The ABM Sales Audit Every Company Needs (With Checklist)
By John-Patrick van Rensburg - February 26, 2021
Account-based marketing is not a new concept. It just never had a name until it was coined recently, primarily because we had to rethink sales because the competition grew fiercely in recent years. Cold unqualified sales processes weren’t cutting it anymore.
But, how do you switch your sales to an ABM strategy? What is ABM, and where do you begin? It’s not as difficult as you might think, but it starts with some hard questions.
What is ABM, and Why Do You Need It?
ABM is a strategy that utilises and directs marketing resources to engage a specific set of target accounts. It positions you to sell directly to your best-fit, highest-value accounts or potential accounts that have been correctly identified.
Switching to an ABM sales model helps your company communicate and work with high-value accounts as if they’re individual markets. In doing this, along with employing a proper buyer’s journey and tailored communication, campaigns and content to those accounts - you’ll see a clear improvement in your ROI, customer retention and loyalty.
One of the reasons ABM is only gaining popularity now is because it requires input from both sales and marketing, which traditionally haven’t gotten along well. It’s also quite labour intensive at the onset, which hinders many companies from getting started.
Conducting Your Sales Audit: How Ready Are You For ABM?
Arguably, the problem with any sales system is subjectivity and a general lack of perspective. If something changes slowly in front of you, it’s harder to identify the changes or lack thereof and be objective. However, by the time you notice an issue, it’s almost always too late, and if it is fixable, it’s time-consuming, ad-hoc and expensive. Good sales systems should not be changed in desperation or fear; you’re too late by that point.
Luckily asking the correct and pertinent questions with a quick sales audit can fix most of your problems, considering you take swift action.
What is a Sales Audit?
The term Sales Audit might sound a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. A sales audit is a detailed analysis of a company’s sales process. In short, it’s asking a series of hard-hitting questions. In fact, sales audits are necessary to set up your sales team and company for future success. These assessments can be conducted by internal or external auditors, depending on you and your company's preference. I would also recommend including your marketing team in the audit as the two teams tend to collaborate on initiatives or projects.
For more information on how your sales and marketing can work together read our article on Sales Enablement.
Checklist for Your ABM Sales Audit
During the ABM sales audit process, your goal is to answer the following questions:
- Can you convince your sales team to buy your product above that of your competitors?
This is a tough question and exactly why it’s number one on the list. If your first instinct was to bulk at this question, you know there’s an issue. If you can confidently say “yes, I can do that” then good for you. I ask this question because, crucially, you and your sales team must believe in what you’re selling.
- Can you summarise your value proposition and USP’s in the time it takes to take for an elevator to go from the ground floor to the 16th?
If it’s too complicated for you to explain succinctly, it’ll likely be too difficult for your potential clients to understand. You need to have your elevator pitch sorted.
- Who is currently involved in the sales process?
Think about all the information you get to close a sale, where do you go, who feeds into that.
- Is there anyone that should be part of the sales process that isn’t?
Marketing is part of sales if you like it or not, and if they’re not collaborating with sales, you need to change that.
- Where is your sales process breaking down?
You might think this is hard to figure out, but you probably thought of something already as you read that question. Sometimes it’s the easiest fix, but it’s often quite hard to answer. However, you don’t need to climb a mountain in one go; you can do it step by step.
- Are there too many captains, not enough corporals?
Who calls the shots? The likeliness of agreeing on something and following through diminishes with every person added to the decision-making process.
- What are you doing to maximise your business’s relevance among high-value accounts?
ABM requires you to personalise everything, including content, product information, stack decks communications, and campaigns for each account you invest your resources in. This maximises your relevance among these accounts.
- Are the members of your sales team satisfied with the number of clients they have? Are they over or underwhelmed?
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, but lack of inspiration and idle hands are even worse for a sales team’s motivation.
- Do your sales have assigned target markets? Do they have a Buyer Persona and a full understanding of the demographics?
Sales revolve around your ideal buyer persona.
- Are your sales reps motivated? Is there anything you can do to push their motivation further?
Motivation takes many forms and can be anything from a financial incentive, bragging rights or a behavioural approach.
- How has the sales leadership team supported the reps? What else can be done to provide support?
Sales reps need sales support to do their work.
- Are your sales reps following your outlined sales process?
A plan is there for a reason, and a clearly outlined sales process is the best plan of all.
- What is the culture of your sales team at the moment? Is it more collaborative or competitive?
- Does your sales team have a diverse approach to sales styles? What is the dominant style?
- How effective have your recent hires been in the past year? Are you hiring the right people?
- Are you training your reps? Are your reps educated on your competitors, company, services and industry?
- Are there recurring workshops or any activities to sharpen your sales staff’s skills?
- Are your reps equipped to succeed at their jobs; do they have the necessary skills, technology and tools to track their progress? Do they have sales collateral to impress and inform a client?
- How effective is the onboarding process for new reps? Do you have product & service training in place?
- Are you presenting to the right people, the decision-makers? If it’s a mismatch, how can you fix this and reach decision-makers?
- Is your presentation polished, visually appealing and easy to understand?
- Do you distinguish yourself from competitors in a sales presentation?
- How do your reps practice sales pitches, and how often? Are they able to do this remotely as well?
- What are your short-term and long-term priorities? Do you have actionable steps to achieve these goals?
- Are there any other business opportunities you could be pursuing? Can you forecast and pipeline success for this?
- Are there any redundant or missing steps in the sales process?
- What is the lead generation process like? What are the sources for new leads?
- How are you continuing to differentiate yourself from your competitors? Are you taking note of their business strategies and moves?
- Are there regular meetings with the sales team to discuss the overall strategy and determine goals? How effective are these meetings? What can be improved?
- How are you tracking successes and failures? What takeaways can you gain from them?
Getting Started With ABM
Account-based marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. Use the ABM Sales Audit we’ve created above as a starting point to implement a winning ABM strategy for your company. You don’t have to make big changes, but answering these questions will identify valuable information allowing you to reduce any friction impacting your sales growth.