Leads, leads, leads.

That’s all sales reps on your team should care about, right? Well, not exactly.

Leads are obviously vital, but many sales leaders are shifting the focus from individual leads to a system of named accounts. A named account is a specific company or organization assigned to a rep, including multiple contacts within the company. When one lead at a company raises their hand and indicates interest in buying your product, reps chase that lead, but also go after the lead’s co-workers, supervisor, and the CEO.

Many companies shy away from named accounts because it’s more difficult to set up in a CRM. However, it’s worth the effort. Instead of working a long list of unrelated leads, named accounts push reps to take responsibility for engaging multiple prospects within one company. It’s a much more effective way to sell to prospects, and gets results. Here’s why your sales team should stop chasing leads and start working named accounts.

B2B Buying Decisions Involve an Average of 5.4 People

Focusing on leads alone simply doesn’t work for salespeople anymore. In today’s complex B2B sales world, no one ever makes decisions alone. In fact, the typical B2B buying decision now involves an average of 5.4 people, according to research from CEB. This means that sales reps must sell to multiple people at every prospective company. Reps have to get a group consensus that it’s a good decision to buy the product, or the deal will never close. This is incredibly difficult to do if you only have one contact at a company.

Sales reps have to get buy in from multiple people within the organization, including tough-to-convince CFOs and VPs. For example, if a rep relies too heavily on one sales champion to sell the product internally, the sale is at risk. What if that champion goes on vacation for a few weeks, or takes a new job? With just one contact to rely on, the deal could easily push to next month, or completely die. But if reps are working the entire account and can engage with another person at the company, it’s much harder for the opportunity to suddenly go cold.

A Duplication of Efforts Can Kill Your Deal

Reps should have specific accounts assigned to them to work personally. Instead of just chasing a single lead, reps should contact an initial lead at a company, and then dig deeper and work the entire account. This means they should prospect into the account, searching LinkedIn and other sources for relevant contacts and reaching out to multiple people. Reps can also get introduced to other people within the organization through that first contact. Working the account makes it much easier for reps to reach the decision-maker, instead of wasting time with powerless tire-kickers.

This will also minimize the risk of your team accidentally duplicating their sales efforts. For example, without the structure of named accounts, one rep might not realize that a co-worker is already working with a lead at the same company. The second rep will call and try to re-introduce the product, when the prospect’s company is already fully engaged and looking into buying. This isn’t just an annoyance either — it could kill the deal. Prospects will think your company is disorganized and untrustworthy. Working the account prevents this nightmare scenario.

Sell the Right Features to the Right Role

While named accounts reduce the risk of doubling up efforts and improve your ability to sell, this method doesn’t come without challenges. Sales reps cannot approach every contact at the account in the same way. Each person within the company has different needs that sales reps must focus on when selling. As you go through and work the account — starting with a lower-level employee and working your way through management and across departments — make sure you keep your buyer in mind and customize your pitch.

For example, a line-of-business prospect does not have the same wants or needs at the CEO. As you sell, you have to change your value proposition to suit your audience as you work the account. Makes sure that the admin knows how your product will save you time, the manager knows you your product will improve results, and the CEO knows the ROI. Named accounts are often more work, but they give sales reps more control over the messages being communicated to all of the stakeholders involved.

Named accounts aren’t just another option for approaching a sales or categorizing a lead. It’s a systematic change that fundamentally alters the way your reps engage with prospects. Named accounts will push your team to dive deeper, work the entire account, and close more deals.