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The Advantages of Using an Account-Based Salesforce

For enterprise sales teams, our recommendation is for leads to only be used for inbound signups and accounts/contacts to be used for all other outreach purposes. The main concept is that sales reps sell into companies and not individual people.

When switching to or building out an account-based Salesforce, it is our recommendation to take the time to build out and upload your total addressable market. This way accounts can be segmented and assigned to individual sales reps from the beginning. This may be a tall task, but it will save a ton of time down the road.

Problems with a Lead-Based Salesforce

1) Difficult to manage account segmentation and owners, as each lead has an individual owner and leads can have varying company information.

2) Inability to qualify or unqualify entire accounts. When a lead’s company is deemed unqualified, a rep must search for all the other leads under that company to disqualify them.

3) No tracking of accounts and their stages through the sales funnel.

Advantages of an Account-Based Salesforce

1) Sales reps can own an entire account. This can be set up by territory, vertical, or any other qualifications. Account ownership prevents sales reps from modifying or contacting accounts they do not own.

2) Sales managers can track account metrics through the sales funnel. At Pipestry, we setup account statuses that are updated as contacts progress through the sales cycle. These status changes trigger date stamp fields on the account which enable for weekly reporting on overall account progress through the sales funnel.

3) Reps can create a view of all the relevant decision makers and view all the relevant account activities, which tells a story of previous outreach, interactions and progress.

4) Sales reps can qualify and unqualify entire accounts. This prevents contacts at unqualified accounts receiving unnecessary outreach and visa versa.

Here are the contact and account statuses we recommend (account statuses are automatically updated as contact statuses are updated and progressed through the sales funnel):

Contact Statuses

- Researching (Default)
- Contacting (Can be automatically updated by sales prospecting tools)
- Responded (Can be automatically updated by sales prospecting tools)
- Meeting Set (Manual)
- Meeting Held (Manual)
- Unresponsive (Can be automatically updated by sales prospecting tools)
- Reach Back Out (Manual)
- Unqualified - Bounced (Can be automatically updated by sales prospecting tools)
- Unqualified - Unsubscribed (Can be automatically updated by sales prospecting tools)
- Unqualified - Not Interested (Manual)
- Unqualified - Wrong Person (Manual)
- Unqualified - No Longer w/ Company (Manual)
- Unqualified - Account Unqualified (Manual)
- Do Not Contact (Manual)

Account Statuses

- Researching (Default stage for new account)
- Contacting (Automatically updated when first contact is set to “Contacting”)
- Responded (Automatically updated when first contact is set to “Responded”)
- Meeting Set (Automatically updated when first contact is set to “Meeting Set”)
- Meeting Held (Automatically updated when first contact is set to “Meeting Held”)
- Opportunity (Automatically updated when an opportunity is created under the account)
- Reach Back Out (Automatically updated when a contact is set to “Reach Back Out”)
- Unqualified (Automatically updated when a contact is set to “Unqualified - Account Unqualified”)

As you can see, all the account statuses are updated automatically using the contact statuses, a few of which can be updated by some sales prospecting tools, such as SalesLoft.

Converting from Leads to Contacts

If you already have a bunch of leads in your Salesforce, it is easy to convert them all to accounts and contacts, and then reassign their corresponding activities, so no data will be lost. The easiest way to do this is to use the company website, but if you do not have this information grabbing the email domain from the email addresses is the second best option.

Uploading Contacts with Account IDs

One of the biggest challenges of switching to an account-based model is getting used to uploading new contacts with Account IDs. Uploading leads is very simple as you do not have to map them to any existing accounts. However, when uploading new contacts in an account-based model, Account IDs are needed to map the contacts to the correct accounts. The easiest way to accomplish this is to maintain an Account ID when you are performing all of your contact research. This will make your uploads much faster. Just don’t forget to remove any contacts that are already in the database to prevent duplicates!

Managing Duplicate Contacts

One of the tricks that we implement to manage and prevent duplicates is to create a custom email field called Email ID and mark it as an external ID field. This allows you to upsert contacts by using the Email ID instead of the Contact ID, which will create any new contacts that do not match that email address and update any existing contacts that match.

Managing Duplicate Accounts

Similarly to the Email ID field that we create on contacts, we create a Website ID (external ID field) for all accounts using the company domain name. This works about 95% of the time as sometimes accounts can have multiple domain names. Thus, we make it a requirement for all accounts to have a website (and Website ID).

Inbound lead Process

When new leads are added to the database upon signup form submission, it is best practice to first check to see if there are any existing accounts for that company. If there is a current account, the lead should be converted to a contact under the corresponding account and the account owner should be notified. Otherwise, the standard inbound lead process should be followed until the lead is qualified, at which point it should be converted into an account and contact.

Account Ownership

Firstly, when using an account-based model, completely ignore contact owners. We recommend to remove that field from your layouts and add a formula field on the contact for the account owner. Additionally, we recommend that sales reps should not own more than 100 accounts at any given time. We’ve found that more than 100 accounts is unmanageable for any one rep to manage efficiently. Typically these 100 accounts are strategic accounts that need the touch of a skilled sales rep. All other accounts should be owned by marketing or the prospecting team and passed off once a meeting has been set.

Hope these recommendations help you manage and succeed building out your account-based sales powerhouse.

P.S. If you have interest in leveraging an external sales prospecting team, please reach out to the team at Pipestry and we’d be happy to help!

Cheers,
Brendan Burnett
CEO & Co-founder, Pipestry