Welcome back. Now since the decision has been made to move forward with a Named Account Model (NAM) and all information has been communicated to interested parties, as reviewed in Part 1, it is time to start planning. Now, I don’t want this to turn into a change management how-to guide, that’s for another time, what the focus is here is the NAM. Planning for your Named Account Model has 2 distinct phases of planning of completely equal importance.
- Your Ideal Customer Profile, planning the companies that should be on your named account list.
- Your NAM Scope, what are you implementing.
I have spent far too many hours trying to figure out how to introduce these in a post and have decided that they just do not fit well together, so I am separating them. In this post, the focus is creating your Ideal Customer Profile, and building your actual list of accounts.
Where to Start
When you create your list of Named Accounts, I think we can all agree that the companies on your list should not be selected by you wearing a blindfold pulling company names out of a fishbowl, am I right? You want to create a list of companies to target because they will be high revenue accounts for your product. If you know what companies are your “big dogs” or “high rollers” currently, you can create a profile for your “ideal customer”, and target companies that fit that profile. I really REALLY want to stress here that selecting the biggest, wealthiest, most popular companies because of the fact that they are have uber revenue and/or you want their name associated with yours, is not the right process. If they don’t match the criteria of current customers, they just be customers because you put them on a list and want them to. You need to find your sweet spot.
Admin Tip: Stellar results are not likely using generic lists (E.g. F500 list) or another company’s target list for your named account list.
Step One: Get Everyone Together
To find the sweet spot, it is best to gather together Sales, Marketing, Leadership, and your CEO (for companies of appropriate size). You will want to setup a half-day meeting for everyone to gather together for the ideal customer discussion. Sales & Marketing alignment is absolutely totally, completely, required for this project to be successful, and therefore, both parties must be in agreement on the ideal customer persona before building your list.
For creation of the actual list of companies on the Named Account List, I follow the process Jennifer Pockell-Wilson, VP Marketing & Demand Operations at Demandbase used for her Named Account List. You can hear her amazing webinar, “The Art and Science of Building the Perfect Named Account List”. If you are building a NAM, I highly recommend listening, it is a great webinar. She points out that sales and marketing might both have their idea of the “ideal customer”, but that in no way means that the sales “ideal customer” = marketing “ideal customer”. To have a solid foundation and a rock solid named account list, don’t start with two teams thinking two different thoughts. That’s where this meeting comes in.
|WHO:||Sales, Marketing, Leadership from both teams, and related executives.|
|WHAT:||Meeting where each person reviews their ideal customer’s attributes|
|WHY:||[This is where I throw you for a loop] To determine the trusted data source for each attribute so the ideal customer research sources can be determined.|
That’s right, this meeting is NOT to determine the attributes of your ideal customer. This meeting is to determine the trusted data source for each attribute, so you can begin your analysis. If the interested parties do not trust the data source, they will not trust the persona. If they don’t trust the persona, they don’t trust the list. If they don’t trust the list, you’re doomed. So let’s start from the top shall we…
- Going around the room, have each person in the meeting go through their description of their ‘ideal customer”.
- Have someone writing down the attributes listed
- Once everyone has had their turn, from the top of the list, and for each attribute determine the source that is trusted
- Once everyone agrees on the source for each attribute, you can schedule the next meeting to review the data. Make sure to give yourself enough time.
|Industry= Technology||Our biggest customer is in the software industry||Salesforce Accounts|
|VP in Buyer Role||Recall approving more contracts with VP signature||Salesforce Opp Contact Roles|
|B2B Sales||Well Sell Advertising, consumers don’t really buy advertising||Salesforce Accounts|
|They are dog people not cat people||Our customer pet day has more dogs than cats||Spreadsheet on Bob’s laptop|
This is an example of the attribute to source list, The reason why is not necessary, but when I do my research, I find it easier to remember what exactly I am looking for in terms of “why are they assuming this?” and, in cases of unusual attributes, what the attribute is dominate over/what attributes are related. Not only does it help me verify what b is and that a is greater than b, but it shows me a pattern, and I use that pattern to compare other data to determine unknown attributes.
Being the Admin you are probably one of the analysts also, meaning you need to go through all the data and see what the attributes are and aren’t when it comes to “ideal”. The attributes listed in the meeting are a great foundation for what types of attributes to look at but they should by no means be your limit. You want to dig deeper, find the actual profile for your ideal customer. You will find additional similarities across your customers, make sure to add them to the list. Find your data zen, analyze the data, get to know the data, become ONE with the data.
This will take time, it will not be easy, and you will probably become frustrated a time or two, but keep your eye on the prize. Building the list right this time means you won’t be re-doing the whole project next quarter.
So if everyone said Salesforce is the trusted source for every attribute, you are so lucky. Most likely, you are not I that boat and will need to collect data from multiple sources, that’s ok, just keep consistent columns and put everything into one spreadsheet. I find it best to make sure you are looking at only the past 18-24 months of customers. That would be all accounts that were customers at one point and time over the past 18-24 months. Your former customers are important too, so you can see your churn pattern.
Salesforce is supposed to make our lives easier, so have it do some of this work for you. You will want the following fields to get you started with your analysis:
Missing Data Points
We don’t all have 100% data quality, and that sucks, but luckily there are resources for that. If you are missing high priority data points on your accounts, you will want to update. To find out the status of your accounts before pulling, try Cloudingo, Data.com Clean Reports, or something similar from the AppExchange.
If after checking your data you feel you need more work than an afternoon, you will want to postpone your assessment and do a data scrub project first. Remember, this is a Named Account Project not a data quality project, remember the line. You don’t need to clean everything at this second, but your data strategy is a huge part of this project, and if your data sucks, things won’t go well.
Other things to lookout for include:
- Legacy picklist values (be through, compare your Account Industry picklist values to the Leads Industry picklist values
- Are customers marked as “Current” when their contract end date is in the past? What about accounts listed as prospects with an active contract?
- Are free-trail customers labled as customers and former customers even though there was never a contract? You only want customers that have purchased your product on your analysis list.
Here’s the deal, you are about to load a TON of data it the system, you need to start with a clean(er) slate. But lets say you do have clean data (gold star for you), now what. Well now you need to break down your data so many many ways you think you are going mad. My preference is to use a template, where I group each data point into a 3 or 5 tier ranking and with that, conditional formatting to easily spot trends.
Now I find the following fields super handy to have in Salesforce already (and maintained) so I don’t need to do more work in Excel. Have the system work for you to increase your efficiency & reduce your chance of errors and stress. Now, keep in mind you are totally allowed to color outside the lines, you can look at any data you want about these customers/former customers, you might end up finding the sweet spot is something nobody ever would have guessed.
Once you have a handle on the data and you have found your attributes, create a list with sources, you probably will need to prove some in your meeting, and stop your data analysis. Don’t tinker with the profile after you have your attributes. You need to go to this meeting to discuss the profile, you might need to make a few adjustments, but so long as everyone agrees in your next meeting, you now know what type of companies to pull for your list.
Up next we will be covering the implementation details, hacks, gotchas, and usability recommendations for your customizations and configurations. I will make sure you don’t have to wait as long for Part 3 as it took for Part 2.