When managing B2B and Enterprise accounts, email is the most prevalent form of engagement. In fact, a number of business email is increasing 7% year-over-year as more and more tools automate sending emails (who says email is dying?). However, when we make business decisions everyday about our multi-million-dollar strategic accounts, we're not leveraging this engagement data even though we're sitting on mountains of it - 116.4 billion new emails per day, to be exact. The customer could have been dropping negative hints throughout its lifecycle, and usually, when we notice, it's already too late. Organizations rely heavily on personal assessment by the sales rep and account managers, and we ignore the facts – the hard data – that is sitting in our inbox.One of my personal experiences as a consultant highlights the importance of proactive account management. Even if customers love the product, they will still churn because they dislike the service. But how do we objectively measure account engagement quality? How do we know if a customer is about to churn based on daily interactions? Most importantly, are we even getting the full picture of our accounts in the first place? In this post, we'll explore best practices that we use internally to measure our B2B account engagement.
Managing an enterprise account is like managing a large, long-running project. There are deadlines, tasks, owners, milestones, and most importantly, a lot of communications between the teams. The most important questions to ask right now about your accounts is "where is it at?" and "who has the ball?"; if the answers are unclear, there is some work to do.The next couple of question to ask are more strategic and require historical data to benchmark with other accounts - "how many touches does it take to close a deal?", "how many people and how much time is involved in expanding an account?", or "which teams and who were involved the most?". These questions are great for strategic planning and process improvement in order to become more productive and effective at account-based management and selling.Above screenshot is a chart we use to measure how every team from the whole organization is interacting with our large accounts. If any of the engagement is significantly skewed towards a certain team (compared with other similar accounts), it's a potential signal of risk. In addition, knowing who, when, and what the last touch was, tells a lot about the status of an account (not shown in the screenshot).
While managing customers, all kinds of events can be a root cause of risk: dislike service, dislike product, a spike in support tickets, a spike in emails, customer not responding, sponsors leaving, and the list goes on. While there are a number of Customer Success tools out there that help measure quantitative metrics like support tickets and renewal dates, we measure engagement and quality of the engagement throughout the organization. A risk in our system is essentially any of the metrics above mentioned in the text of an email. The risks tells us what we need to take care of right now, as well as a benchmark analysis of how particular accounts compare to others.Screenshot above shows the risk score trending over time and the volume of negative sentiment that surfaced throughout the same period of time. It gives a quick overview of what happened before with the account, the root cause of a fire drill, and how to prevent it from happening again.
A key activity is a milestone or customer interaction tagged as important. Typically, it is something more granular than the CRM "Stage". One of our customers use it as a metric to track number of "key activities" to determine account health or risk of slipping deals. Internally at ContextSmith, we use key activities to separate signals from the day-to-day noise, such as customer status and updates. For example, how many "key activities" does it take to close an account, complete onboarding, or renew? A screenshot below shows how key activities are tracked.Key activity is also what helps our machine learning technology get smarter. It works exactly like your priority inbox when you tag and email as important in Gmail, separating from rest of the less time-pressing emails. What's great about this feature is that not only email, but any activity within Salesforce can be tagged, further improving productivity of the account managers.