Tools & Tactics for Implementing an Effective Account Based Sales Process

Tools and Tactics Implemeneting Account Based Sales

By now, most people are familiar with Account Based Selling. There’s been plenty of great articles on it with all the recent hype so I thought I’d change it up a bit and rather than write a long blog post about why you should go to an ABS model, I thought I’d talk about an effective sales process to use with Account Based Selling and the top 3 types of tools to have to help accelerate your team’s efforts.

1) Prospector

Make it easy for your reps to 1-click import prospects into your CRM from any type of social network that brings in their email and phone number. (Real email and phone number edited out of example below)

Prospector to CRM

Account-Based Selling is ALL about personalization or the WYWYN (why you, why you now methodology). Make your message relevant, personal, and helpful to stand out in the clutter. Notice how easy it is to add a few pieces of personalization while I’m adding the prospect into Salesforce:

Prospect Notes

That ‘Prospect Notes’ section is a field in Salesforce and is going to save me time later with having to do research when it comes to my outreach process.

2) Data Enrichment

Make sure all of your named accounts that you’re assigning to your team have accurate and real-time data. Here at DigitalOcean we know everything about any company in our pipeline from how fast they are growing, funding, monthly uniques, and even what types of hosting technologies they are using.

Data Enrichment

3) Sales Automation Acceleration Platform

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been down the dark hole of sales automation. Make sure that you’re balancing automation and personalization so you’re reaching out in a smarter fashion, rather than just spamming your prospect’s inbox with white noise.

Utilizing a more strategic process by knowing everything about a company you are reaching out to, recent news updates, etc. – we’ve been able to achieve open rates of 75%+ and 40%+ reply rates.

The one piece of advice I can give anyone before selecting your platform is to think about your ICP (ideal customer profile). What is the most effective channel to reach out to them? Is it social networks, is it phone, is it email, or is it a combination of them all?


  1. You’re a SMB SaaS solution selling into mom & pop shops in the restaurant/foods vertical. Utilizing a sales tool that focuses on email automation isn’t going to be the most effective because the highest conversion channel for them is probably not LinkedIn or email and more than likely using the phone number that is found directly on their website or Yelp page is going to be far more effective.
  2. You’re selling into the engineering department at startups with less than 50 employees. Making high volume cold calls might not be the most effective for you because it’s not like you’re selling into the sales or recruiting department that has some sort of a phone system put in place early due to pure necessity: sales folks are using the phone for calls with prospective buyers and recruiters are using the phone for phone screens, etc. Using a platform that focuses on accelerating email efforts is going to be a more effective use case of your time.

With that being said, the platform that we use at DigitalOcean is Outreach.io – their new ‘360 Everywhere’ functionality is incredible and saves my team countless hours every week. It allows you to use the platform where ever you spend most of your time.

Whether it’s Gmail, LinkedIn, or Salesforce – you’re able to directly send messages to your prospect right from that page without having to go to directly to Outreach’s web app. There are lots of different applications in the market which all of have their own competitive advantage depending on your workflow so be sure to check out Yesware, ToutApp, or Salesloft as well.

Here’s an example of an effective outreach process:

Step 1) Do your research on the company prior. Here’s a snapshot below getting a holistic perspective on ‘DigitalOcean’ with a description of the company name, location, funding, technologies used by the company, and recent updates.

Utilizing this information in tandem with personalization research on your prospect is going to drastically increase the chance of them responding positively.

Data Enrichment Sales

Step 2) Personalize the LinkedIn connection. (Shoutout to Jason Vargas at Datanyze for showing me how effective this channel can be). With a tool like Sales Navigator, you’re able to do that directly from Salesforce without even having to open up a new tab and logging into LinkedIn.

Sales Navigator

The reason you want to personalize the invitation is that it stands out from all of the other ‘connections’ from people that you likely have never even met before. See how Abdul below catches my attention with a personalized note in the invitation request. LinkedIn realizes that this is an effective way to communicate with prospects now so they even allow you to reply directly to the invitation.


Connecting with prospects also really helps to get the right contact info if you find yourself with a bounced email. After the connection has been established, you’re able to see their work email (sometimes a personal one) by clicking the ‘Contact Info’ tab.

Kevin Chiu Contact

Contact Info

Step 3) Reach out to the prospect with a personalized note. A great rule of thumb is the 10/80/10 rule. The first 10% of your email should be personalized with content that is relevant to the prospect, with 80% of it being a template, and the last 10% being a personalized call-to-action or a P.S. note.

As you can hopefully see, Account-Based Selling isn’t just about selling smarter or selling faster. It’s about selling smarter AND selling faster. By reaching out to your prospects with personalized outreach, a clear/concise value proposition, timing your touch points, and following up persistently – the results will come.

I recently came across a great post from someone in my network who quotes Keith Krach (CEO of DocuSign) – “Speed is the new currency in business today. It’s not the big that will eat the small, but the fast that will eat the slow.” By having an effective & highly-efficient ABS sales process, you’ll outperform your competitors.

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    • Nice overview @Kevin! I love that you’re emphasizing slowing things down, and being more personalized. It’s so incredibly important in Account Based Selling, because the bigger the accounts are you’re going after, and their subsequent Size Of Prize. Nobody can afford to burn through accounts worth $100k to them.

      On the LI – great mention, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of users leveraging LinkedIn messaging workflows as well, typically with 25-40% response rates, which is pretty insane.

      • Yeah we’re only sending about 25 emails a day per rep now and have a 85% open and 40% reply rate : )

        • Great article, Kev – couldn’t agree more about the LinkedIn messaging piece – you know how much it irks me when sales “professionals” at meet-ups naïvely claim that there’s no value in a personalized LinkedIn note.

          Glad to hear that you’re seeing so much success only sending 25 emails a day per rep, but I don’t want those just starting SDR teams to get the wrong idea.

          In helping build and grow sales teams myself, I’ve seen that it can be super effective to ramp up into 25 e-mails per rep per day, but in the beginning when you’ve only got one or two SDRs, don’t hesitate to complement personalized ’10-80-10′ outreach to DMs with automated “appropriate person?” e-mails to lower-level, non-DM contacts – once these contacts make an introduction, THEN you can spend time personalizing.

          In my experience, it’s all about the balance between automation and personalization, and shifting closer and closer towards full personalization as you continue to penetrate your target market.

          • Great point Brandon. I think that it’s more effective in certain scenarios but all depends on who you’re selling to, your sales cycles, etc. Trying that in the past as well, I can definitely attest to hit helping decrease the sales cycle or getting your main DM engaged faster.

      • Andrew I finally understand how Outreach 360 works !

    • Awesome reply rates Kevin, thanks for writing – I’ve just learned something new on the LinkedIN integration piece.

    • First, great article! Also, the guys are Clearbit are amazing. Anyone reading this post should check them out to see how they can enhance your prospecting or how you can build their API into your product.

      Second, I can attest that we’re seeing similar open and reply rates at atEvent. There’s a lot of fatigue when it comes to broader, general demand gen emails so I’d rather automate as much of our prospecting behavior with tools like Leadspace, Datanyze, LinkedIn Navigator, and Outreach.io (or Yesware/Cirrus Insight), but still take the time to personalize the opening and ending to make that connection.

      My question to everyone is, if you’re meeting leads at marketing events, why are more reps not capturing higher quality lead intelligence at events to leverage in post-event follow-up? You cannot execute on account-based selling if all you’re capturing are names, emails, and phone numbers. You’ve got to enable yourself to bring back the context of sales conversations from live marketing events to ensure your sales and marketing efforts are on target.

    • Kevin – nice article. You guys are doing some great things at Digital Ocean. Would love to learn more about how you are using ClearBit and your thoughts on that. Just added you on twitter, DM me and let’s set something up.

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