Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a core information management platform for both B2B and B2C businesses. Unfortunately, many options serve a general purpose, which means some companies find basic CRM software to be too generic for their needs. Thankfully, there's no shortage of purpose-built applications to take its place or just fill the gaps.
Account management software is one such purpose-built type of CRM software. It's designed from the ground up to be the best possible CRM solution for managing sales accounts, from the simple to complex. It's best and most often used in B2B contexts and can be a must-have application for companies engaged in cyclical and enterprise sales.
Since CRM plays such an important role in your organization, it's essential to find an account management software that supports both your sales team's workflows and your company's strategic goals.
Poorly aligned account management software can hinder operations just as much as well-matched software improves them. This account management software Buyer's Guide will help you make the right choice.
Here's what we'll cover:
Account management software excels when individual accounts become complicated. For example, you might choose to create separate accounts for:
Keeping tabs on these numerous definitions of “an account" is one of the main functions of account management software. It ensures your sales staff stays on the same page with regards to each account's status and expectations. Your team can interact more efficiently, preventing crosstalk and avoiding missed opportunities.
Account opportunity dashboard in bpm'online showing overview of an individual account's status
From a management perspective, account management software helps monitor progress. It can be used to set individual account milestones, helping verify that tasks are completed and completed on time. It can also be used to set triggers, flagging accounts when deadlines are missed or when special attention may be needed.
Lastly, it helps improve the customer experience. It does this by a combination of the above improvements and also by improving communication. Account management software can be configured to automatically:
The following table lists features common to account management software platforms, but understand that many overlap with features common to general CRM software and sales enablement tools. You should begin your search with a list of existing business challenges and goals and identifying the gaps in your current software toolset.
|Account management||Allows for more granular groupings of separate sales accounts, each with its own customer information files and settings.|
|Parent, nested accounts||Provides more control for the separation and management of individual accounts, breaking them down by individual, team, department, branch office, account status or other variable.|
|Milestones and goals||Helps predetermine points of progress for sales processes and sales cycles, ensuring nothing is overlooked and providing oversight to team leads and management.|
|Platform and app integrations||Allows account management software to work in tandem with other platforms, like CRM and sales enablement tools. App integration requirements should always be considered and demonstrated prior to purchase.|
|Account scoring||Provides a single numerical value to gauge the health of an account, calculated from a selection of variables, including current deals, purchase history, expected lifetime value and open invoices.|
|Life cycle management||Setup and manage step-by-step procedures for individual account management, leading each from sales prospect to active lead to new customer onboarding and post sales follow-up.|
|Renewal cycle management||Helps manage (often larger) enterprise accounts and accounts that have cyclical sales and renewal processes. These tools are increasingly used for subscription-based products, like cloud-deployed software (SaaS).|
|Customer portal||Adds an online portal to your company's website, letting customers securely log in and check their account status, including pending and past purchases, add-on products and support materials.|
|Intelligent call routing||Connects with your business phone system and helps automatically route calls to the correct sales staff (or department) depending on their status as a sales prospect or customer.|
|Insights and analytics||Helps management and executives oversee operations by identifying trends, common pain points and areas for improvement. They're often presented in dashboard form, with options for tracking a variety of metrics and KPIs.|
The overarching trend in account management software, and with CRM in general, is improved user experience (UX) and improved customer experience (CX). The two are closely intertwined and are best understood in relation to one another.
Improved UX: Essentially, this means the software makes it easier for sales staff to do their jobs. Improving the employee's UX is largely a matter of streamlining workflows by reducing the number of manual tasks needed to accomplish any given task.
Make sure that a new sales tool won't actually increase the number of steps for a given workflow. This pitfall is commonly encountered when a standalone application is added on top of an existing sales platform, forcing staff to check the same boxes twice. IT purchases should be considered strategically and holistically; piecemeal solutions should only be considered as a last resort.
Improved CX: In a sales context, a better customer experience equates to simpler interactions and interactions that have already anticipated (and prepared for) the customer's expectations and needs. Account management tools have many applications that help improve CX, including customer portals and intelligent call routing.
But the best way to improve CX is to start by improving UX. When staff has the right selection of tools and intelligently designed workflows, they're more able to focus their attention on customer needs.
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