Account-Based Selling (ABS): A Guide for B2B SaaS Companies (2023)

Learn about Account-Based Selling (ABS). Understand how to target customers, personalize messaging, lower acquisition costs & more

Written by
Ninad Pathak
, Edited by
September 28, 2023
0 min read

Cold calls that lead nowhere. Generic pitches that fall flat. And data overload with no clear strategy. We’ve all been there.

But what if you could truly know your target customers, connect with them on a human level and win their business with precision and care?

That’s Account-Based Selling (ABS). 

In this guide, we'll explore ABS and why it's reshaping sales, especially for new SaaS companies. We'll also look at account intelligence tools like Factors that are making this targeted approach possible. 

Sound good? Let's dive in.


  • Account-Based Selling (ABS) treats each company as a unique market, focusing on multiple stakeholders. It's ideal for B2B with complex sales cycles
  • Benefits of ABS include greater control over your sales pipelines, personalized messaging, lower acquisition costs, and aligning sales and marketing teams
  • Tools like Factors enhance ABS with account intelligence, journey mapping, and attribution
  • Assess resources, tech, market, differentiation, and executive buy-in to determine if ABS fits
  • ABS offers a more informed, strategic approach vs. hunch-based calling or generic pitching

What Is Account-Based Selling?

Account Based Selling

Account-based selling (ABS) and account-based marketing (ABM) are quite similar. 

The main difference—ABS focuses on sales while ABM focuses on marketing

Account-based selling treats each target company as a unique market. Unlike traditional sales methods that focus on individual leads, ABS focuses on an entire account or business. This means you consider all the possible stakeholders and decision-makers when performing outreach and creating your messaging.

Here's how ABS works:

  • Sales and marketing select target accounts that fit the ideal customer profile. This process is called account scoring. These are the companies most likely to benefit from the offering.
  • Buyer personas are created to understand the various stakeholders' needs within each account.
  • Personalized content is then developed to appeal to the interests of each stakeholder.
  • Sales representatives conduct personalized outreach to each stakeholder using tailored content.
  • The goal is to nurture and guide stakeholders through the buyer's journey by resonating with their specific needs and interests.

ABS takes time to understand stakeholder needs and creates customized messaging. It's like tailoring a bespoke suit, instead of a premade piece. 

Let’s consider Trello—a project management tool. Suppose they want to target mid-sized companies since those have fewer employees managing multiple functions—a project management tool is perfect. Within those companies, they would create and send the project managers content about efficiency, the IT staff content about integration, and the executives content about ROI. 

This approach, while more intensive, talks directly to the audience and covers a broad range of pain points. The more stakeholders learn about your product, the easier it becomes to get your target accounts to adopt your products.

But is it only applicable to B2B or would ABS also work for B2C businesses?

Is Account-Based Selling Better Suited to B2B or B2C?

Account-based selling is a more targeted and meticulous approach to selling. 

You need time and resources to understand an account’s needs, who the buyer is, what are the pain points, and how the product can be tailored to satisfy those needs. 

The B2C market may not be the right fit for such a high-commitment approach to sales. Let’s look at how ABS suits B2B vs B2C. 

B2B Approach B2C Approach
Decision Makers
Multiple stakeholders influencing the buying process   Individual consumers based on personal interests/needs
Product Complexity
 Complex, customized solutions  Simpler, off-the-shelf offerings
Relationship Focus  Long-term relationships, recurring revenue  One-time transactions
Sales Cycle Length  A longer, more patient approach focused on penetrating accounts  Shorter, quick attention-grabbing
Financial Commitment and Risk  High financial commitment and risk, consultative experience  Smaller-ticket items, lower financial commitment
 Approach  Tailored, consultative, trust-building  Mass marketing, product-focused

Account-Based Selling for B2B

B2B involves higher commitment and longer sales cycles including multiple decision makers.

Account-Based Selling for B2B

  • Deals with multiple decision-makers and stakeholders within an organization who influence the buying process. ABS allows sales teams to identify each stakeholder, understand their specific interests and pain points, and tailor messaging to resonate with each person.
  • Products and services tend to be highly complex and customized. ABS enables sales reps to take time to deeply understand a client's unique business challenges and craft tailored solutions.
  • The focus is on long-term customer relationships versus one-time transactions. Account-based selling nurtures relationships over months or years and emphasizes recurring revenue versus individual sales.
  • Sales cycles are longer due to multiple stakeholders and complex products. It is a patient approach focused on carefully penetrating accounts versus rapid product pushing.
  • Purchases involve high financial commitment and risk for the client. This approach builds trust to provide a consultative experience and gives clients confidence in major decisions.

However, this complex B2B buyer journey also translates to higher revenue per client compared to a B2C audience. 

Account-Based Selling for B2C

Account-Based Selling for B2C

B2C is a numbers game—the more people see your product, the more conversions you have. You can always go deeper within a niche and personalize content for your users. But the ROI on that effort would be much lower than B2B. Here’s why:

  • Individual consumers make purchases based on personal interests/needs versus organizational fit. A mass marketing, product-focused approach may resonate more than account-based selling.
  • Products tend to be simpler, off-the-shelf offerings requiring little customization or explanation of features/benefits. Less need for a highly tailored, consultative sales approach.
  • The focus is on one-time transactions versus building relationships and recurring purchases over time. Account-based selling is inefficient when one sale is the primary goal.
  • Sales cycles are typically much shorter and involve little risk for the buyer. Quickly grab attention versus meticulously building account awareness over an extended period.
  • Purchases are smaller-ticket items involving lower financial commitment. There’s less need to build a case for purchase through account-based selling techniques.

Because of the higher commitment and upfront cost, ABS may not make financial sense for B2C businesses. 

Benefits of Account-Based Selling 

Benefits of Account-Based Selling

Account-based selling represents a seismic shift in how many organizations approach sales and marketing. This approach offers several key advantages.

1. Greater Control Over How You Target Customers

Account-based selling allows sales teams to intimately understand each target account. Treating each account as a unique market, your sales reps can dive deep into the specific needs, challenges, and decision-making dynamics within each organization. 

For example, a software company selling to hospitals may devote resources to understanding the typical procurement cycles, IT infrastructure, and patient billing workarounds within a large healthcare system. Equipped with this insight, the sales team can craft resonating proposals for each stakeholder group within the hospital.

2. More Personalized Messaging

This ability to fine-tune messaging also fosters greater personalization. Because sales have rich buyer personas for each decision-maker within an account, they can speak directly to individual priorities and pain points. Instead of generic messaging, account-based selling enables highly personalized outreach. 

This personalization, in turn, helps build meaningful connections and increases sales efficiency. Sales teams no longer waste time cold calling or emailing broad prospect lists. Every communication is targeted and purposeful. Consequently, sales cycles are often shorter, and conversion rates are higher with account-based selling.

3. Can Lower Cost of Acquisition 

Account-based selling also fosters tight alignment between sales and marketing teams. Marketing gains critical insights from sales on customer needs that inform campaigns and content creation. And sales leverages marketing outreach to penetrate and engage target accounts. This unified strategy amplifies results and ensures both teams are working toward the same goals.

When a company leverages ABS, every dollar spent on advertising and content creation is targeted to a single entity. You’re more likely to convert your account with this approach here compared to using a mass appeal approach. 

Also, because you’re targeting a very small set of untapped users, the advertising costs are likely to be lower than your traditional marketing. And with that, you reduce your acquisition costs over time. 

4. Better Alignment with Marketing Team

While account-based selling requires more upfront research and coordination, the payoff can be huge. Companies report larger deal sizes, shortened sales cycles, expanded deal volume, and increased customer retention from the approach. 

And this is one of the few strategies where the marketing and sales teams have to collaborate to create successful strategies. You will notice this based on the roles in an ABM team

For instance, if you’re targeting a mid-sized B2B company, your marketing team can identify all the pages and resources visitors from the target account have consumed. With that data, the sales team can create sales collateral like battle cards and pitch decks that better speak to the pain points of the client. 

Account-based selling could very well represent the future of B2B sales and marketing for organizations selling complex, high-value solutions. But is this the right approach for your business? 

How to Decide if Account-Based Selling Is For You?

Account-based selling can be a highly effective sales strategy but requires careful evaluation to determine if it aligns with your organization's resources, market landscape, and overall objectives. 

When assessing the viability, here are some of the key factors to analyze:

1. Sales Team Expertise and Bandwidth

Implementing ABS requires sales reps with the skills to thoroughly research target accounts, craft customized messaging, and build relationships wiith multiple stakeholders. 

Assess whether your team is ready for this shift or if extensive training is needed. Also evaluate if reps have the bandwidth to dedicate time to fewer, high-value accounts.

2. Investment in Technology

Account-based selling relies heavily on technology to coordinate account data, optimize touchpoints, and track progress. Your tech stack needs robust integration, analytics, and automation capabilities to enable a streamlined ABS workflow. 

If current systems are lacking, you may want to look for better tools. Tools like Factors can be instrumental in this process. It provides user journey mapping to understand the customer's path and identify key touchpoints. They can also help you understand your audience better through account intelligence and custom reporting features. 

3. Understanding Your Total Addressable Market

ABS works best when tightly focused on a clearly defined market segment. Carefully analyze your TAM to identify niche opportunities and pockets of high-value accounts to pursue. Take a selective and strategic approach to mapping your target accounts.

Suppose you have created a plugin for Shopify store owners that costs $10/month. In this case, it may make more sense to reach as many stores as possible instead of targeting one. That’s because the maximum revenue will be $10/month. Unless you have higher, more expensive tiers, ABS may simply end up requiring too many resources for negligible returns. 

But flip the script with higher pricing— say $2500/month—and you now have every reason to identify target accounts from your existing website visitors, double down on creating targeted messaging, and make your marketing as personalized as possible.

4. Competitive Differentiation

In saturated markets, ABS can help differentiate you, but analyze whether your product/service offers enough unique value in the eyes of your chosen accounts. Talk to prospects and gauge interest levels and identify areas where you can provide superior solutions.

The more you understand about your product from your prospects and customers, the better it is for your marketing messaging. Through these demo calls, you could even find multiple use cases that you never really thought of! 

5. Executive Buy-In and Patience

Gaining access to and winning over executive-level decision-makers takes time. Ensure leadership understands the longer sales cycles required for ABS success. Sustained commitment to chosen accounts is vital.

The integration of advanced analytics tools like Factors, with its relevant features such as account intelligence, user journey mapping, and marketing attribution, can help you gain deeper insights and improve your ABS processes.

Account-based selling brings strategic focus to sales. But it requires organizational realignment, thorough market analysis, and executive patience. So you may want to consider these points when making your decision about ABS.

Ready to Take the Obvious Next Step in B2B Sales?

Look, I get it. Traditional sales feel comfortable. It's what we've always done—call a lot of prospects, pitch to anyone who will listen, cross your fingers, and hope something sticks. 

But that scattershot approach is starting to feel outdated. Sales have evolved, and it's time to get strategic and targeted, especially if you’re in the B2B space.

Account-based selling helps you play a winning game. 

You research accounts, understand their needs, and craft tailored solutions—making your approach about quality over quantity—finding the right fit instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall.

And tools like Factors make this process so much smoother. You get the intel and insights you need to map accounts, attribute success, and turn sales into a science.

ABS is already here. So why keep playing by the old rules? Book a call with Factors to start your account-based selling journey today.

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