Account teams are designed to cover key aspects of managing the customer lifecycle - commercials, product adoption and technical expertise - to ensure that customers buy, use and successfully leverage the products to achieve their desired outcomes.
The customer account team typically consists of an Account Executive (AE or sales rep equivalent) and/or an Account Manager (AM), a Sales Engineer (SE), a Customer Success Manager (CSM) or Customer Success Advocate (CSA), sometimes a Technical Account Manager (TAM), Onboarding Specialists, Trainers and Support.
The types of roles on the team may vary depending on the customer account size, with some of the roles dropped for smaller accounts or responsibilities combined into one role.
Customer account size also tends to influence whether roles are dedicated to accounts or pooled to serve a large segment of customers.
Generally, companies tend to create one account coverage model that they use across all customers with adjustments made to account for the revenue size of the customer being serviced.
Why Account Coverage Models Fail
The problem with assigning resources to accounts based on how much a customer is paying you, or worse, by how much the customer’s own revenue is, is that revenue (yours or your customer’s) does not correlate to how the customer will adopt your product.
For that reason, a one-size-fits-all account coverage model across all customers does not make sense, nor is it efficient to do so.
Customers have different needs and will require different types of assistance from the resources they work with depending on their product adoption needs.
For example, the above illustration shows how Awesome Co’s customers are segmented and what each segment requires from Awesome to effectively adopt and leverage their product.
Customers in the top right quadrant need resources with subject matter expertise to help them determine how the product can be used to drive innovation in their own business market, while customers in the bottom left quadrant simply need to understand how to use the product.
Assigning the same type of resources across all customers would require more, highly specialized resources to service customers even when they do not require specialized help.
This would be an efficient use of these highly specialized resources.
The amount of effort required for different customers also means that account ratios would differ for varying customers.
In a one-size-fits-all model, resources could potentially be under- or over-utilized depending on the segment they are servicing.
Again, an inefficient use of resources.
A Better Account Coverage Model
The more efficient approach is to right-size account ratios and assign the right skill sets required for different customer segments.
How does a company develop an account coverage model that delivers what customers need and in the most effective and efficient manner?
The companies that do this best execute these top 5 steps. They:
Segment their customers based on adoption characteristics. That is, they look at the key characteristics that drive adoption for their customers and segment them according to these characteristics.
Outline for each segment, what is of key importance to those customers and what they want help with from the vendor.
Clearly articulate, based on what is of key importance and what customers need help with, what type of roles should be assigned to those accounts and what their primary responsibilities are in order to meet those needs. The required skill sets of each job profile are used to create and conduct a resources skills assessment to determine who the right people are for the various types of accounts.
Identify what the required effort is, per segment, to get a customer through the journey.
Calculate the account ratios for each role per segment. Account ratios can be determined via an activity-based accounting approach using the number of customers to service, the customer journey effort per customer per segment, and the FTE calculations per role.
The result is an Account Coverage Model that is aligned with how your customers adopt your product and services.
Resources with the right skills are assigned to accounts that require those skills and account ratios are determined based on the capacity available per resource to conduct the right effort that is required to drive customer adoption.
With this model in hand, the head of Customer Success can rest assured that resources assigned target the exact needs of the customer and that they have enough time allocated to deliver the services required.
If business changes, then the executive has the visibility into the levers that can be pulled to improve effectiveness or can make tough business decisions based off of quantifiable data.
Net-net, an account coverage model should reflect what it takes for customers to successfully adopt your product and the time it takes to deliver the effort to support that success.