How to Choose the Right Number of Target Accounts Per Rep
When determining who you’ll target in your Account Based Marketing program, an important decision is how many accounts you should be targeting within each tier of your program. As we’ve explained in previous posts, leveraging different styles of ABM will help you scale your efforts. It could look something like this:
It’s not enough to just pick a list of target accounts and launch campaigns. You must be strategic and prioritize your resources. Don’t spread out your ABM efforts across all accounts evenly like peanut butter; use account tiers and the different styles to ensure the right amount of resource for each account – and make sure everyone in the company is aligned around the prioritization and resources applied to each tier.
Like most decisions related to strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The number of accounts you choose to target for each Tier in your ABSD program – and the number of accounts per AE and SDR – will depend on things like:
- 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
Take a resource view
We think the best way to select target accounts is by looking at how many resources you have to invest. We call this Account Entitlement. Your entitlements depend on how you handle the different tiers or styles of ABM.
A given enterprise Account Executive may only be able to handle a few Tier 1 accounts, but a corporate rep could probably handle a few hundred Tier 3 target accounts at a time.
The right number of accounts is the number that your team can handle in a tier-appropriate way.
For example, let’s take a look at your “classic” ABM approach, where all of your interactions are 1-to-1. If you have 10 of these high-value accounts, but you’re struggling to keep your communications 1-to-1 (i.e., personal outbound emails versus automated marketing email, handwritten notes versus mass-printed letters, etc.), then scale back the number of target accounts. There’s no shame in doing less if your quality improves.
“A better guide to the best accounts-per-SDR ratio might be the number of people in the buying organization rather than pure deal size.”
– Ken Krogue, President and Founder, InsideSales.com
How we do it
At Engagio, each Account Executive has a territory consisting of:
- 3-5 Tier 1 accounts (deep personalization, no generic marketing)
- 15-25 Tier 2 accounts (medium personalization, no generic marketing)
- 40-50 Tier 3 accounts (light personalization)
The theory is that one rep can’t handle the work to create deep profiles for more than 5 accounts, especially if they’re working enterprise accounts. It’s unreasonable to expect reps to send 1-to-1 quality communications to 50 accounts on a consistent basis.
How our customers do it
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.
Sales Development capacity
You can also look at this issue based on the capacity of your outbound Sales Development Reps (SDRs). According to TOPO, the ideal number of accounts per SDR is 88 at a time. (That is of course an average, the right actual number will vary by deal size and complexity.)
“The ideal number of accounts per SDR is 88 at a time.”
Other firms have seen a massive variety in this number.
“We’ve seen 200 accounts per rep and 10 accounts per rep.”
–J.J. Kardwell, President & Co-founder, EverString
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 outbound SDR. But remember, there are big assumptions built into that calculation. In practice, the number of accounts in an Account Based Marketing and Sales program and the number of SDRs per account may vary quite a bit.
How many accounts does your team manage, on average? How did you make this decision?