The ins and outs of account-based

and persona-based sales:

Part 5 of Predictable Revenue’s

outbound sales learnings

from 2018

Collin Stewart, CEO

17 June 2019

At Predictable Revenue, we’re surrounded by all things sales – all the time. Yet, somehow, it never ceases to amaze us just how many new, nuanced, and, frankly, mind-blowing sales concepts we learn about each day.

Case in point: the constant evolution of account-based and persona-based sales. Although these methods have emerged as dominant forces in today’s sales landscape, these practices continue to evolve and adapt.

For example, maybe you’re just ramping up your sales team for the first time, and want to establish the right foundation before the team get too large. Or, maybe you’ve enjoyed rocket-fuelled some growth, but now want to standardize your processes to promote more predictability.

Regardless of what you need to help propel your sales journey, the detailed (painstaking, even) methods outlined in our fifth e-book by renowned industry leaders will support you and your team. There truly is an account-based framework for every business out there.

And it’s awesome.

The featured podcast guests in this e-book include:

Below is just a small sample of what you can expect to get from a few of these in-depth interviews:

Morgan J. Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at JBarrows Sales Training

If you’ve ever been on the frontlines of sales development, you know the importance of understanding the roles and business motivations of the people you prospect to.

Unfortunately, all too often a comprehensive process to address a company’s buyer personas is left unfulfilled. Sure, there may be some information in an onboarding document, and some training sessions on who the target(s) are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, buyer personas should be clear and well defined, says Morgan J. Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at JBarrows Sales Training. All it takes is a bit of patience, research, and meticulous organization.

According to Ingram, drafting those critical persona sketches is initially determined by the maturity of your organization. For example, if you work for a large or mid-size organization, you probably have a good idea of who buys from you, and why. In that case, Ingram suggests publishing a persona-based document for the company. If you don’t know your personas, you’re going to have to do a lot of A/B testing to figure out who is resonating with your outreach.

And once you have the personas defined, it’s time to use them. In your prospecting tool (whatever it may be), Ingram suggests building individual cadences for each of the personas you’ve researched. This is a critical point: you want those unique cadences because personas often have different motivations or use different language, and your messaging should reflect those distinct characteristics.

Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach

As any good treasure hunter or pirate will tell you, simply reaching the all-important “X” on the map isn’t the end of the line. You want to uncover treasure – so you got to do some digging.

Customer engagement juggernaut Outreach uses this treasure hunting template as the blueprint for its discovery process. Sales teams hunt for their prospect’s pain points (the X), and when they find them, they illustrate how they relieve that pain and create a need for their product.

But unlike many sales teams that use SDRs to handle a sizable chunk of the discovery phase, Outreach engages it’s Account Executives early in the process. That means AEs often get on calls with prospects knowing little of the company they are speaking with, but that near-blank slate allows for AEs to ask specific questions, discover pain, and hone in topics they know will yield important information.

Some of those questions might be:

  • What sales roles does the prospect’s company have?
  • Are they hiring new sales team members?
  • Are they an inbound- or outbound- focused organization?

Along the sales process, most salespeople are trained to pause and check to make sure prospects are digesting the avalanche of information and questions coming at them. The trouble is, often that pause comes with all-too-simple questions like: ‘does that make sense?’

And those questions produce a simple answer: ‘yes.’ No one wants to admit they don’t understand something.

Instead, Outreach reps use a method called “diagnose and confirm,” where they repeat what the prospect has told them to confirm if they’ve gotten it right. This is a shrewd tactic because it prompts a response, regardless of whether the rep is right or has misunderstood the prospect.

“Diagnose and confirm helps to correct and get new information. It’s great,” says Kosoglow.


Derek Grant, VP of Commercial Sales at SalesLoft

In the seemingly ever-growing tech sales universe, account-based sales has risen to a (if not the) dominant method guiding and propelling growth teams. And that ascension is due to the in-depth involvement of marketing teams in account based selling, according to Derek Grant, VP of Commercial Sales at Atlanta’s SalesLoft.

SalesLoft, admits Grant, hasn’t always employed a nuanced account-based sales process. In fact, in the company’s early days, it was quite the opposite.

But even after they committed themselves, says Grant, designing the method they would use did not come easy. It was only after a lot of trial and error that Salesloft designed its nuanced, tiered system that outlines how they deploy their account-based sales process.

Their tiered system is comprised of three levels:

  • ICP 1 – this represents about 1% of their total accounts (these are the accounts SalesLoft will do anything to get)
  • ICP 2 – Top 25% of accounts
  • ICP 3 – Remaining 75% of accounts

So…how does it work? Each one of these tiers has a component of marketing activity, which drops in intensity from ICP 1 to ICP 3 (ICP 1 comes with a lot of marketing collaboration, while ICP 3 doesn’t and is handled in a mostly programmatic fashion).

What does that marketing collaboration look like on SalesLoft’s top-tier accounts? It’s detailed…to say the least. Just some of the collateral marketing helps SalesLoft’s reps with are:

Demand Generation:

  • Cadences built out for multiple personas
  • LinkedIn ads
  • Terminus ads
  • Account-specific landing pages

Pipeline Velocity

  • Personalized videos
  • Custom swag / direct mail
  • Automated web personalization

Closing / Pilot Support

  • Sponsored pilot team lunch and learns
  • Executive-level, account specific direct mail
  • Competitive programs for differentiation

“I think having marketing and sales aligned on one account, and doing anything to get that account, is really, really powerful. The accounts you’re going after are IBM, SAP, the accounts that beget other accounts,” says Grant.

And there’s plenty more where that came from. To get all the in-depth details from each of these expert interviews, click here to download our e-book now!