Account Families

The fullcast.io Motion app contains a hierarchy builder that can be used to build out and maintain account families and the corporate hierarchy. To do this the Account Hierarchy component uses a combination of third party data sources (e.g. D&B), your policies around account families and custom setups. Let's look at the following topics in relation to Account Families:

Introduction

Maintaining the relationship between the various business entities within your customer’s corporate structure is useful in a number of sales scenarios. There are a number of use cases where this would be helpful to maintain this information within your CRM system:

  1. Understanding the decision-making structure for what and how you sell into a company. For example – are decisions for your product made at a branch level or are they made at the HQ.

  2. Understanding the cross-sell and up-sell opportunities that exist within a large corporation. For example, if you have already sold into a department or division of the company, it may be now easier to sell into other divisions, departments, subsidiaries, etc.

  3. When selling to multi-national enterprises, it is important to understand the legal and corporate hierarchy of the company for taxation, legal and other regulatory reasons, to name a few.

  4. Tracking Mergers and Acquisitions that may impact existing sales processes or open up new opportunities as companies come together or split apart.

  5. For an Account Based Marketing (ABM) & Selling strategy, having a view of the entire corporate relationship hierarchy of your customer can expose a wider surface area for you to start nurturing your customer.

  6. Your customers will want to negotiate corporate pricing and discounting and this may apply to the entire corporate structure of the customer. You need to understand all of the entities that may be covered by an arrangement like this.

The above are some of the examples of how account hierarchies are useful in the selling process. It is by no means an exhaustive list. As you can see in the above scenarios, the relationship between the company’s various entities is crucial to maintaining a 360-degree view of the customer.

Within a CRM system, it is therefore very important to be able to report on and understand the various activities that you have with your customers. For example, to be able to report on all the activities, opportunities, lead responses, campaigns, cases, subscriptions, contracts, etc. In Salesforce.com, you can maintain the account hierarchies using the standard account hierarchy fields on the account object. However – there are a lot of things that Salesforce does not do to effectively utilize this capability in the selling process.

Challenges

Maintaining Account Hierarchies requires a combination of policies, automation and manual exception handling as required due to the variety of reasons. It's not an easy challenge that has a silver bullet solution , contrary to popular propaganda. Let's look at some of the challenges:

  • Multi-Nationals – where sales reps from different countries or regions may sell into the same hierarchy. It’s important to first arm the sales team with a view of the whole hierarchy so that they can sell effectively but also handle scenarios where selling into a branch or headquarters may have an impact on another rep's ability to sell into the hierarchy.

  • Mergers and Acquisitions – When relationships between companies changes – such as what occurs during mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, etc – it is important to understand the process that will be followed when different sales reps are responsible for the entities.
    Companies announce the intention to merge and the process of coming together may take years. However – there may be an immediate change in the buying behavior and the decision making. This may require you to reflect changes in the account hierarchy even before the 3rd party data sources are updated.

  • Discovered Subsidiaries – No data source is perfect. You should never expect that data sources are always accurate and immediately reflect the changes in the account hierarchies. Therefore, it is very possible that there is a delay between the time an event occurs in reality and the time it takes for that event to be recorded in the CRM system. Refresh Cycles and how quickly 3rd party data sources that you are using will update to reflect the change are all factors for this delay. A policy must be established to determine how the sales team will be impacted when this happens and how to handle it.

  • Inconsistent Matching during automated enrichment – When accounts are created within the CRM is inaccurate or incomplete data – it is very possible that the way data is enriched can be flaky. Enrichment relies on existing data in the newly created record to match it against a larger 3rd party data source to even identify if this new account needs to be associated with another entity or another existing account hierarchy.

  • Complex Coverage models - It is very possible to have multiple individuals and multiple selling efforts to be kicked off and may need to be reconciled to successfully sell. This impacts the sales reps and the members of the selling team and their earnings. Therefore, careful consideration must be made and a fair policy be put in place to handle these scenarios.

  • Large Conglomerates can have a very deep and complex hierarchy with Holding companies that don’t make purchasing decisions for the constituent companies. In these cases, it does not make sense to have the holding company at the top of the hierarchy but instead break up the child corporations into their own independent hierarchies. Take for example a company like Berkshire-Hathaway which owns multiple multinational companies. However, it may not make sense to roll up Wells Fargo and Yumm Foods under the same hierarchy. This is the situation for most companies held by private equities and other ownership structures similar to this.

  • Franchises, Agencies and other such models – where ownership may be distributed and the purchasing decisions for various aspects could either be centralized or distributed. For instance – each KFC location may make purchasing decisions for HVAC systems but software decisions may be done by the Franchisor. It’s important to understand how to structure these company hierarchies. For example – Coca-Cola and bottling companies which are independent businesses. In these cases you must decide what the hierarchy would look like and it is very possible that the legal ownership structure may not be how your product/services is purchased.

  • Government Agencies – tend not to be separate entities but departments. These are typically not reflected in 3rd party data buys. Cities and Counties tend to show up as entities with unique identifiers but various sub departments don’t. However – purchasing decisions tend to be driven at the department levels. The legal hierarchy is also how purchasing is made with typically a purchasing department that is responsible for RFPs and public notices. Therefore, government agencies may need to be customized based on who and how you sell your product. See section below on departments.

With the various situations outlined above, automation alone cannot solve the problem. It's important to clearly document the treatment of these scenarios based on your specific sales motion and what the most effective way to sell and service the customer. The important thing to realize is that the account hierarchy and family relationships and their respective coverage models are not necessarily what their legal structure may dictate but how you want to sell.

The good news is that this is exactly what the Account Hierarchy function within the fullcast.io Motion app is built to do for you. You can configure the policies in the form of keys and allow the automation to keep the data aligned to your policy.