9 Questions to Ask When Selecting Accounts for your Account Based Everything Program

Imagine you’re planning a road trip from Boston to San Mateo to start your new job at the country’s hottest startup (Engagio, right?). You’ve got one week to get there. You need to figure out which roads to take to arrive on time, avoiding delays, construction, bad weather, and making sure to hit all the hot stops along the way.

(Pro tip: the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is in Cawker City, Kansas.)

You need a plan that makes the most of your time and the best use of your gas tank. This planning process is the most critical part of your trip.

So, which route do you take?

Just like mapping out your road trip, your journey to a successful account-based strategy depends on your ability to map out your list of target accounts correctly. When it comes to Account Based Everything, account selection is critical.

In fact, poor account selection is the biggest mistake you can make.

After all, the whole point of Account Based Marketing is to focus your efforts on high-value accounts that have the greatest revenue potential. Get this right, and you’ll maximize your return. Get it wrong, and you’ll either miss major opportunities, waste resources on the wrong account, or both. Time, headcount, and budget are all tangible and measurable resources that you can’t afford to waste.

No pressure.

Ask these 9 questions when selecting your target accounts:

According to the ITSMA, “ABM account selection is the result of a prioritization process that takes into account both the attractiveness of individual accounts and your organization’s relative strength as a potential supplier.”

This process is all about coming up with the right characteristics within your Ideal Customer Profile, and will ultimately define a subset of your entire addressable market that reflects the characteristics of your best prospects and customers.

The questions that guide the process include:

  1. Where have we sold most effectively in the past?
  2. Which kinds of accounts have proven most profitable over time?
  3. Which sub-industries do we work with today?
  4. What characteristics are most predictive of sales success?
  5. What attributes make for the best fit with our product?
  6. What traits should rule out an account?
  7. What kind of accounts play best to our unique strengths?
  8. Which accounts do we already have an advantage in?
  9. What accounts deliver the most value (including strategic value)?

Mind your F & T’s

When searching for the answers to these questions and defining your target account list for Account Based Everything (ABE), you’ll want to include both firmographic and technographic information as part of your Ideal Customer Profile.

  • Firmographic information includes details such as size, number of employees, industry, growth, number of locations, and more.
  • Technographic data tells you what technologies the company currently uses.

In addition, intent and engagement information will help to identify in-market and highly engaged accounts that should be prioritized by your efforts. Combine these attributes and you’re on your way to identifying Marketing Qualified Accounts.

“It’s incredibly important to pick your accounts wisely,” says Sam Laber, of sales intelligence company Datanyze, “You’re only going to have the bandwidth to effectively work a certain number of accounts. And if you pick the wrong ones, you’re going to be wasting your team’s time on leads that won’t amount to anything.”

Like I said, no pressure.

For more information on how to build your Account Based Everything strategy, download The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.

Got another question to add to the list?


Jon Miller
Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and founder of Engagio. Previously, Jon was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and is on the Board of Scripted and is an advisor to Optimizely and Newscred. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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