The perfect storm of innovation is brewing, as the waves of B2B sales and marketing are clashing and giving way to more effective business development. It’s time to buckle up for the ride or risk being tossed overboard.

The signs have all been there. In the last decade, there’s been a transformation in the way we do business. The people, processes and technologies that create and convert opportunities have changed more than ever before.

Marketers were empowered with automation technologies and inbound tactics. Lead scoring and nurturing reinvented the demand side of business. Sales 2.0 gave rise to role specialization, while data enabled reps to become more scientific with how they sell.  

Today, the savviest organizations are realizing that inbound is not enough, and cold calling 2.0 is on its last breath. Don’t get me wrong — we wouldn’t be where we are without these changes, but more changes are taking shape. Today, these organizations are embracing a new approach to generating demand and reaching hyper-growth.

This new approach is Account Based Sales Development, and we’ve just published the definitive book on the subject (142 pages!). Read on to learn more, and download your free copy today at

What is Account Based Sales Development?

In plain English, this is how we define Account Based Sales Development (ABSD):


You may be thinking that taking an account based approach to sales isn’t new, and you’re right. Sales reps have been selling at the account level for years. However, what’s new is the alignment your organization around this idea. Marketing has joined the hunt for target accounts under the name Account Based Marketing, and now sales development has joined as well with ABSD.

Inevitably, creating these labels leads to the greatest misconception of the account based movement: thinking that any one function is responsible for the account based strategy. It’s not a marketing initiative. It’s not a sales initiative. It’s not a sales development initiative. It’s a business initiative. All departments on the revenue-generating side of your business are responsible for planning, executing and delivering the strategy at the account level.

At Engagio, we call this idea Account Based Everything (ABE). And at its core is Account Based Sales Development.

You Have A Choice to Make: Quality or Quantity

If you want to grow your revenues faster, you have two options: close more business (increase quantity) or close better business (increase quality).

You’ve seen the story before — individual reps struggling to meet their number with high volume “strap-and-pray” approaches, hoping that by executing an ever higher volume of sales activities (blasting out more emails and dialing more numbers) they would lead to meeting quota and selling another day. This is no way to live. This “scorched earth” has resulted in burned leads, a tarnished brand, and an empty pipeline for the coming month.

On the other hand, what if you focused on higher quality efforts? What if your average contract value was 10X? What if you could have a greater impact on your bottom line?

We all have the same amount of selling time in a given day. We’ve all heard of working smarter versus working harder. ABSD is selling smarter versus selling harder. This is why account based thinking is so important. If you simply try to do more of the same thing, you’ll run out of fuel and get stranded out at sea.

Given all this, you may be wondering why there’s been a lot of hype and buzzwords, yet little action taken towards aligning your entire organization and taking an account-centric view on business.

The truth is vision isn’t easy. Many organizations let the opportunities slip through their fingers, only to be caught playing catch-up for the next generation of business. But in this case, we’re going to make it easy for you not to let this one slip through your fingers. Let us spell it out for you now.

Why You Must Embrace ABSD

So, what’s the difference, you ask, between the business-as-usual sales development and this new Account Based Sales Development? It turns out there’s quite a bit. To simplify, let’s look at what it means for you, your company, and your buyer. Your company must align and move as one, and they must be more strategic and patient. You have a finite list of prequalified accounts where you must focus your time and energy. Your efforts must be more personal and relevant, and your channels must be more diversified. Your buyer will have a better experience and will walk away satisfied.

Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and Chief Analyst at TOPO further explains, “Account Based Sales Development is today’s most effective account based tactic… Rather than rely on the high-volume process of outbound prospecting, organizations now strategically define a smaller, more targeted set of accounts and run personalized, buyer-centric campaigns against those accounts.”

If you are selling a high-dollar and highly complex solution, you’d be crazy not to adopt this approach. It’s the sales development function that is tasked with focusing and controlling both the technology and the processes that lead the orchestrated effort to execute a flawless complex sale. Sales development is the tip of the spear for Account Based Everything.

Here are three compelling reasons you must embrace Account Based Sales Development.

  • Efficiency and effectiveness in your sales process will skyrocket. Since we care about quality over quantity, more focus is placed on selecting the right accounts and orchestrating highly personalized “Plays,” naturally leading to an increase in productivity. Marketing can be done the way sales wants marketing to be done, which, in turn, gets you closer to the holy grail of sales and marketing alignment. When you achieve alignment, everyone is focused on the same goal: driving pipeline and closing accounts.
  • The problem, solution, and buying processes for your prospects are getting more complex. Bigger deals mean more risk to the buyer, which leads to the need for a more in-depth and involved decision-making process. As the buying committee grows, so too must your knowledge and understanding of your prospect’s business. It takes a team to navigate all the opposing players and get a football from one end of the field to the other and across the goal line. There’s no “I” in Account Based Sales Development.
  • You will build a good brand reputation while kicking your business into hyper growth. No more “robo-spam” that burns your brand. When your team selects the right accounts and takes the time to understand what is relevant to them, communication is done at the human level. Otherwise, if you treat leads as commodities, they’ll treat you as a commodity in return. By creating real value at each interaction, you become a trusted advisor bringing commercial insight, not another product-peddling salesperson. People only pay for the value that they can comprehend. Creating and translating value allows you to close bigger accounts faster.  

What The Future Holds

This is the modernization of sales development, and quite frankly, the modernization of the way B2B organizations conduct business.

Having a list of leads and being tasked with getting meetings at as many as possible is an antiquated approach. After all, when was the last time one of your reps proclaimed they closed a lead? Today’s modern sales development teams must have the skills to figure out who to target, what do to get their attention, and where to engage with them. It’s about getting the most complete picture possible about a target account.

Lars Nilsson, VP of Global Inside Sales at Cloudera and the man who helped coin the term Account Based Sales Development, argues that this combines passionate people, a structured process and leading technology.

That’s quite a tall order.

That’s why we’ve written the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development.

If you want to set yourself up for success here are the key things you need to know to execute an ABSD strategy:

  • New metrics: These are the quality metrics at the account level that complement your traditional sales development metrics: Coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and impact.
  • New selling: Think of it as team selling. Think in terms of company sourced deals. When you have team alignment, marketing doesn’t have lead commits, and sales doesn’t have daily dial numbers. An entire company sources the deal and closes the account together.
  • New playbook: It’s all about relevance and personalization for each account. No two deals go down the same way, which is precisely why a generic one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to fail.
  • New tech: There are new core tools that are essential accelerators of sales development, like your data vendors, social media tools, orchestration platforms, etc. Now, you also need infrastructure tools that provide the account lens on top of your data, like your CRM, marketing automation, analytics, etc.
  • New mindset: It starts with ABSD, but the real crux is this: Account Based Everything!

How To Build Your Account Based Sales Development Playbook Today

Are you convinced that ABSD is the future?

Great! But you may be left wondering where do we go from here?

You’re in luck. It’s not every day experts offer you to help navigate the mystifying waters of complex B2B sales development. We’ve just released a 142-page ebook loaded with worksheets, charts, and best practices from today’s leading Sales experts.

Here’s what you can look forward to in when you dive into this ebook:

  • The Who, What and Where of Account Based Sales Development
  • The incredible power of Account Based Sales Development “Plays.”
  • What truly personalized and relevant outreach looks like (hint: nothing like “robo-spam”).
  • The real role of data in building profiles and personas.
  • Why “human email” is the must-have weapon in your sales development arsenal.
  • How team selling concepts will take your prospecting to the next level and beyond.

You’ll also get detailed metrics and benchmarks you can use to build and manage a professional sales development team that consistently delivers the big opportunities. Get our guide to answer questions such as:

  • How many SDRs do I need?
  • What should I pay my SDRs?
  • How should I set quotas?
  • What are the best ways to hire SDRs?
  • What works for onboarding, training, and coaching?
  • How long should SDRs work before I promote them?
  • What activities should my SDRs be doing?
  • …and more!

download the account based sales development playbook now

This guide could well be the beginning of the next phase of your career.

It normally costs $19.95, but for a limited time, you can download it free at  Get your copy today!

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

2 Responses to “The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development”

September 26, 2016 at 3:53 pm, Nadia said:

Brandon – great post! Lately, we’ve been discussing the future of sales. Your thoughts about embracing account based sales development are very valid and worth consideration for every B2B sales professional. Thanks for your work.


September 30, 2016 at 4:15 am, Brandon Redlinger said:

Hi Nadia – Thanks! Glad it was helpful. Implementing an ABSD program is a lot of work, but well worth it in the end. Let us know if you have any other questions, we love geeking out about this stuff!


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