Moving from Lead-Based to Account-Based Thinking With Terminus’ Mike Venable
Collin Stewart, CEO
5 April 2018
If you’ve ever been an SDR, you’ll know the feeling – the excitement! – of crushing through a new, long list of leads. A fresh crop of people to talk to, educate on your product or service, and, of course, book meetings with – there can never be too much of this.

Of course, that brand new cohort of leads, while a great way to infuse fresh life into the grind of SDR life, is also a terrific source for new meetings. And, if you’ve ever been an SDR, you know you get comped on the meetings you book.

But, what if your company employs (or is considering employing) and account-based sales and marketing process? What if your company is concerned with selling to specific, high quality accounts and not strictly net new contacts? What does that mean for the awesome, quota-crushing experience of working endless lists of new leads?

According to Mike Venable, Sales Manager at Atlanta’s Terminus, the switch from lead-based thinking to a focus on account-based sales and marketing will initially result in a decrease in activity, and potentially even revenue. But, as was the case with Terminus, the switch can dramatically increase revenue in the long run.

“We had SDRs working 500 contacts, and we worked that down to 100 – 125 accounts. We brought in Everstring as a predictive vendor to help us determine which were the best accounts to go ater. That really helped us revise the account list that we had. So, SDRs had about 100 accounts each,” says Venable, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“For all of us, it was a bit of an uncomfortable time. SDRs had less calling, and AEs had less demos. And, briefly, revenue dipped. But, as we continued to iterate our account-based marketing process, what we saw was that the demos we were getting were progressing faster. Closed business was increasing by 65%. We realized we were definitely on to something.”

Reasons To Go Account-Based

Before delving deeper into Terminus’ evolution into an account-based marketing and sales powerhouse, it’s instructive to discuss why companies, in general, decide to pursue this method of attracting and attacking new business.

Venable says that organizations typically seek out Terminus, which builds a robust platform for B2B marketers to target specific accounts, for three main reasons:

  • An executive at a company has passed down a list of highly desired companies that they expect the marketing and sales departments to contact and close;
  • A company has exhausted its total addressable market and they are looking to go back to the drawing board to devise new methods to engage these accounts;
  • A company is looking to go upmarket and because those SMB accounts aren’t working anymore.

“But, the bottom line, or need, for taking on an account-based marketing and sales strategy is they have a list of accounts they want to break into,” adds Venable. “If that’s the case, they should consider an account-based strategy.”

Terminus’ Evolution

Even though Terminus is in the business of providing others with the tools to perfect account-based marketing, they too have evolved towards the process. 

As mentioned earlier, their SDRs, for instance, used to work hundreds and hundreds of leads. But, over time, terminus shrewdly cut that down to about 100 total accounts (125 max) because those accounts perfectly mirrored its ICP. Why chase everything when you can just help those that could really benefit from your product, right?

So, after the first round of shrinking, and focusing, their target accounts, Terminus embarked a second round to sharpen its account-based focus.

This second iteration consisted of bringing on new technology to help its marketing and sales team understand interest of its targets. The new pieces of software were:

  • Everstring, to help their SDRs gauge the fit of each target account;
  • Bombora, to help their SDRs gauge the intent of each target account;
  • And, the Terminus product itself to gauge the online engagement of each target account.

“At Terminus, we have made a lot of strides in drinking our own Kool Aid here. As a rep here we were getting a lot of unqualified demos. And, we didn’t have a lot of guidance about who to go after,” says Venable. “So, we have made a lot of strides since my early days here about solidifying account based selling.”

The Results

If that all sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Terminus truly sharpened its marketing and sales focus. And by doing so, brought its sales and marketing functions together (account-based sales and marketing depends on that alignment). But although that overhaul took some time and, surely, some missteps, the results have been staggering. 

After Terminus’ first iteration (when they moved it from 500 leads to 100 accounts), they:

  • Increased initial demo to interested opportunity by 84%;
  • Increased interested opportunity to close won by 62%;
  • Increased average deal size by 20%;
  • Decreased sales cycle by 23%.

After Terminus’ second iteration (when they brought on new technology to gauge fit and online behaviour), they:

  • Increased win rate from first demo by 125%;
  • Increase in average deal size by 35%;
  • Decreased sales cycle length by 20 days.

Terminus’ SDR Playbook

So, what effect has this change (and these results) had on the day-to-day of a Terminus SDR? Sure, the company’s evolution has been great for its bottom line, but how has the life of the SDR evolved? Primarily, it has meant more targeted outreach – and a much longer cadence.

Prior to fully embracing account-based sales and marketing, Terminus’ SDR worked a 20-day cadence consisting of email, phone and social touches (amongst of touchpoints). These days, however, Terminus’ SDRs work a much longer, more involved cadence – 50 days longer, to be exact.

That’s right, Terminus now employs a 70-day cadence, consisting of emails, calls, social touches, video prospecting and direct mail outs. For example, each account that turns into an opportunity gets a copy of Account Based Marketing for Dummines, written the company’s CMO. Also, each account is being served targeted ads throughout the sales cycle, to attract and enhance their interest in Terminus.

For instance, representatives at a target account of Terminus will initially be served general ads about account based marketing, selling them on the idea of the method. Those ads are served typically 2 weeks before an SDR begins its outreach.  Once a meeting is booked and a demo held, however, more targeted ards are served to representatives at those accounts.

Those ads may suggest downloading content sharing account-based best practices. It sounds like a lot. But, when you’re working less leads, and focusing on high-value accounts, your reach-out requires more tools and a lengthier, more detailed cadence.

“We noticed we were burning through our total addressable market, so we have had to extend these cadences, stay with them longer, and really expand the activities we were doing. Our SDRs are doing personalized video emails as a personalized intro,” says Venable.

“We have literally every SDR using this. It doesn’t always get us the demo or meeting, but we frequently have people reach out saying how much they loved the video and when they are ready to look at Terminus, they will contact us.”

For more on Venable’s thoughts on account-based sales and marketing, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.