Target Account Selling (TAS): How to make it work for your team
Imagine a sales funnel where every lead is high value. Every prospect is a perfect fit. Every deal turns into a lifetime customer.
No—this isn’t a fantasy sales novel.
It’s the reality when sales reps learn target account selling and apply it to their outreach efforts.
Target account sales—sometimes called account-based selling—is where every prospect is handpicked and matched to your ideal customer persona (ICP). You know their pain points, competitors, and how you'll sell them long before you pick up the phone.
Mastering the target-account process method will allow you to fill your pipeline with high-value leads that are a perfect fit for your product. We’re about to dive into:
- What is target account selling?
- How target account selling works
- 4 stages of the target account selling process
- Target account sales model advantages and disadvantages
- 5 target account selling strategies to master your craft
Let’s get targeting 🎯
What is target account selling?
Salespeople can use target account selling to find qualified prospects who are a good fit for their product and increase their chances of turning them into paying customers.
It’s all about picking the right prospects, researching them (and then researching some more), and crafting messages that directly address their pain points. This allows for a hyper-personalized sales approach. The sales team is then able to target the highest potential leads in their pipeline, and dedicate more time and resources towards closing them, rather than a more evenly distributed shotgun approach which leads every potential customer through the same process. You basically custom-tailor your sales approach to fit their buying process.
How target account selling works
Target account selling—TAS for short—is when sales reps get into the weeds of a prospect’s needs.
A target account selling process for a sales team means gathering high-value, well-matched prospects into a list and building specific, targeted outreach proposals just for them. This strategy usually focuses on finding accounts that are:
- A perfect fit. The prospect's company is in a certain industry, and their employee numbers match your ICP. They may be with one of your competitors and looking to change products or a startup with a budget that can afford your products. You need to check a lot of boxes for an account to fit your targeting strategy so you don't waste time on a dead lead.
- High-value. Target account selling takes a long time—it’s not just cold calling the first 50 numbers in a random list. Each account is handpicked and more likely to convert because its budget, needs, and ICP match your target market. The effort is worth it because prospects are more likely to convert and turn into paying customers. More effort = more reward.
- A potential lifetime customer. Finding prospects looking for a long-term partner will make the time invested in TAS worthwhile. Spending five hours researching and personalizing an outreach strategy for a high-value client will seem like nothing if they sign up and stay with you for a couple of years!
To find the right accounts, sales reps need to follow a step-by-step process to narrow down targets 👇
4 stages of the target account selling process
Having a clear picture of the four stages of the TAS process will help you implement the concept into your sales workflow, and enable you to generate more revenue from your pipeline.
However, it does require you to be clear about your specific objectives, thoughtfully analyze your sales intel, and operationalize the steps effectively.
Psst... Ever heard of the Challenger Sales Model? Now's your chance to dive in.
1. Decide what you want to achieve with TAS
Don’t start fleshing out a TAS strategy unless you know why you want to go down this road.
Targeting accounts is a great selling strategy if your sales reps have time to research, reach out, and close these deals. TAS isn't spending 10 minutes on LinkedIn and then picking up the phone to cold call a lead—you need to have specific sales goals and know what you want to achieve by selling like this.
TAS goals can include:
- Signing new accounts. Do you want to fill your pipeline with new prospects? You can use TAS to find accounts that are a good fit for your product/service and match your sales cycle.
- Closing deals quicker: Long sales cycles cost your company time and money. Finding accounts that are ready to close within your ideal timeframe help keep revenue targets on track and save your sales reps from getting dragged into months of stalled negotiations.
- Upselling existing accounts. What about the accounts already on your books? Current customers trust your company—you’ve delivered for them once already. TAS goals can be upselling or cross-selling to customers based on the data you have on them and offering new or unused features within your product.
New accounts require a completely different approach from shortening a sales cycle or cross-selling to an existing customer you've worked with for five years. It's okay to have multiple goals with a TAS strategy but make sure your team is on the same page with what you're trying to accomplish with each batch of accounts you target.
Once you know what you want to achieve with TAS—start searching for new prospects.
2. Figure out what the perfect target account looks like
Don’t skip this step—it's an essential part of the entire target account process.
Find prospects that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP). These accounts are the crème de la crème of your target market because they fit like a glove. They may work in an industry that already loves your product. Or their company is big enough that they can afford a contract. Most importantly, your product is a good fit for them because it’ll actually help them. It's the kind of companies that (hopefully) marketing focuses their lead generation efforts on.
Tick these boxes when searching for accounts that match your ICP:
- What does their company look like? Take a deeper look at the prospect's firmographic data, like company size and how many employees they have. See what industry they're in, what customers they serve, and if they're growing (or stalling). Look at your existing customer base and your most loyal accounts to see what similarities you should be looking for.
- What’s in their tech stack? Are they already using one of your competitors? Does their tech stack look like they would invest in a product like yours? When I pitch Close to a new client, I want to know they're already using some marketing and sales tools. Otherwise, our product may be too advanced for their needs. This information is super easy to find—just plug the prospect’s website into a tool like Slintel or Wappalyzer to see what tools they’re currently using.
- Have they shown interest in your product? Website and social media data are a treasure trove for finding companies that have already checked out what you're selling. Look at your website's analytics, LinkedIn history, and social media mentions to see if prospects have already taken a look at your products. Your analytics tools will also track if they've shown buying intent (like clicking on your pricing page) or engaged with a sales rep in the past about a particular product. This is a sign that they're interested but may still be on the fence about buying.
In fact, sometimes it might be worth developing individual buyer personas for different decision-makers and stakeholders involved in the deal within a given account. So don't just think: this is Company X's buyer profile, but think: This is the buyer persona of Bob from the purchasing department, and this is the buyer persona of Jennifer from legal, etc, etc. As soon as you know what your target accounts look like, it’s time to get searching.
3. Find your accounts and start making a list
Sales reps are totally spoiled for prospecting tools and finding target accounts (also known as key accounts).
We now have everything we need at our fingertips to search and find companies that fit even the most detailed personas. Start with LinkedIn—search for companies and CEOs that match your ICP and ensure that their industry, location, and team size align with your target.
Find around 10 to 20 matches and then move on to other criteria like growth phase, revenue, and tech stacks. Let’s say you’re targeting companies with 50+ employees that work in SaaS marketing and advertising. One of the companies you’ve found ticks all the boxes… so you put them on your list, right?
You need to check whether or not they're growing, their tech stack has room for your product, and most importantly—if they can afford you. When a company's growth has stalled or is losing money, investing in a new product will be the last thing it wants to do.
That said, don’t go overboard or spend weeks researching target accounts for your list—once you have a handful of matches, move on to the last step of the target account process.
4. Finalize your list and start selling
Time to start reaching out to accounts and selling.
You’ve done the hard work by finding accounts that are a good fit for your product. Don’t mess it all up by sending them a boring outreach email that is “just checking in” 🥱
Reaching out to target accounts is easy for sales organizations with the right sales tools. With Close CRM, you can import a list of target accounts and create automated email sequences to kickstart your outreach efforts.
Thanks to template tags and customization, emails will automatically fill in the target account's name and mention any specifics (like job title or industry), so it looks like it's been put together just for them, based on real-time data captured automatically. Just connect Close, add some custom fields to a template and let the tool do the rest of the hard work:
Target account sales model advantages and disadvantages
Before throwing all of your current sales strategies in the trash and investing all of your time in TAS, you still need to be realistic about whether account selling is right for you.
For all the benefits of target account selling, there are some disadvantages to the process as well that sales managers should be aware of👇
Benefits & advantages of target account selling
TAS can really level up your sales game if you're currently practicing a more indiscriminate approach. It can improve customer relationships, help build more avid brand advocates, increase CLTV, create a higher-value brand and customer experience for everyone you get in contact with, and ultimately help your team generate more revenue.
#1. Target accounts + your company = fit like a glove
When you close a deal with a good-fit customer, it’s a win-win for them and you.
A target account ticks all of your boxes—they need your product, have the budget for it and their sales cycle suits yours. These accounts are worth a ton to your business, and the time you spent closing the deal will be nothing if they stick with you and become a high-revenue customer. These are often the best customers your company acquires, they'll see more success with your solution, and stay with your company for longer periods of time.
#2. You spend less time on crappy leads
A poor account list is a sales reps’ worst nightmare—hours wasted on cold calls and outreach emails that get thrown straight in the trash, no matter what sales techniques you deploy.
A solid target-account process means spending time on prospects that are actually a good fit for your product. These businesses have the budget and need for what you’re selling. This means less time spent on unqualified leads and more revenue added to your sales funnel.
#3. You become a trusted product in a particular industry
Targeting accounts in specific industries is one of the best ways to make a mark.
Ever wonder why sales professionals favor Close? 🤔
We've put in hours (and hours) specifically targeting sales teams, earning trust, and showing reps that our tool helps close more deals. Everything we do is to prove we know what we're doing and that our tool brings money into a company's sales funnel.
As soon as that trust starts building, so does brand recognition. Bringing new accounts on board and building relationships is even easier when people know your name. The work to prove that our product is worth the money is already done.
That’s the power of selecting the right target accounts and building up brand recognition in your customer base.
Challenges & disadvantages of target account selling
Now, the Target Account Selling methodology is not for everyone, and there are good reasons not to implement it into your sales process. Let's look at the top 3 reasons why it might not be the right sales methodology for you.
#1. It takes time to fine-tune your account selection process
Finding and researching target accounts can take a lot of time—especially when you first start using TAS.
Don’t underestimate how long it’ll take you to find companies and CEOs that have the time, budget, and need for your product—it’s a totally different ball game to sending out hundreds of cold emails to random leads. And it requires that sales, marketing, customer success, and other departments are aligned in their initiatives, and your sales team needs to be on top of their metrics.
#2. You need to be cutthroat
It’s tempting to add accounts to your list even when they don’t tick all of your boxes.
Rationalizing why an account may be good to target is a trap. If you aren't ruthless when selecting accounts and put prospects on the list that don't meet your criteria, you'll end up with a bunch of poorly fitted accounts—and a lot of wasted time.
#3. It’s still sales—some accounts will still say no
Even with all of the research, time and effort put into targeting accounts and adapting to their buying process... some will still say no.
That’s the reality of selling.
Mentally prepare yourself that not every account on your list will become a paying customer—staying positive and believing that the strategy works will be a lot harder once a couple of accounts turn you down (believe me, it's definitely going to happen.) Investing a lot of effort into nurturing a high-potential prospect that ultimately doesn't buy means lost revenue: You could have spent that time closing a series of smaller accounts.
3 target account selling strategies to master your craft
Here are some practical tips for beefing up your sales campaigns with TAS and generating more new business.
1. Create custom offers that get you a seat at the meeting table
Successful target account selling relies on a couple of factors.
Obviously, picking the right account is at the top of the list.
But creating offers and outreach messages that are personalized to the prospect is what gets you in that meeting room. Write like a human, focus on the prospect’s problems, and tell them exactly how you’re going to help.
Here’s an example:
Target account selling takes a lot of time. Don’t throw away all your hard work by serving up a stale offer to your prospects.
2. Use research to get into the minds of your target accounts
That research I keep talking about?
Well, it's your secret weapon for target account selling. Market research lets you see what a target account's customers are asking for and what they lack in terms of products or features. This extra research can get your foot in the door with a target account—even when the market is saturated or they're using a competitor.
Check out how Tray.io once targeted us using data and research:
What do you notice?
They researched our product and targeted what our customers were asking for.
Without our customers, Close is nothing. Mentioning them immediately grabbed my attention. Wrapped up in the same paragraph is what their tool can do, how an existing customer uses it, and what benefits they're seeing. Just like that, I wanted to know more and if they could do the same for us.
A little extra research goes a long way.
3. Put your target-account outreach on autopilot
I know I've talked a lot about how time-consuming target account selling is, but there's a way to put your outreach and follow-up efforts on autopilot.
Once the research is done and you've got a list of target accounts, you can feed that information into Close, and it'll automatically reach out to each one for you. You can make every message sound as if it was written by you with custom fields and mention everything from their name to the department they work in and their level of tech expertise.
Setting this up with Close only takes a couple of minutes:
Step 1. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Close (we don’t even need a credit card!)
Step 2. Log in to your account and create a new email template/sequence for target account outreach, including custom fields and tags so every email is super personalized
Step 3. Import your target account list and select which accounts you want to receive your initial outreach email
Step 4. Watch your pipeline fill up with new, high-value prospects!
Pick your target, aim, and fire!
Target account selling is more than just putting together a list of prospects and cold calling them.
It’s about getting into the research trenches and spending time finding those accounts that just fit with what you’re selling. Accounts that make the cut need to align with your TAS strategy and match certain revenue, industry, and company size prerequisites.
Once your research is done, and you've found a couple of accounts that are a perfect fit for your product—pick up the phone and get selling.
Need some help figuring out which accounts are the best fit for your business? Use our Ideal Customer Profile Kit to get started now: