Sales Development used to be a numbers game. “Smile and Dial.”

Make enough calls, knock on enough doors, send out enough emails, and eventually, you’d set an appointment. 

The arrival of the digital age changed the platforms, but not the overall strategy: send out enough emails, make enough cold calls, spend enough on ads, and eventually, you’d land an appointment. 

But as Sales Development teams grew and technology was created to support them, it unleashed a spam tsunami on the buyer community. If you could mass email ten people, you could just as easily mass email tens of thousands. 

Concurrently, as Demand Generation became an accepted practice, SDRs spent time sifting through inbound leads looking for anything worth calling. While efficient, it doesn’t allow for specific targeting. 

For some companies, especially targeting Enterprise accounts, instead of the traditional spray-and-pray system, they have taken a laser-focused approach to crack into new accounts. 

Enter the world of Account-Based Sales Development.  

Sales Development and the Big Fish

At its simplest, Account-Based Sales Development is a technique that targets accounts identified as a best-fit and highest return. It’s personalized marketing for an audience of one account. 

It eschews casting a wide net in favor of precision fishing using bait specifically chosen for a single target.  As Jon Miller puts it, it’s spearfishing versus net fishing. 

And while it may seem like putting all your eggs into one proverbial basket, it can be very profitable and lucrative if you’ve done your homework. According to the Alterra Group:

  • 97% of marketers achieve a higher return-on-investment from Account-Based initiatives than any other approach
  • Sales Development produces 208% more revenue in businesses with strong alignment between Marketing and Sales departments

The nitty-gritty details may differ, but Account-Based Sales Development has five components in common across the board:

  1. Targeted, high return accounts
  2. High levels of cooperation between marketing, Sales Development, sales, and customer success teams
  3. Data is the engine that drives the machine
  4. Buyer experiences are tailor-made
  5. Coordinated, frequent, and active outreach

Companies using account-based methods at every stage of the customer life cycle can often limit their focus to up to 1000 accounts (38%) or even fewer than 100 (13%). 


Fewer accounts mean more time and energy that can be devoted to each one. And that’s typically the difference between success and failure in modern marketing and sales: the personal touch. 

To that end, 80% of marketers and reps say Account-Based Sales Development improves customer lifetime values, and 86% report it increases win rates. 

The Account-Based Quickstart Guide

Account-Based Sales Development can be boiled down to three broad steps:


Step1: Target Accounts

You want to design your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) — a hypothetical description of the kind of company that would benefit most from whatever it is you’re selling — at this stage. Once you have that, go find them amongst your existing accounts and out in the real world. 

Step 2: Research Those Accounts

Once you’ve zeroed in, you can drill down on each one’s specific wants, needs, and challenges, creating unique experiences and outreach based on that data.

Step 3: Find the Gatekeepers

Which individuals at each business need to be involved in a purchase decision? What is each one looking for in a solution? Whereas your ICP is a fictionalized description of a company, here you’ll create a buyer persona for each decision-maker within it. 

Armed with those, you can craft your Sales Development outreach for the best chance of getting each to say ‘yes’ to you and your solution. 

The devil’s in the details, of course, but that’s it in a nutshell.

In the age of Big Data, automation, and digital communication platforms, you really can’t afford not to take the account-based approach. Stand out. Market and create for a target of one rather than thousands. 

Not sure where to start? Contact us at Tenbound for a no-obligation exploratory call for more details on this and other Sales Development strategies. 

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