Best practices for account segmentation and scoring


Tony Yeung

Tony Yeung, Principal, ZS - Tony Yeung is a principal at ZS and works with clients to improve sales and marketing strategy and execution across a number of industries, including travel and transportation, industrial products and high-tech. His areas of expertise include go-to-market strategy, sales effectiveness, sales incentives and sales analytics and operations. Tony holds an MBA from INSEAD and a BASc in electrical engineering and physics from Queen's University in Canada.

In a recent webinar with the Sales Management Association, Rowan Tonkin and I shared some best practices for effective account segmentation and scoring, and how to integrate territory and quota planning, and incentive compensation design. When done accurately, these processes can drive sales revenue by helping to more accurately determine sales account planning and market growth potential.

Sales organizations in many B-to-B companies rely primarily on the most readily accessible internal data to determine territories and quotas, and to develop incentive compensation plans. The problem is that data from internal systems (e.g., customer) provide an incomplete view of market opportunities, making it hard to direct salespeople and other resources against the best market opportunities.

Improve how you measure account potential to improve market penetration and drive revenue.

In the webinar poll, 40 percent of respondents said their organizations lack the systems, tools, and analytics to model customer and prospect potential, and almost half (49 percent) indicated that they lack confidence in their data. Additionally, 23 percent said that their organizations measure account-level potential but don’t trust the data, while 31 percent responded that they know the market potential but not customer potential.

At ZS, we recommend that sales leaders leverage a process we call account potentialization. The first steps involve taking an inventory of customer- and prospect-level data to identify the most accurate sources of sales history and market opportunities. Doing so will provide a big-picture view of where to focus, which will then allow sales leaders to rank accounts in terms of where the most attractive acquisition, cross-selling or upselling opportunities exist.

Once organizations have that data and information in hand, start looking into predictive analytics. A platform like Anaplan can enable sales leaders to run “what-if” scenarios for various territories. For example, what would the effects be if resources were allocated from one region to another? You may discover that reps are focusing on the wrong accounts. Or, maybe you have people concentrating on the wrong tasks instead of the right ones, compromising potential leads. Perhaps you’ll find that it’s more impactful to revenue to concentrate on up-sell and cross-sell to existing customers instead of acquiring new accounts.

How does account potentialization impact my selling organization?

The most common bias we see at ZS is salespeople are given territories with different levels of sales potential. This can result in two issues:

  1. Suboptimal territory design, limiting growth;
  2. Inaccurate and/or unfair sales quotas which has a negative effect on motivation.

We recommend leveraging account potential as an input into territory design and management, as well as quota setting, which together can significantly improve sales performance.

With this in mind, we recommend starting small. Integrating the right data sources to inform territory design and quota management processes can help accelerate sales growth.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for part two of this webinar and blogs series on territory management and sales capacity planning.