The right number of accounts in each tier of your Account Based Everything (ABM + Account Based Sales and Sales Development) program will depend on many factors, including:
- Your expected deal sizes
- The length of the sales cycle
- Your available sales resources
- Your current level of engagement with major prospects
- The intensiveness of your account-based strategy
Then it’s a matter of applying your available resources intelligently. “The challenge is to scale your ABM program so that you can address internal requests from the sales team, but at the same time not lose the unique approach of ABM and revert back to the traditional kinds of marketing,” says Jeff Sands of ITSMA, “Salespeople are highly competitive, and when they start to see their peers succeed in implementing a strategy like ABM, they want to jump on that bandwagon really fast. You have to make sure you scale appropriately.”
A Sample Calculation
One approach is to start with the available selling time for each sales rep:
75% selling time x 2,000 hours a year = 1,500 hours
You can then apply those hours to the estimated time required to cover the different size accounts. For example, if you decide that your selling times per account look like this:
- Global Enterprise: 250 to 750 hours per account per year
- Named Account (Large): 75 to 250 hours per account
- Named Account (Average): 30 to 75 hours per account
- Smaller Accounts (Non-named): 10-30 hours per account
Then you’d see just how many of each size account your 1,500 hours can support:
- 2-6 Global Enterprises, or
- 6-20 Large Named Accounts, or
- 20-50 Average-Sized Named Accounts, or
- 50-150 Small Named Accounts (or even more if your sales cycles require even fewer hours)
The right number can also be any combination of these sizes that don’t exceed 1,500 selling hours per sales account representative.
Calculation for SDRs
According to industry analyst TOPO, the ideal number of accounts per Sales Development Rep is 88 at a time. The question is, how often can you contact a given account? Assuming every six months is the right frequency, then the right total number of accounts is 6 x 88 = 528… or about 500 accounts per SDR.
Across a sample of Engagio customers, the median number of accounts per account owner is 50. Quite a few Engagio customers have a lower number, 20 to 30 accounts per account owner, and quite a few have 100 or more accounts per owner.
No Right Answer
The reality is that there’s no one right answer for how many target accounts you should have. As J.J. Kardwell of EverString says, “The right number of accounts per rep varies widely based on things like average deal size and the dynamics of the sales cycle. We’ve seen 200 accounts per rep and 10 accounts per rep.”
It’s all a question making sure marketing and sales are aligned on how many accounts you have in each tier.
Last, but not least, recognize that Account Based Everything take time. Once you’ve chosen your list of target accounts, stick with it for longer than you may feel is right.
Sales reps may overreact to bad news and want to take an account off the list. But persistence can pay off. Just because an account is not ready to buy right now doesn’t mean they should be removed from your ABE program.
Tip: don’t turn over more than 25% of your list each quarter. If your turnover is greater than that, you may be abandoning the ship too quickly.
How many accounts do you have per account owner?