Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Importance of Aligning Inside Sales with Account Management

Inside sales teams and marketing teams are joined at the hip these days and rightfully so. But what about inside sales and account management teams? If we think about client life cycle management, as it relates to sales, it's essentially a trifecta of marketing, sales and account management teams. The term "Smarketing" has gained a lot of traction these days, but it is unfortunately ignoring the account management side of the business. It's time we include the third variable in our equation of client success....account management.

In a lot of companies the relationship between sales and account management is very Hatfield vs. McCoy. It's a very he said she said type of affair. Account Managers think the sales folks are only concerned with making the sale and are not focused on the long-term success of the client. Sales folks believe they are selling to their strengths and at the same time not trying to expose their warts. It's their job to sell the relationship and account management's job to maintain the relationship. This type of mindset is counter-intuitive to running a successful business.

Without superior account management, sales would not get any of their great client referral leads. Without sales, account management wouldn't exist. We need each other, so let's take a giant step at getting on the same team. Here are 6 ideas I have for getting the two teams working as one.

1. Build a client life cycle management doc that lives in your CRM of choice. The document begins with sales and fully describes all of the needs, goals and aspirations of the client. It should include all of the people involved in the decision making process. Once the sale is made it should transition to the account management team. Ideally it is version controlled, so that you can see the changes made by each side.

2. Agree on a cancellation policy up front. For example, if a new client wants to cancel within the first 30 days, which team is going to take the hit? Should the account manager be held to the renewal target of an account that they realistically never had a chance to renew?

3. Agree on a upgrade policy. For example if a client wants to add more products or services within the first 30 days, which team is going to get the credit? If sales is going to be held to cancels within the first 30 days, shouldn't they also be rewarded for upgrades within the first 30 days?

4. Have bi-weekly meetings between the two teams to talk about what is working and what needs to be improved upon.

5. Agree on a escalation policy. For example, if a client is very upset and saying they were mis-sold during the sales cycle, who does the account manager turn to? Do they go straight to the sales rep who sold the deal, their direct boss, or to the boss of the individual sales rep?

6. Have joint team outings.

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