This is the Part 3 in our series, The Intelligent CRM.
The human spine is core to our skeletal architecture as information flows through it (via nerves) and our head, organs, and limbs are linked to it. The account database is similarly critical to the CRM as all other core operations are dependent on it and linked to it.
Your Key Sales Motions Are Connected to Accounts
In Salesforce, there are a few key data structures that are the building blocks of the CRM’s information architecture: e.g. Accounts, Leads, Contacts, and Opportunities.
- An “Account” is a company.
- “Leads” and “Contacts” are unusual in that they both represent a person, which is a topic we cover in more depth in The Missing Company Problem.
- Opportunities are the way we represent a potential deal and associate a $ value to a chance to win a company’s business. Opportunities are linked to Accounts and Contacts.
Accounts are therefore essential in CRM workflows in two key ways:
- Opportunities are what turn into revenue, which requires the existence of an Account (and Contacts at that Account).
- Leads, which are people you may want to interact with can “convert” into Contacts only when the Account they work for exists in your CRM.
In the CRM’s information architecture, Accounts are critical for both the connection of employees to their companies and the creation of Opportunities, both of which are necessary to drive revenue.
Everything else you do in your CRM is tied to your customers’ and prospects’ Accounts.
For this reason, your database of Accounts is a critical registry - a spine that everything else connects to - for all your potential customers.
As a result, in outbound sales organizations, a critical limiting factor for your revenue generation is the availability of all of your target Accounts in your CRM. Thus, a fundamental measure of your CRM is the quality of its core Account data.
In B2B, we sell to businesses. While we interact with people representing those businesses, the money comes from the company. That’s why we call it “Business-to-Business.” In any enterprise B2B sale, there are multiple stakeholders across the organization that agree on behalf of their business to purchase, but if you’re looking to drive more business, it’s important to know which businesses will be your best customers.
If the registry of all possible customers is incomplete and corrupted, then the rest of your go-to-market engine is not running efficiently.
Account Data Affects Sales and Marketing Alignment
As account-based strategies grow in prominence, B2B sales and marketing teams are tasked with balancing lead-based inbound flow with account-based marketing (ABM) strategies. This contributes to misalignment on pipeline prioritization and reporting criteria, and can ultimately contribute to friction between sales and marketing teams.
Misalignment occurs because CRM leads are isolated from accounts. This is difficult because of a technical gap in the way CRM systems are generally structured; CRM leads are typically not associated to a company until they are manually qualified. Company-level information, if it does exist, may be isolated on other leads or on a separate account object within the CRM.
With every core sales motion, downstream marketing campaign, and quarterly report connected to those Accounts, it’s unacceptable that the spine of your prospective customers is so unstable.
If you’re like most B2B companies, your CRM Account data is a mess. Our data shows that the core of most B2B companies’ sales operations are a disaster, fraught with missed accounts, hidden companies, and duplicate and corrupted data.
This is especially important because your CRM is the system of record for the sales team to the enterprise - it needs to be right all the time. It needs to be rigorously protected and updated. Why does this continue to be a problem for the world’s largest software industry? The problem is rooted in some fundamental issues in the way our CRMs work, which I cover in The Empty Filing Cabinet and The Missing Company Problem.
Or, check out the Intelligent CRM.