Whether you are inbound sales, outbound sales or customer success, account assignment is one of the most difficult and contentious activities that you will undertake. You are constantly trying to balance a host of variables like account load, quota attainment capacity, industry expertise, personal interest. And your finely balanced assignment ‘breaks’ every time a new customer joins or leaves, or more dramatically, when an employee joins or leaves.
So, what’s the answer? Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution. My colleague and I tried once to create software that would figure out automatically and dynamically which accounts should go where. All we ended up doing was massively breaking things, resulting in above-average churn for a couple of months (and annoying a lot of our CSMs in the process).
Given the complexity, there are at least 3 different approaches you can take:
1) Round-robin based upon account load.
In this system, you look at the account loads or numbers of prospects in everyone’s book of business. And you simply round robin them new customers so everyone has similar numbers of accounts/prospects (adjusting for differing quotas). This can be captured in either number of accounts or the dollar value (if it’s a prospect, you can estimate their projected spend). While simple, there are shortcomings in only using a single variable to assign accounts.
2) Best accounts to the best performers.
Imagine if a prospect from Google inbounds. Under the system above, that prospect would simply go to the next rep in the queue. But what happens if that rep is new or a poor performer. Do you really want that lead in their hands, or would you want it to go to one of your better, more experienced reps? To avoid this, use a model where the best accounts go to the best reps. It’s a pretty obvious system, but can be very difficult to implement.
In this system, you segment your reps into different territories/industries/customer sizes/etc. and assign accounts within each of these segments. This certainly builds expertise within your reps, but it can be challenging if you don’t have enough (or have too many) accounts in a specific segment. Moving reps can be hard, so you might find yourself under-capacity in one segment and over-capacity in another segment.
The short answer is that there is no simple, optimal system. Instead, it is important to choose a system but understand all the pros and cons of the system. Minimize the cons, and then explain to your reps why you have chosen a specific system and what you are doing to try and make it as fair as possible. Honesty and transparency will go a long way.
And if anyone has the perfect system, please let me know :)
We have 20+ years of experiencing in helping companies accelerate their sales funnel. If you’d like to learn how we can help your company grow from <$10M to $50M+ please contact us at email@example.com.
Azim Nagree is an ex-Bain consultant with 20+ years in leading strategy, growth and operations transformations.