

When you have huge brands you definitely want to break into, resist the need to treat them like just another account in your list.

Suggested Reading: Free eBook on how to build an account-based prospecting campaign from scratch

Deep Pitfalls

The minute we start giving dead-end deals and booking irrelevant meetings with wrong ICPs, our AE's, and Managers would start resenting us for two things - wasted time and efforts.

You’re sifting through your accounts on Sales Navigator, and you see this account on Page 8 with their name in all caps - they are your ICP according to the playbook but have a horrible website, broken backlinks, and everything possible to drive their inbound leads to the competition. What do you do? Do you add them to show irrelevant activity for your manager or do you leave them alone for everyone’s peace of mind?

As someone selling Sales Engagement Platforms to help salespeople sell better with more context, efficiency, and productivity, I would definitely recommend unqualifying these accounts. They are huge red flags for me because there are cultural problems with modernization in technology and selling experiences.

What if you lose out on an opportunity because you didn’t target them? Well, that might be a lost opportunity for sure, but, I believe that it’s a small cost to pay for prioritizing your outbound resources and time.

Prioritizing Personalization and Messaging

Here’s the thing - you cannot personalize all the time. As much as I’d love to find some unrelated high-school puppy love to personalize, it takes too much time for very little returns. Prioritize Personal over Personalization. Here’s what I mean by this:

Personal Messages

Hi {{firstname}} - Looks like you hired SDRs in the last 90 days. What is your 30-60-90 day plan to ramp them up?

We just helped Acme Inc’s SDR leaders get their new hires up-to-date, help them set up messaging, and induct them quicker than ever on how to use a new Sales Engagement Platform.

You can even get a sneak peek of the best sequences that worked for them.

Would it make sense to explore how our tool can help your remote hires ramp up quicker?

Best,
Sri

This email can be sent to every B2B SaaS company that has hired SDRs in the last 90 days with zero personalization. Hence, we can achieve scalability with no pain.

Personalized Messages

Hi {{firstname}} - noticed you liked Josh Braun’s post on diffuse-discover-discuss. But how are you sharing these best practices with your team so that they get tested? On Slack? Email DL? Screen share on group Zoom calls?

Sales Leaders at Wayne Enterprises are now using new technology to get their sales and marketing teams on the same page with the help of messaging, following the best practices suggested by leaders like Josh, and getting their remote hires familiar with customer lingo faster [they didn’t even have to write their own sequences].

Open to learning what this is?

Best,
Sri

This email can only be sent to X. Thus, we end up facing scalability problems.

If you’re choosing between personalized and personal messaging, go for the latter, as all you need to do is find the right company and leader to whom you want to send the email. Automation will take care of everything else.

I’m not discouraging personalization in any manner. I’m just saying it’s not a scalable solution to a huge TAM with thousands of accounts. The returns from sending ‘personal messages’ are relatively similar, provided the pain points are explained accurately.

Importance of Recycling

If you are like me, then you’re probably not someone who blasts emails to tens or thousands of contacts a month just to get 3-4 opportunities. Blasting emails is usually termed irrelevant and is classified as an insignificant method of outreach, but apart from that, what I don’t understand is, what happens after you send the blast?

Say your cadence runs for 2-weeks. All your contacts have finished the sequence. Do you sit and wait for the next 3-4 months before you can start reaching out again?

This is why account planning is very important: You plan for the year, not the month(s). You run targeted outbound campaigns and nurture campaigns along the way that is relevant to your target audience.

Persona and use-case-based outbounds plus nurture campaigns have worked too well for me. If two companies have very similar sales processes and strategies, I’ll group them together and send the same message across. You can then clone this message and send it to your target audience.

Your Secret Outplayer

We recently played a ‘Secret Santa’ like event at Outplay because it’s “Always Christmas at Outplay.” Since we haven’t gifted you anything, yet (our customers & prospects), here’s our gift to you:

We’ll be coming up with some very specific Account-Based Sales Development and Account-Based Prospecting capabilities inside Outplay. Sign-up for free to stay updated!

Doesn’t that solve a lot of problems? I can’t wait!

If you'd like to learn more about account-based prospecting and want to kickstart your sales with ABP, we have a handy guide for you that'll help you build your campaign straightaway: I'd like a FREE copy!