There are a lot of CRM and relationship management tools out there that purport to be for account managers, and they generally fall into one of two broad categories:
- Sales Automation tools (usually labeled as CRM) that focus on the sales role across a broad array of industries and types of companies.
- Customer Success platforms that focus on large SaaS software companies with many users that generate tons of data.
If the definition of account management at your company includes a lot of prospecting and qualifying new business, then a popular CRM may be your best bet, and there are plenty to choose from. If you’re focused on customer success for a very large SaaS product, you may benefit from the data-centered approach of a specialized customer success platform.
However, if you’re in the majority of account managers who are tasked with growing existing customer accounts, neither of those two options are likely to be a good fit.
Hunting vs. Farming
Often times, account managers end up using whatever CRM the sales team chooses, and then try to fit their account management process into the sales workflow. The process of hunting for new customers is very different from the process of farming existing customer relationships for maximum value.
Sales automation is often a numbers game - maximizing the velocity of calls, presentations, and proposals delivered along each stage of the sales funnel. In contrast, account management needs to include more strategic activities like account planning and quarterly business reviews, which aren’t included in typical sales-focused CRM tools. Furthermore, a lot of relationship building happens through frequent communications.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative
Data is fantastic for working at scale. If you’re working for a SaaS company with so many customers that you can’t interact with them personally, then the data you collect from your product can provide you with much of the information you need to enable customer success.
For most of us working in the B2B world, we can (and should) prioritize human interactions. Emails, calls, and face-to-face conversations are usually the most important customer activities for account managers, as well as customer success and relationship sales reps. We may be awash in data, dashboards, and digits, but the core of any business is the people involved on both sides of a relationship.
Find a tool that is made for account managers
Look for your software tool to support strategic account management activities. A tool that is made for account managers should help to streamline things like account planning and business reviews. It should also have integrated communications tracking for email, support tickets, and more. Be wary of tools that require users to check a box or bcc an address each time they send an email - many messages will never find their way into those tools.
Find a tool that is easily customizable to your company
Most of the big CRMs can be customized to fit your business, but will likely require an outside consultant, many months, and tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars to get what you need. There is an entire industry of Salesforce consultants that are happy to take your money. A tool that is easy to implement and customize by regular business users will save you a ton of time and money, and start delivering value to you quickly.
There aren’t a lot of options out there that fit the above criteria. That's exactly why we are focused on building the best account management tools at Synap. If you're looking for ways to grow your existing account revenue, retain customers, and collaborate better, we hope you'll give Synap a look.