Account-based sales development is a hot topic right now. It is a buzz-worthy term that essentially means that sales development teams sell at the account – as opposed to the lead or individual contact – level.

Selling to an organization, rather than a person, might sound like an idea that is in opposition to the heavily touted “personal touch” that social media has opened up to salespeople in recent years. However, successful account-based sales development strategies are able to personalize and reap the rewards of multi-touch, collaborative sales efforts.

The secret of any great account-based sales development strategy is simple: the sales team develops and leverages personas – just as their marketing counterparts would – to connect with multiple individuals at a single organization.

Account-based selling works because sales teams are able to focus their efforts on a single account, rather than reaching out using the “spray-and-pray” method. The team must strategically think about an account as a whole as well as the individual decision makers at various levels and in various departments throughout. This naturally leads to more targeted content and outreach.

Developing a persona to use as part of your account-based sales development efforts is similar to developing a marketing persona. You begin by looking at the data: what do you know about your prospects? Typically, this will encompass title (are they managers? Executive level?) and department (do they work in IT? Purchasing? Business development?). Which titles and departments within a particular account are most relevant to you will depend on your product and positioning.

From there, work up your content and pitches to address the needs and pain points of each persona. Whether you have one sales rep per account or several, they should all be addressing the basic needs of whichever persona they are connecting with.

Personas are also useful for expanding your account-based sales development beyond sales. This method is ripe for collaboration within your own organization. Your sales team should be talking to your marketing team, business development team and executive team. This enables more focused efforts at all levels: in addition to sending an email to three business development execs at an account, your marketing team can also deliver highly targeted LinkedIn ads or social marketing messages, based on the persona your sales team worked up.

Personas will help you hit a single account with highly targeted messages, across multiple touchpoints. Whether using email, phone calls, social media, or ads, you will maintain a consistent message that is relevant to the decision-makers you ultimately want to convert.