“Relationship” according to Merriam Webster means “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other”.
Doesn’t that sound familiar, just like selling? All those of us, who are in sales for many years, know that relationships matter and that they make a difference. So, the question is not, if relationships matter. They do. The questions are “HOW do relationships matter and HOW do they make a difference?” and “What kind of sales people apply relationships in which ways?”
Especially in complex B2B selling environments, relationships have a special relevance. More than a few stakeholders have to be on the same page, there are often cross-functional buying groups to be orchestrated as a complex stakeholder network. And the sales teams are often not less complex (More on complexity, please click here).
As there are no silver bullet answers, let’s develop a structure of how to think about it. In my role, I had the pleasure to work with many different sales people and account managers in various situations and cultures. Regardless of culture, role and situation – we could identify two general characteristics – order takers and orchestrators. Both have their specific value and preferences. Both will leverage their full potential in different sales situations.
Characteristics of Order Takers:
- Level of relationships: Order Takers have their preferred relationships in the manager and director area. Most of these relationships are in IT and in procurement, including vendor management. These buyers are focused primarily on efficiency and on budget optimization. They aren’t always involved in all the discussions how a certain problem should be solved. They are always involved, when a general “buy-decision” has to be processed, when RFPs have to be created and processed, when a purchase has to be coordinated across the buying system.
- Stages along the customer’s journey: As a consequence of the preferred relationship levels, order takers and their counterparts are often involved when the customer already made a decision how a certain problem should be solved. Now, they are looking for the right products and services to make their best decision to achieve their goals. At this stage, they are focused on their desired solution, no longer on the initial problem.
- Messaging: Order takers prefer to talk about specific products and services, they focus on competitive advantages as well as unique and specific benefits. They prefer to talk about what a product or a service is and what it does. This is the kind of messaging is required after successful value hypothesis and value propositions, after the customer has made a decision how to solve the problem and knows what to buy.
Characteristics of Orchestrators:
- Level of relationships: Orchestrators prefer to talk to senior executives including C-level, across the customer’s organization, in lines of business and in IT. These stakeholders have an effectiveness and investment focus. Their challenges are e.g. how to improve the top level business objectives, how to use technology to increase effectiveness, how to create potential to grow using B2B2C thinking and the list goes on and on…Having conversations with these stakeholders requires real business acumen, understanding business and IT, based on understanding their expertise.
- Stages along the customer’s journey: Orchestrators involve themselves at the very early stages along the customer’s journey, when problems and challenges are analyzed and when different ideas and approaches are assessed to find the best approach. An orchestrator can create a tremendous value if he/she is able to identify those situations, to provide context and new ideas and perspectives how such a problem could be solved differently and what the best economic impact could be. The leadership moment for any orchestrator: Key to success is not to have all these conversations alone, but to connect the dots to the right stakeholders within the customer’s organization (bring in the right subject matter experts at the right time to the right place).
- Messaging: Orchestrators focus their messaging on the customer’s problems and challenges. What they have to sell is not part of an orchestrator’s initial conversations. They focus on understanding the customer’s situation completely, then they map what they learned to their own portfolio of products and services. Then, they come up with ideas and solutions, based on experiences with other customers, with tailored insights, facts and figures. Their messaging is focused on what a certain solution MEANS for the customers in terms of business outcomes.
A lot of differences – but also a lot of opportunities to leverage a sales team’s full potential:
In general, creating new business requires orchestrators, especially if the desired new business depends on executive decision makers. If new business – for selected products – can also be created with decision makers on a manager/director level, then let the order takers make that business. Maintaining and growing existing business is a perfect role for order takers and they will be highly efficient.
Our different customers buy differently, our sales people sell differently, every complex deal is different, and every complex buying decision is made differently – isn’t it time to check your sales force enablement programs? Are they really tailored along the customer’s journey to support order takers and orchestrators accordingly? What about the sales manager’s coaching maps? Do they reflect those differences? If not, don’t add additional rules and checklists…
It’s time for frameworks and core principles. They are key to success in complex sales environments, as a foundation for enablement services, for sales people and their manager and leaders.
Sales and finance alignment – let’s continue with account segmentation. The previous post was about the root causes of many misunderstandings and how a GoToCustomer approach can improve cross-functional collaboration and results, based on the example of a GoToCustomer account definition.
Now, let’s build on that definition and the discussed perspectives how to identify net and gross growth potential regarding today’s topic – account segmentation.
Ask finance people and they will give you a list with top accounts, segmented by financial lagging indicators and sometimes by already predefined growth targets. But sales needs a different view. Of course, financials are important, but different perspectives on how to grow your business with different accounts in different ways will add much more value to the entire selling system. Then, we definitely need to consider this:
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein
Create a charter together with finance on purpose and goals of account segmentation
Profitable growth can be an overall goal, sales and finance can both agree on: Growth is what both want, profitability is what finance is always asked to make sure. Therefore, account segmentation has to be designed in a way that it helps to achieve this goal.
Then, create a mission statement based on a KPI that is essential for sales both and that’s relevant for profitable growth as well – sales productivity. Here is an example of an account segmentation mission statement that worked pretty well:
“Account segmentation is to get more focus and to improve sales productivity by reducing selling expenses for non-strategic and / or less profitable accounts and transactions and by making the right resources available for strategic accounts and to allow better deal decisions to drive our profitable growth strategy.”
Let’s discuss some related segmentation criteria. Each criteria is important, but a decision on an account segment can only be made when the results of all criteria have been synthesized.
Analyzing current performance:
- Financial indicators:
Order entry, revenue and profit over the last few years help to understand the relevance of an account and how an account performed so far. Add the growth rates for all KPIs that were achieved over the last few years.
- Existing and new business:
Split the revenue over the last years in existing business and new business, however that is defined in your organization
- Account Manager Type:
Without having a special assessment at hand, how would you characterize the current account manager, when in interaction with the customers? Focused on efficiency and budget optimization or more focused on effectiveness (business outcomes)?
Analyzing growth potential
- Add gross and net growth potential:
Use the data on net and gross growth potential you calculated based on the previous post. Verify the numbers with the sales managers to factor in long term contracts that are currently not addressable and similar information.
- Strategic relationships:
Relationships do matter and relevant relationships matter even more. They are the foundation to create new business and to grow and maintain existing business. Senior executive relationships are important if you want to focus on customer outcomes. You can run a complete relationship analysis, or you can create a matrix with level (C level, senior exec.level, VP level, director level, manager level, SME and others), function (lines of business or IT) and the quality of those relationships.
- Level of value creation:
This is much more than a white spot analysis, which is an inside-out tool. Value creation is the criteria from a GoToCustomer perspective. What is the value you create for this account currently and what do you want to achieve? Is that of strategic relevance for them? Do you tackle their effectiveness and their business outcomes? Or do you focus on budget optimization and efficiency?
Synthesizing – create context across the different criteria to get a holistic view for each account
- Look at the results of existing and new business and the account manager type:
In many cases, there will be a correlation between efficiency oriented account managers and existing business and between effectiveness oriented account managers and new business. This is relevant for an optimized resource allocation
- Look at the results of strategic relationships and account manager type: If a person is more focused on efficiency, this account will normally have less senior executive relationships, if at all. If the person has more an effectiveness focus, you will see more senior executive relationships in better quality.
- Look at the gross and net growth potential, at the relationship potential and the value creation potential together:
Make sure that an account has enough executive level relationships if you want to grow quickly. And make sure that an effectiveness oriented account manager is on this account.
- Check high revenue volume (from your perspective), profitability and an already synthesized view on growth potential:
Decide whether you want to focus on revenue growth and/or on profitability growth.
Finally, how do you define and how do you call your account segments?
This is very specific, depending on an organization’s culture and current situation. In general, I wouldn’t use more than four segments. You can label them with numbers or letters, or you can define a name per each segment, which is easier to communicate.
Try to build clusters that are based on your synthesized results and are focused on e.g. the level of value creation – outcomes, effectiveness on the one hand and efficiency and budget optimization on the other hand.
Create sub categories in the effectiveness/outcome cluster and in the efficiency/budget optimization cluster to distinguish in each category between strong growing accounts (including prospect accounts) and slow growing accounts that are maybe more focused on profit.
There are many more possibilities to define the segments – but make sure, that they support your overall segmentation goal, finance and sales agreed on together.
Most of the discussions on cross-functional collaboration are about sales and marketing alignment, which is exactly, how I started this topic a few weeks ago.
Today, let’s discuss how sales and finance can take advantage of a GoToCustomer approach. Often, people assume that different personality types are the main reason why sales and finance relationships are not always easy. That’s comprehensible, but in my experience the challenges have two main root causes:
Sales and Finance have a different view on KPIs – let’s look at leading and lagging indicators
Finance is more focused on how to measure different KPIs, for instance order entry and revenue, and how to process the numbers correctly according to accounting standards. There is more focus on lagging indicators, on the numbers that are measured as results of a closed deal.
Sales is more focused on managing and influencing all activities across the field to make sure that these numbers are made – then, they can be measured. Therefore, sales needs more focus on leading indicators such as conversion rates or number and quality of prospecting calls. Of course, sales also measures results, such as order entry and revenue, but the correct accounting is then based on finance processes. This is where the interfaces between CRM and ERP are discussed. Sales needs both, leading and lagging indicators, but it depends on the level within a sales organization, where your focus is or should be. A front line sales manager should be more focused on the quality of the sales activities that lead to the team’s numbers – which is why coaching is so important especially in this role. Second line sales managers and sales directors are focused on sales objectives and the quality of sales activities, whereas the CSO/VP Sales roles are more focused on sales and business objectives.
Based on the different purposes both functions have, understanding these different views is essential. Bringing these differences to the conscious mind is the first step. The second one is then to work together on clear definitions to improve collaboration and to achieve better results.
Sales and Finance use the same terms, but have a different understanding
The term “forecast” is such an example – but definitely worth to write a separate post. “Account” is another term which is often used in sales and finance, but not defined the same way.
Often, sales people look at an account with a strong focus on their current business (current business, installed services, related relationships etc.) Which means, people look at a few budget centers and at a few business units (“an account is an account – why even asking?”). This perspective is self-limiting, because you don’t see the full potential you actually have. But accounts have to grow and if you want to grow your business, this perspective is not helpful. Finance looks at accounts as reporting objects, but they normally have a definition, as usual in finance.
You get the picture! The finance and sales perspectives are different, a common design point is missing. Both look at an “account” from their own internal perspective.
“We cannot use the same way of thinking to solve a problem, we used when we created the problem.” (Albert Einstein).
This is why a GoToCustomer approach can help to improve your collaboration with finance significantly, by identifying one common design point – the customers. Now, let’s think backwards from the customers, let’s think outside-in.
The GoToCustomer account definition works outside-in
Take the highest legal entity and connect all business units or divisions – you name them – to this highest legal entity. This is a 1:n relation. Then, connect all budget centers that are relevant for your business to these business units. Now, we have a 1:n:n relation.
What’s the rationale of such a definition? Prepare the sales system to leverage your growth potential!
If an account gets defined like this for the first time, it’s often a challenging exercise, due to traditional view points. I have often seen accounts which had a CEO, an IT and a finance unit. Lines of business? No way. It’s a change process. It’s about understanding how an organization is structured from their perspective, how decisions are made and where all the relevant business units and budget centers are.
Calculate your gross and net growth potential, outside-in
Take the revenue numbers from your accounts (the revenue they have in their own markets), then take a benchmark regarding the relevant budgets as a percentage of their revenue (e.g. 5% IT spending, in industry xyz), calculate the two numbers and you have your gross growth potential – 100% wallet share, as Dave Brock explained perfectly here . Then, take your revenue you currently make with this account and build the difference. That’s your net potential, naked and pure. And you will see your real wallet share.
This exercise is simple, but most effective. Whenever I presented those figures, it was much more than an eye opener. It always opened a totally different discussion on new business and driving growth.
What’s in it for sales and finance?
- Key to effectiveness and optimized resource allocation:
The number of accounts, defined outside-in, will often be smaller than before. An advantage for both functions, because less data records have to be maintained, but with more transparency. Due to a reduced number of accounts, sales managers can merge teams that worked in parallel before (or against each other without being aware of that). Growth potential across accounts can be leveraged much better. But don’t mix up account management with territory management at this point.
- Key to efficiency based on another level of transparency on growth potential:
This exercise on net and gross growth potential creates transparency and the required context for every sales leader to really understand your sales system’s growth potential. A must have for the next step, which is account segmentation (then with individual assessments) and a must have for any kind of account performance reviews.
- Perfect preparation for growth-oriented account segmentation…
…which also needs a common foundation for sales and finance – sales productivity. Based on that, account segmentation with different dimensions (not everything that matters is measurable) creates added value for sales and finance.
Account segmentation will be our next topic.
“What a question” I hear you, “of course, I know who my customers are and I know them pretty well” Wait a minute and let’s have a look at the variety of answers you can get asking this question across the organization.
“My customers are the VPs for Network Operations”, “I’m calling on the directors and VPs for Application Management”, “I’m selling to Vendor Management”, “I’m selling to senior executives”, “I’m selling higher now”. Other people said “our customers are the Fortune500 corporations” and “we are selling to Dax30 corporations”. Others said “our customers are the CxOs in the xyz industries” and the list goes on and on…
These are answers from sales, marketing and finance. People made these statements from their own departmental perspective, their current situation, based on their own, often unconscious, customer view. Additionally, think about the variety of initiatives that collect customer intelligence and provide customer insights. How many do you count across your organization? Ten, twenty, more? You are in good company, it’s a common scenario in large organizations.
Imagine, you have to design a framework for an entire sales system in a complex selling environment – and you get these answers. Then, you are still confused, but on a higher level, right? What I learned so far: There is no successful way to reduce the matter to a common denominator AND to make it valuable for the entire sales system. Instead, we should change our thinking in the first place.
Albert Einstein nails it: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Assumption: We distinguish between organizations (legal and contract view) and the people we are selling to (relationship view).
Often, both are named “customers”, but in my experience, it’s much easier to call the organization an “account” and the people “customers” or “buyers”. It simplifies many conversations across the organization.
Step 1: Define accounts in a legal way from the outside to the inside.
An account can consist of several layers: Take the highest legal entity of an organization – as they are organized, not as we look at them. Underneath, you can connect several business units or divisions, and within these business units or divisions, you can connect all relevant budget centers. Find more on the legal account definition here.
Step 2: Let’s look at a few dimensions to define customers in a holistic way
- What’s their level in the organization’s hierarchy?
Are they on a functional level, SME, manager, director, senior director, VP, SVP/EVP or C level?
- What’s their function?
Are they working in the lines of business or within IT (in case you are selling IT related services)? Build a number of categories for lines of business (e.g. sales, marketing, HR, Finance, Controlling, production) as well as for IT (e.g. Application Management, Desktop Management, Network Operations, User Help Desk, Infrastructure, IT Strategy)
- What’s their primary focus – efficiency or effectiveness?
In case you sell primarily to procurement or to managers, also vendor managers, their focus is often budget optimization and efficiency. These roles are often involved as impacted stakeholders at later stages along the customer’s journey. And they drive the buying process, if their challenges are focused on process optimization and efficiency within a certain domain and/or if contracts have to be renewed.
In case you sell primarily to executives (lines of business or IT), their focus is often effectiveness and investment, sometimes with a B2B2C perspective. They have to master complex domain-specific or cross-functional challenges of strategic relevance. Their desired business outcomes are focused on effectiveness, and the solutions they are looking for are an enabler along this change management journey.
- What’s the scope of their problems and challenges?
In which domains and for which processes? This question details what was clustered above in efficiency and investment focus. Build on the results from the first three questions and – depending on your business – think about typical problems and challenges and cluster them in the two groups above: efficiency, effectiveness. Think also about domain-specific versus cross-functional challenges, blending business and IT.
All dimensions so far are basic ingredients to design the right value messages for the customers regarding the “why change” and the “why you” story, along the customer’s journey.
- How does the stakeholder network look like?
Map your customers as defined so far and map them to the entire account structure. Build a map and analyze each relationship in terms of e.g. quality, trust, perception and most important – how are these customers working together? Who influences whom for which decisions? You get the picture. It’s time for a power map. Don’t forget to identify the relationship gaps and define activities how to get access. Think about relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders for the problems and challenges you have identified – to have a general view you can use as a foundation for opportunities and to be able to tailor value messages for different stakeholders.
Almost done: At which stage along the customer’s journey are they involved?
Now, as we have a pretty clear picture of our customers, let’s map who is involved when along their customer’s journey for which problem/challenge scope? Before a problem occurs, when a problem occurs, but the impact is not yet understood, or after problem and impact are pretty clear? When they are already thinking about solutions, when the solution is already designed, or after the RFP is created and the formal buying process is started? Compare these results with the power map you created before and analyze the gaps. A great exercise for an entire organization and for each single account team to check where those strategic relationship gaps are and how to close them.
A lot of work – Why?
To achieve simplicity – key to drive effectiveness and growth
Such a customer model equips people to navigate complexity with a few clear principles and dimensions that are based on one design point – the customers are at the core.
Due to the fact, that customers are defined outside-in with several dimensions that build on each other, different people and different teams can use what’s relevant to them: Finance will only need the account definition. A strategic account team will need all dimensions, and content creating groups will need most of the dimensions. But it is still ONE model.
To get there is hard work, but it’s worth it:
Such a model creates efficiency, transparency and clarity and simplicity.
Simplicity is one of the prerequisites for growth!
A few months ago, I started to write about one of the missing pieces in many sales enablement discussions – the sales managers. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: Sales Enablement and Sales Management – Enable Your Sales Managers First
In the next couple of weeks, I will discuss how to enable and how to equip first and second line sales managers in an effective and integrated way to be able to leverage the full potential of sales organizations in terms of sales productivity, growth and transformation.
Today, we will focus on a simple, but integrated foundation for sales managers, the “Round Pegs In Round Holes” framework.
I’m very happy, that “Round Pegs In Round Holes” is part of the Top Sales World – Top Sales Academy – Sales Management Curriculum. It’s module 9, June 4th:1 pm EST, 6pm GMT, 7pm GMT+1.
Not registered yet? Here is the link: Top Sales World Academy – Registration
This framework is based on our findings and our experiences, that many sales managers feel supported (from “somehow” up to “pretty well”) regarding their tactical challenges to make their numbers quarter by quarter. But very often, they don’t feel supported pretty well regarding their strategic mid- and long term challenges, especially not, when it comes to change and transformation.
One of the reasons is simple, but underestimated and overlooked: It’s the gap between changing business strategies and pretty inflexible sales execution models, that aren’t pretty well aligned. This challenge is even bigger in organizations that experienced many acquisitions over the last years. Then, many different piece parts exist in parallel, without being connected to a big picture in order to execute the current business strategy successfully. In those situations, sales managers may find many different piece parts – and what are they doing if the piece parts don’t fit together? They either switch off the noise or they use what they always used and what helped them in the past. Not the most effective approach, right? Here is an idea what to do about it.
In those situations, sales managers may find seller roles, functions, profiles and assessments, often driven by HR. Somewhere else, they may find buyer role models, power maps in account plans, often driven by Sales Operations, Strategy or Enablement. Additionally, they get account segmentation results, that are often driven by Finance only. And the list goes on and on…The special challenge though is – these piece parts are not connected pretty well within a sales execution model. Additionally, there might be a gap to the business strategy.
The “Round Pegs in Round Holes Framework” is based on a few core ideas and principles:
- First, sales managers have tactical and strategic challenges:
Managing sales behaviors to achieve better results AND fighting organizational drags and comfort zones to drive transformation in a changing economy.
- Second, “people buy from people”:
I’m a firm believer of relationships as the foundation of every sale (but I don’t mean order takers!), even if some people out there try to explain the opposite. Relevant relationships matter even more. Science and art meet exactly at the intersection, when it comes to the question, how to pair different sellers and different buyers to valuable relationships, not only to maintain existing business, but to create significantly more new business.
- Third, “not everything that matters, can be measured”:
Account segmentation is often a finance driven, facts and figures based exercise – inside-out. We need to integrate the growth potential in our account segmentation processes, in terms of strategic relationships and specific portfolio capabilities.
- Fourth, no “one size fits all” approaches regarding growth strategies:
Let’s think about different growth strategies, mapped to strategic and transactional account segments to identify what’s the most effective strategy right now.
Join the session on Tuesday! Let’s discuss, how to apply such an integrated sales management framework based on people’s selling and buying preferences, mapped to account segments and tailored growth strategies.
In case you have any questions or comments beforehand, please share them!
Maybe, you were already waiting for part 3…
I was asked, why I would plan to write about account management execution and the role of sales management: “Isn’t that pretty clear?” and “where is the link to sales enablement anyway?”
First, sales enablement in my opinion has to be a strategic, cross-functional end2end discipline, not only designed to equip sales people to make their quarterly numbers, but first and foremost to lead sales organizations to master the 21st century challenges – the challenges of a connected economy from push to pull – to create more value and to achieve profitable growth goals. This is why I prefer to design all enablement practices backwards from the entire customer’s journey, tailored for a complex set of customer stakeholders (GoToCustomer). Especially in a named account strategy, there is a lot to do for a strategic sales enablement discipline.
Second, I do see an urgent need to address this topic, because account management execution is where we are often facing the same dilemma, year by year: We don’t create enough new business with our strategic accounts. Then, it’s easy to blame people, the process or the “useless” account plans. OK, people can be on the wrong accounts, the process might not be the most compelling one, and yes, many organizations don’t focus on how to create valuable account plans (see also part 2). But, after twenty years in this business, I’m pretty sure, that we have to look deeper to identify the root causes. These are the top causes:
- Account management and the sales process are not pretty well integrated, the big picture is missing
- Sales managers and also sales operations are often too much focused on fixing the quarter. Then, the strategic focus gets lost and too many resources are used to maintain existing business and to process short-term opportunities. Consequently, not enough resources are spent on the development of future growth.
Execution: GoToCustomer Account Management and the Sales Process
Execution is, as my friend Dave Brock would say, “where the rubber meets the road”. It is a mystery to me, why exactly here – at this important interface – so many organizations don’t pay enough attention. On the one hand, we have opportunity management including lead qualification on a tactical level. On the other hand, we have strategic account management activities, that are not directly connected to a specific lead or opportunity, for instance relationship cadence plans to build new, relevant relationships. These strategic activities should remain within the account management process, which is why we don’t call it account planning, but account management, which includes execution, dashboards and reviews.
As soon as leads (here the leads that are created by account planning activities), become opportunities, the sales process should be the leading process – but only for this specific opportunity! Keep account management on a strategic level and keep opportunity management on a tactical level, to ensure effectiveness for the account and for the opportunities. This principle sounds so simple, but it’s very often overlooked.
Reasons for a missing account management / sales process connection:
- Account planning and account management are not designed as a strategic and iterative cycle.
- Account planning is considered as an annual exercise (often still in power point or excel) and nobody cares about the account growth strategies during the year.
- Sales culture and the sales management culture are more opportunistic than strategic
- Sales operations is focused on opportunity management only
- The role of sales managers is considered to deliver the numbers, not to develop strategic accounts, and the list goes on and on…
A few principles how to connect the dots between account management and the sales process:
- Define the strategic, more holistic purpose of account management and the more tactical and narrow purpose of the sales process, and explain where the interface exactly is – in both directions (use e.g. leads, opportunities and performance data as indicators)
- Design a balance between the broader account view and the more narrow opportunity view – along the entire sales process. In case you are working in complex business with specific bid teams and bid managers, make sure, that the account manager has a strong voice along the sales process.
- Make sure that there is one activity management process per account and make also sure that people can see whether an activity is connected to a specific lead or opportunity or not.
- Connect the dots between account segmentation, sales process and sales operations process accordingly to make sure, that decisions regarding resources are made in a conscious and comprehensible way.
- Focus on the role of sales managers – they have to make sure that their account teams can balance the strategic and the tactical level to ensure value creation and profitable growth.
Account Reviews and the Role of Sales Management
In order to avoid that every review ends up in an opportunity review, we should define the purpose and the frequency of account reviews. The sales managers are accountable when it comes to account reviews.
- Account plan reviews:
The purpose is to check, to understand and to challenge the account plan on a regular basis. If account plans are set up once a year, you need this review only once a year. Everything else will be covered with the account performance review. What’s the growth ambition according to the account segment and the budget? Did they develop a win-win vision with the customer? What kind of growth strategies are described? Did the account team analyze precisely the account’s strategic initiatives and challenges? Are the new business ideas connected to these initiatives and challenges, and designed to make the numbers? Where does the team needs support? Did the account team work within their comfort zone or did they step out of it, and so forth…
- Account performance reviews:
You should define a regular cadence, maybe once a quarter or twice a year, according to the rhythm of your business. The purpose of this review is to focus on the account’s performance only, ideally based on the data of a specific account dashboard. How is the account’s performance, based on the account plan and what was discussed during the plan review? In general, there are three possibilities: The account is outperforming, the account is performing pretty well or the account is not performing as planned.
Whatever the situation might be, it’s important to focus on coaching the account team to help them to achieve better results and to focus on the mid and long term growth of these accounts. Account performance reviews are also an ideal meeting to discuss the relationship cadence and to decide where the sales managers or other executives should step in and for which reasons.
In each case, there could be a need to adjust the account’s current segment – which brings us back to part 1, the account foundation.
I hope you enjoyed this series and you could find a few valuable ideas. We covered the foundation with outside-in account definition and account segmentation, we discussed GoToCustomer based account planning and we discussed the importance of a strong connection between account management and the sales process and why sales managers have such a crucial role in making account teams successful.
Our job as sales enablement professionals is to equip both, the account teams and the sales managers to ensure that especially the strategic accounts can execute their growth strategies successfully – ideally based on a win-win vision, in a collaborative, valuable way for both.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
How do you connect the dots?