What is the Definition of a Sales Account

Outside of BizXpand, I, Matt Mayfield, am often involved in large, VC funded SaaS companies in a role as interim Sales Ops. A constant philosophic question is ‘what is a Sales Account’.  Are VW and Audi the same Account? Is VW Germany and VW USA the same Account? Is VW Sales America the same Account as VW Service America?

 

Sales Account versus Accounting

Firstly, an Account for the purposes of Accounting is different than an Account for the purposes of Sales.

For Sales people, an Account is a single Decision entity– one decision group speaks for the entire group. In contrast, for Accounting, an Account is a unique billing entity– if they are billed together, then they are the same account. This then leads to:

  1. It is obvious why ERP and CRM are separate systems and why ERP makers to offer CRM become products salespeople hate.
  2. How can you tell what decisions are centralized vs distributed in different companies?

 

To the second question, you can’t tell. Good CRM systems constantly change the structure of accounts as they learn more about the company. In my past, a software vendor first had Roche NJ as an Account, later it was rolled into Roche Global (CH). Later, with new information, it reverted to two different Accounts again when the product finally sold.  This is not a bug, this is a feature.

 

What is a Sales Lead in that Respect?

When you are generating leads and customer demand/interest, at what point should you stop trying to get new leads from the same group?

Ie. you have a meeting with Robert at Siemens Medical CH, do you stop trying to get a meeting with Lee in Siemens Heavy Industries Japan for fear of Lee or Robert getting angry? This one is easy, the obvious answer is no– the risk is near zero and the damage even if it happened is unlikely to be big.

The problem gets worse when you think about related companies (eg. VW and Audi) or even fellow portfolio companies of the same investor (eg. A16Z portfolio).  Data services like ZoomInfo offer this type of hierarchy data, but it is provided with the usual ‘marketing quality’ — ie. 70% accurate based on my analysis of a few data sets.

 

When to stop reaching out to other contacts?

At BizXpand, we make the following assumptions

  1. At the beginning, you want as many points of contact as possible. Once a relationship develops, starting new relationships may strain the developed relationship. So long as the relationship is just in its beginning, benefits of multiple contacts is far greater than potential relationship strain with the one and only contact you have.
  2. Centralization of decision making is rare. Centralized veto is common, but triggering events to start with a new supplier or purchase usually happens from a decentralized way– even from a single individual.
  3. The only real exceptions are very small companies where you get the full attention of the primary decision maker– eg. CEO and owner of a small company was your first meeting.

 

By default, we try to get multiple meetings unless or until we are explicitly asked to stopped. Occasionally, there is an awkward message to urgently remove some targets, but this is extremely rare and almost always manageable. Sales People or Business Development People who fear small mistakes to that level usually are not a great match for any scalable sales or lead generation strategy.

Always important, is at a person level never to reach out to someone you already know well and/or in an ongoing communication as if they are a cold introductions.  Black/suppression lists are important. It is here that the lead generation department/agency can spoil their collaborative relationship with sales.

 

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