Ask 20 people on your sales team what a “good fit” account looks like, and you’ll probably get 20 different answers. But, in order for your outbound sales team to be effective, it’s essential that you help them prioritize what kinds of accounts to pursue to remove the guesswork.

Not only that, it helps if you automate that process so that you remove the guesswork entirely. If you prioritize and communicate specific accounts you want your sales development reps (SDRs) to contact, you remove the guesswork and your team can spend more time selling and less time researching.

“Our SDRs were spending at least 33% of their day researching prospects – not selling! – and their outbound approach was haphazard at best,” said Brian Vital, Vice President of Sales Development at ZoomInfo. “ And even when they were successful in getting through to a decision-maker, the inconsistency in account selection and approach made it challenging for our sales leaders to duplicate what worked.”

We knew we needed to standardize our targeting and prospecting strategies so the SDRs could spend time doing what they do best  — selling ZoomInfo!  We needed to eliminate all of the guesswork around what companies to call, whom to reach out to at those companies, and what to say to make a connection. 

To achieve this, we made some changes. We updated our outbound sales process so that when our SDRs come to work each morning, they have everything they need to be successful.

They are provided:

  • A list of the best companies to call
  • Contacts at those companies that are aligned to our use cases and value props
  • Templates and automated sequences to streamline outreach

This approach resulted in measurable growth. By using ZoomInfo to prioritize outreach and streamline communications, our SDR team increased monthly demo bookings by 126%!  

Your organization can achieve similar success by taking the following 5 steps:

Step 1: Define your Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Creating a TAM will always include looking at data points such as location, industry, and company size — but you need to dig deeper. We consider these additional company attributes to really refine our TAM:

  • Business model: It’s important to differentiate between consumer-based companies and those that sell to other businesses so you can position your products and services appropriately.
  • Number of locations: Companies with multiple locations are likely experiencing success and perhaps have a need for a greater amount of products or licenses. 
  • Department-specific employee count: While the size of a company’s overall staff is important, it is more useful to know the size of particular departments that your SDRs are targeting. 
  • Existing technology: A prospect’s tech stack is a crucial piece of information for SDRs to know in terms of integration opportunities and competing products. For ZoomInfo, companies that use a customer relationship management (CRM) system or marketing automation tool are often good prospects to focus on.
  • Age of the company: Young companies may not be sophisticated enough to need certain products that older, more mature companies depend on.

“You can use any data point that makes sense for your business to help you define your TAM,” said Vital. “We chose attributes based on common trends within our customer base and feedback from our sales team.”

Step 2: Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Once you’ve defined your TAM, you need to determine a means for prioritizing accounts within it for your SDRs to focus on. ICPs are generated by using demographic data from past wins that indicate a higher likelihood of closing a deal.

And it’s really important to continuously examine and update your ICP to keep up with market changes. The business world is constantly in flux. New companies spring up, people change jobs, and demand for a product or service evolves as the market does. With all of these macro and micro influences, it can be really difficult to keep up with everything.

Our sales team uses ZoomInfo’s AI ICP to help us keep our ideal customer profiles current. AI ICP uses artificial intelligence to identify common company attributes among your recently closed deals (or most successful customers — you get to pick the customer list!). And, the best part about leveraging artificial intelligence for creating ICPs is that it can identify patterns and trends that we humans may never have noticed or thought were important. We use it all the time to make sure we’re targeting the right companies with the right messages.   

“AI ICP is a game changer for sales efficiency,” according to Vital. “We don’t waste time researching and pitching accounts anymore with a low likelihood of closing.”

Step 3: Prioritize Target Accounts Using B2B Intelligence

After you narrow down the accounts within your defined territories to focus on the ones that match your ideal customer profiles, you need to prioritize outreach within that list for your SDRs to approach. And, suggest the best way to approach them.

Reaching out to the right people the right time with the right message is critical for the success of your outbound sales strategy. We use ZoomInfo to get the B2B intelligence we need to prioritize accounts and start meaningful conversations.

We know what companies to approach and when by:

  • Tracking new initiatives: ZoomInfo aggregates all of the information about a company that’s publicly available. By reading press releases and announcements, you can get a very good idea about where a company is headed and what they are prioritizing. 
  • Tracking funding rounds: If a startup receives a funding round to expand their business, they usually need new tools and technology to scale.
  • Monitoring intent signals: Let the companies tell you they’re interested.  ZoomInfo lets you know when a company shows increased interest in the products and services you provide.

Step 4: Set Account Rules

Once you’ve determined which accounts to go after you need to decide how to deliver them to your SDRs in a prioritized, non-overwhelming way. 

We established automated rules about the number of accounts an SDR should be actively pursuing and how many new accounts an SDR automatically receives each week. Our platform’s Rules Engine automatically sends fresh accounts and contacts to each SDR based on the TAM, ICP scoring, and relevancy of the contacts.

But, there is no “set it and forget it” approach for account management and prioritization. Even if you’ve done everything right and have created the “perfect” TAM and ICPs for your business, and figured out the appropriate number of accounts for your SDRs to handle, it’s important that you closely monitor account activity and success rates to keep your pipeline healthy.

We watch the following areas to make sure our SDRs always have fresh, active accounts to target:

  • Outreach response: If one of our sales reps has repeatedly attempted to contact an account with no response, we make the choice to remove it from their priority list and replace it with a new account. By doing this, we keep our territories fresh and our sales people motivated.
  • Accounts with low activity: It can be tough for sales reps to juggle notes, emails, and other activity they’ve taken with various target accounts.  Our sales team leverages AI capabilities within the ZoomInfo platform to uncover any “low touch” accounts and trigger our reps to keep pushing for a call.

Step 5: Get Aligned with Marketing

To give SDRs more time to focus on selling, we work with marketing on generating awareness, creating the best content, and making sure we deliver that content to our prospects when it will best support our sales motions.

Secure proper air cover for your next sales push

It is best to start campaigns with marketing air cover. From blogs to social media and broader media outreach, anything with a broad readership will help build awareness around the value you want to lead with in your next sales push. 

We’ve found that when we start marketing air cover about two months ahead of a push, our conversion rates are better. 

Tag team your outreach efforts

The most powerful way to engage with prospects is to get alignment between sales and marketing. With the right automation tools, sales can make an introduction and marketing can keep our products and services top of mind.

Our preferred email sequence after an initial conversation is to send emails on days 1, 4, 7, and 10  — giving us about a week and a half of continued engagement. The first email uses personalized wording and is longer, while the follow-up messages are shorter and act as reminders about the initial email. All of them are sent using a marketing automation tool.

Test the messaging and format of your content

Content is key to communicating the value of our products and services. The target personas at your target accounts experience different day-to-day challenges, so it is important to make sure you are focusing on the right pain points.

We look at what messaging and content types (eBooks, videos, infographics, etc) resonate best with each persona so we can deliver the right message in the right way to the right person.

“It is so critical to have the right support from the marketing team,” said Vital. “We meet regularly to ensure we are aligned.”

Results: Scalable, Repeatable Success

Once we launched our new outbound approach, SDRs became more efficient by simply  focusing on better opportunities and not wasting time on prospects unlikely to buy. Following the implementation of its automated outbound sales strategy, ZoomInfo’s outbound SDR team achieved a 126% increase in monthly demos.

The process for ZoomInfo’s SDRs is now fully automated to include:

  • A list of the best companies to call
  • Contacts at those companies that are aligned to our use cases and value props
  • Templates and automated sequences to streamline outreach

From there, content is available for each target persona and marketing provides air cover to warm up prospects. With this automated process in place, SDRs have an ideal environment in which to schedule demos.

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