A couple of months ago I hit my personal record for 51k unread emails in the inbox. Impressive, right? While that’s not something to be proud of, sadly, it’s a common problem I see fellow founders and C-suite leaders face.
We can blame sales reps and bash mass cold emails all we want. The reality is that cold outreach is still an effective prospecting channel. The right message that reaches the right person at the right time can do wonders. The key here is to do it RIGHT.
We’ve had a few lessons learned as well as some wins while trying to build our own sales process at Flowla from scratch. And we would like to share our 5-step guide to power up your cold outreach efforts and win more new clients with account-based selling.
Why go account-based?
If there’s one thing we know about cold outreach in 2024 is that a spray-and-pray approach doesn't work anymore. And it’s not just because the email providers’ limits getting stricter, most of us — the recipients — are simply fed up with generic, aggressive outreach that brings no value.
There are thousands of templates, tactics, and tools to make cold outreach effective. Yet, the majority of the sales reps will simply blast a slightly personalized AI-generated email sequence at a few thousand emails they got from ZoomInfo or Apollo and call it a day.
The studies make it clear: Buyers long for genuine, personal connections.
According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect B2B companies to deliver personalized content and interactions and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
Research by Gartner shows that organizations that focus their personalized messaging around helping customers can expect 16% more impact on commercial outcomes than those that don't.
And every relationship starts with the initial contact. The way you connect with the prospect often defines the outcomes of the deal. In fact, the B2B Sales Benchmark Report 2023 by Ebsta cites a B2B company that focused on building great engagement, with key personas in your target audience, at specific stages and was able to improve their sales process velocity by 162% and saw 31% more sales reps achieve quota as a result.
Knowing your personas inside out and tailoring your value proposition accordingly is the foundation of any successful B2B sales strategy, but it’s even more important for account-based selling.
How does account-based selling work?
Unlike traditional inbound marketing or sales tactics, account-based selling is a strategic approach that relies on more focused, personalized interactions with the target accounts (companies). So instead of casting a wide net, a sales team zeros in on specific accounts, tailoring messages to meet their unique pain points, specific needs, and preferences.
Simply put, rather than sending a thousand impersonal cold emails, try to connect with 50 accounts that are a good fit and make it count.
Here's how it works. A sales team starts by carefully selecting high-value accounts that align with the company's ideal customer profile. Once identified, they craft relevant content and tailored messages designed to resonate with the specific challenges, goals, and even communication styles of each of your key accounts. This personalized content can then be delivered through various channels, including emails, social media, targeted ads, and direct outreach.
But it doesn’t end there. Closely monitoring your interactions with target accounts throughout the buying process, allows you to gain valuable insights for ongoing optimization of outreach strategies. As a result, account-based prospecting ensures that resources are efficiently directed toward what matters most to the potential customers, leading to higher conversion rates, increased revenue, improved customer success, and better retention.
Our 5-step guide to account-based outreach
If your sales team could use some account-based marketing magic in their outreach efforts like this, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve been there too and had to figure out how to make it work the hard way. But we did it (and added some twist to it with our own tool) which allowed us to double the number of new clients pretty quickly and build strong relationships with them.
Now, we’re happy to share our hands-on guide to account-based outreach with anyone willing to give it a try. Let’s explore it, step by step.
1. Know your key accounts
Start with a comprehensive analysis of your ideal customer profile (ICP). Understand the characteristics that make a target company an ideal fit for your product or service, like industry, company size, location, funding, etc. This information will help you not just make your ABM strategy more relevant but also personalize your buyer's journey down the road.
You can tap into the data in your CRM software or other analytics tools to see which of your high-value accounts bring the most revenue and have the best retention rate.
💡 Make sure the target accounts also align with your business objectives. Pay attention to criteria like the relevance of your solution to their needs, the likelihood of a long-term partnership, and their potential impact on your business.
2. Find the new accounts to target
Once you know who you should pursue with your outreach efforts, you can start building your target account list. There are tons of tools and tactics to do that, so we won’t get into detail here. Just pick the data source you trust, be it ZoomInfo, LinkedIn, or anything else.
One important thing here is to focus on accounts — companies — first, rather than looking for individual prospects. Once you find enough matching organizations, you can do another round of research to pinpoint the best person to contact (considering the info about your buyer personas like department, role, etc.).
💡 You can go after the decision-makers right away or pick one of the other key stakeholders as your initial point of contact. It’s often recommended to establish strong relationships with the champions first of all.
3. Craft a custom outreach cadence
Tailor your ABM campaign to address the unique needs and challenges of each target account. This involves understanding the specific pain points they face and customizing your value proposition accordingly.
Create personalized messaging that speaks directly to the identified buyer personas within the organization. Well-crafted cold outreach not only establishes a connection but also showcases the relevance of your product or solution.
Build your cadence using touchpoints across email, LinkedIn, or any other channels your buyers prefer. This is a topic for a separate guide, so I won’t get into too much detail on marketing automation and sequencing here.
💡 Sending a custom flow is a great way to elevate your ABM campaign or sales outreach efforts in general. You can incorporate dynamic, personalized content and messaging within your flows, ensuring that the information you share is always relevant and engaging.
4. Identify other stakeholders
Monitor the responses and engagements generated by your initial outreach. If a prospect forwards your email or shares your flow with their team members, it's a valuable cue that multiple people may be involved in the buying process.
Keep in mind that the buying committee often includes not just the key decision-makers, but also other stakeholders — different buyer personas each caring about different things and dealing with different challenges. Use this information to your advantage and engage those additional stakeholders with multithreading. Target them with personalized marketing efforts, acknowledging their role in the decision-making process.
💡 Flowla makes it easy to collaborate with key stakeholders and see who’s involved in the buying process with our Social Bar and contact enrichment capabilities.
5. Use your insights
Utilize the insights provided by your sales engagement platform, CRM, or Flowla to identify certain buying signals, track engagement levels, time spent on the flows, or other valuable insights related to your outreach efforts.
For example, the strongest signs of an interested prospect we have seen with our flows are when they:
Check out all of the steps
Spend a long time on the flow
Send the flow to other key stakeholders
Come back to the flow on different days
These signals can give you a good opportunity for the next follow-up (and make it feel more organic) with your qualified leads. Angle your approach based on what they were the most interested in to keep it personal.
💡 Take it a step further: Call your qualified leads exactly after they check your flow and mention what they looked at. It's a great opening line!
Account-based prospecting case study
Now, let’s take a look at one of our recent campaigns using this approach to put what we’ve shared into perspective. The target company for this campaign was a fintech startup.
We shared the link to a custom flow within our cold email and saw that Viewer 1 (our prospect) shared the flow with 9 colleagues. So now we know the size of their buying committee and can look up the key stakeholders to target along with our initial contact.
Moreover, you can see that all of them spent time on the flow checking EVERY STEP. This is a clear signal of interest. Specifically, a total of 6 viewers spent most of their time on the demo step. With this info, we can do a custom follow-up to further engage the buying committee.
Another interesting trend that we noticed was that some viewers came back to the flow at different times. Following up with each key stakeholder while they are on the flow is a perfect opportunity to add momentum to your deal.
Pro tip: Reusing flows
When reaching out to several people from the same company, you can use the same flow. Simply add a short personalized welcome video to the cover page, use their name as a variable, or customize it using the target company logo and corporate colors. It's a nice, personal touch that takes very little effort.
One of the key trends of 2023, the challenge of standing out with your cold outreach makes it nearly impossible to cut through the noise with traditional marketing campaigns and cookie-cutter personalization tactics.
The growing emphasis on relationship building in sales requires a new strategy. Account-based selling can help you build a reliable pipeline with relatively low effort, thanks to precise targeting and a tailored engagement with each stakeholder.
Use this 5-step account-based outreach strategy to connect with your ideal customers, engage the right stakeholders, and win more clients.
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