A Tale of ABM Success


Tick tock goes the fiscal year clock. As a Sales Development Leader you often find yourself wondering, am I doing the right thing? Will my decisions have a positive, or negative impact on my team? Am I adhering to industry standards?  I was tired of taking directions from VPs that I knew wouldn’t work, and I decided one day that I would take control of my own destiny – no joke. To this end, I attended a sales conference that changed my outlook on how to manage my team, how to manage my own brand, and how to make a difference in my BDR teams.  What changed? I started using concrete data to help guide my decision making. Data is unbiased, doesn’t lie, and, hopefully, can be used to avoid repeating history. Armed with solid data, I immediately started sounding more reliable and experienced in meetings – and I started getting “by in” from the higher powers.

Just recently, we at Apttus moved to an Account Based Marketing approach. While I am pretty sure everyone is moving toward this strategy, most are having a tough time implementing.  Currently we have the shell of tools and methodology in place, but execution is the real test. As I started thinking about an “Account Based Everything” approach (insert the real struggle), I knew I needed to rely on data to start my implementation process.  Such an approach necessitates the right contacts, messaging, timing and platform.

Developing the Right Contacts

Start with data – look at the past.

To develop out the right contacts, you must start with the data. What are the performance levels of your team? How many accounts can your BDR actually tackle? How many contacts within each account can a BDR tackle?

Are your BDRs also supporting the inbound model?  How many leads can they handle on a daily basis? How many times do you want them to touch each lead? What type of cadence do you want to support?

Have you done “BDR Math”?  This is just a fancy way of using backwards math based on how many MQLs you have and how many accounts you want them to hit per month.  BDR Math allows you to examine the BDR capacity of your organization and align your strategy with your metrics.

Next, take a look at your data sources.

Are you giving BDRs the right tools for success?

Let’s face it, some of the top tools (LinkedIn vs. RainKing vs. DiscoverOrg vs. Lead Genius vs. Zoominfo, should I go on…) are being used by other companies. Keep that in mind when you are evaluating.  In addition, ask yourself – are they offering you the titles you need to be successful? At the end of the day, don’t pay for a tool that doesn’t meet your needs.

Speaking of paying, what is your cost per lead?  How much is it costing companies to actually acquire this data?  Look at the overall cost, from lead to closed opportunity.  Is the ROI outweighing the cost of your tools? If so – rock on!


Now that you have the contacts, you have to focus your efforts on messaging.

Are your BDRs equipped to ask the tough question – who is making the decision?  Who else should I be speaking to?

Get your marketing team onboard to equip your BDRs with the correct messaging.  I mean it – have open, honest conversations with Marketing.  You can have your BDRs, or even marketing, write their emails, but let’s face it – some are great and others not so much.

Here are some suggestions to curb the crave to spam:

  • Workshops: hold email and call workshops with BDRs. They are great ways to bounce ideas off one another and practice objection handling. We just did this, and even I picked up a new trick or two.
  • I am super lucky to have an amazing product marketing team. They put together persona based flash cards, include pain-points, talking points, struggles for that industry and personas. (Insert your Marketing relationship here).
  • Cold calling is dead – I really hate this idea. I am retraining my BDRs with the notion that, while all the other BDRs are getting their emails stuck in spam, we are the only ones calling and leaving messages.  With calls, I try to use the same technique we use with emails – focus on a pain-point, speak to the industry or company as a whole, ask for a referral, break up.
  • Guinea Pigs. I put together an email campaign for the holidays and sent it to one of my managers. He said he open every single email and actually liked the content.
  • Organization is key. Help your BDRs create different folders – personas/industries/different titles within different industries.


Dust off your crystal ball…

I go back to calling. If you actually engage in conversations with individuals, you may find out more juicy nuggets! Subscribe to triggers and scoops via your contact database. If you don’t use one, tell your BDRs to “follow” their accounts on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, follow their accounts on Twitter, and subscribe to google alerts.

As a Boss you HAVE to create an actual touch and follow-up cadence on leads and accounts across all the processes you are putting in place. Here are some tips:

  • Inbound vs Outbound vs. Named Accounts – if you don’t establish a foundation, you open yourself and your team up to user interpretation within your lead process. Use your best BDRs to guide you through the development process.  If they are successful, find out why – they are your best data source.
  • Decide how many times an account should be considered a “target.” Are you hitting each account every other month? Different contacts based on different months?


Reach out and touch someone

In terms of developing the right platform, at Apttus we use:

  • Engagio for all things Account Based. This platform allows BDRs to orchestrate personalized account-based prospecting strategies (aka “plays”).  We can create and send prospecting touch points and insights into both inbound and outbound account engagement – and match leads to the appropriate accounts.
  • InsideSales.com for all of our calling, emailing and gamification.

As they say, it’s a tough gig, but someone’s gotta do it!  So go out there, reevaluate your business and your approach and watch the success roll in.

Author Bio:

Katherine Andruha is the Director of Global Business Development at Apttus, Inc.  She currently manages 47 Business Development professionals worldwide.  Katherine is a Chapter Board Member for the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, Silicon Valley, and a member of the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals.  Her passion for sales development began over 10 years ago and continues to grow due to her “never stop learning” attitude.  


Leave a Reply

Up ↑