Account management requires a totally different toolset and skillset than the capturing of new sales. It’s vital to any company involved with sales.
Account Management Defined
It’s a fact that maintaining and upselling an existing account is less difficult and costly than the winning of a new account. Yet account management still requires planning, resources, time, and energy. Account management maintains customers beyond the basic SaaS approach. Account management also needs to be embedded in CRM—and in the next few months, we will be expanding Pipeliner’s account management capabilities.
What are the elements of account management? They would be account size, revenue planning, plans to enlarge an account, and cross-selling and upselling strategies. Of course, research must occur before planning, so that you understand which account even makes sense to plan for. Some accounts have high potential, and others low potential. You must look over your accounts, and decide which are strategically important.
Hiring the Appropriate Salespeople
Planning must accommodate the salesperson who managemes and sells into accounts–the account rep. As I said in the beginning, account management has its own skillset above and beyond just that of selling. Additionally, an account manager must be positively supported by technology so that they can immediately see all the potential, possibilities and issues of any particular account.
Account management should oftentimes be managed strategically based on its size. Working with a large enterprise is very different from working with a young, dynamic company striving to move forward. Where there is a parent company and subsidiaries, there are issues specific to selling and account-managing them. One issue can be that despite a company being a subsidiary of a parent company, it can have relative autonomy to make its own business decisions.
When dealing in a parent-subsidiary situation, it would obviously be ideal to win the parent company’s business first. But in reality, unless your company is a substantial enterprise in itself, you’ll often be dealing with subsidiary companies or even departments of a subsidiary or parent companies. It’s more like a grassroots movement because you’re working from the bottom up instead of the top down. How you proceed should be part of your overall planning—you might start with one department and spread out to 20.
Take Politics Into Account
When selling to different departments and subsidiaries, you must always beware of internal politics, no matter how obvious they are or aren’t. One subsidiary might be favoring one solution of your type, and another might be favoring a different one. Because you’re an outside vendor, you won’t have a real insight into the company. Even if you have a “spy”—someone within the company to provide you with “inside skinny”—you may still not have the full picture. Proceed with caution.
Account Management Importance
Why is it important to treat account management as its own role? Expert and excellent account management provide your company with a steady flow of revenue. Efficient account management builds strong relationships, and through that provides predictability. You’re able to say with some degree of confidence that a particular account will bring you a certain amount of revenue in the coming year.
In this series, we’ll go into considerable detail about account management: planning, commission structure, and the approach to activities.