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How do you handle the handoff between AEs and and account management

We're having internal debate so wanted to understand how others handle or have handled the handoff between Account Executives (AEs) and account managers. In particular, when do you do it - after the client signs or before. If after, how do you make sure the AEs understand or are incentivized correctly as most I know are just ready to chase the next deal.

12 Replies

Greg Russak
2
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Greg Russak Entrepreneur
Advisor at Suitable.co
I may not be reading your question correctly, but in organizations where I've been, SDRs were tasked with turning suspects into prospects - first-level qualifying and scheduling deeper dive with an AE - and AEs were tasked with turning prospects into customers - doing the individual needs discovery and analysis, matching needs to proposed solutions, doing the whole BANT thing, and ultimately closing the sale.

Hope this helps.
Lucas Jaz
0
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Lucas Jaz Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Westeros
Sorry I wrote that in haste - I meant AEs to account managers, not SDRs (although that's a different question) and I've changed it in the title.
Markus Siebeneick
2
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Markus Siebeneick Entrepreneur
Helping Dev & QA Teams Achieve CI/CD Through Test Automation at Sauce Labs
Are the account managers tasked with retention, growth or adoption? Depending on your size, the sales guy should probably own both sales and account management until you are at probably 5M ARR at a minimum.

If you, do have two roles, you need to keep the following in mind in determining how the role will work.

1) Does the AE get any credit if the AM upgrades an account?
If no, there is risk that the AE will deep discount to get a bigger deal upfront, which reduces potential upsell revenue or overall deal value from growing over time.
2) Does the AE have any exposure if the customer churns or downgrades when it is in the AM's hands? If they have no exposure or it is minimal, the AE will write bad deals to get paid and leave it for the AM to deal with.

My opinion is that there is a hand off from AE to AM. AE can get 50-75% credit for any up sells in the first 90 days by the AM, but also takes on 100% risk of any churn during the first 120 days. If the customer is at risk for churn at the 120 day mark (due to a bad deal or customer never implementing), the AE should still have a % of risk equal to remainder of contract and 1 years future renewal possibility.

Greg Russak
1
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Greg Russak Entrepreneur
Advisor at Suitable.co
In my experience, the transition from account executive to account manager happens after the sale.

Even in team selling, the sales person almost always will have primary ownership at least to the point that the prospect actually becomes a customer.

If you're big enough to have different people doing sales and account management as two separate functions, then I suggest that it may be in everyone's best interest to free up your AE to "chase the next deal" as quickly as possible.

A best practice I've used and would recommend for the handoff is for the AE to be responsible for scheduling a post-signature kickoff call or meeting. This is the AE's opportunity to formally introduce the new account "leader" (presumably the AM in your case) and anyone else who will be personally supporting the customer. It smooths the transition from AE to AM by ensuring that the customer doesn't feel like the AE just tossed them over the wall to someone else. It also tremendously helps to reduce customer and colleague confusion about who is guiding and nurturing the relationship now.
Bonnie Crater
3
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Bonnie Crater Entrepreneur
President and CEO at Full Circle Insights
We try to have account manager participate in the later communications with the prospect so the transition is smooth between the two teams. All notes about the account are recorded in Salesforce. The AE schedules the kickoff call for the AM. The AE makes the handoff on the customer kickoff call to the AM. Our AEs are responsible for new business our AMs are responsible for retention. (in our case our AMs are the customer success team) Hope this is helpful.
Paul Kesserwani
2
0
Paul Kesserwani Advisor
Consulting and advising startups
I agree with a combination of the answers above.

There are a lot of factors that impact when you should hire Account Managers, their role, and what the transition process from AE to AM should look like.

That said, my preference is introducing the Account Manager to the prospective client later in the sales cycle, but not necessarily waiting until the deal is closed. (Per Bonnie's comment)

The transition from AE to AM is very delicate. Each deal typically takes months to close, and in that time, the prospect gets more and more comfortable with their AE. The idea of exchanging that trusted comfortable relationship with a brand new one is stressful. Including an AM in the later stages of the deal eases the prospect (soon to be client) into the transition.

James V. Linden
3
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James V. Linden Entrepreneur
VP Business Solutions at Kochava
Definitely one of my favorite topics to discuss within organizations. Generally speaking I've often found the most success including the AM/client services team at the 90% stage of a deal closing. It's critical for your new client to understand who they'll be working with and the types of service level they should expect. Moreover the AM/client services team can keep the sales team honest by making sure they are not promising deliverables that cannot be achieved. A streamlined process should be implemented and used in a "rinse and repeat" manor so all sales executives and AM/customer service reps are well aware of the structure.

Most sales executives I usually suggest ride off into the sunset after 6 months post closed deal. If you've built a solid AM/customer service support team they should (A) be able to handle the account and (B) look for upsell opportunities. Keep your sales executives hungry looking for the next whale vs. worrying about delivery on biz they've landed.
Edward M. Yang
0
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
As it relates to the latter question, here's an article that might spur some thought:https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/04/the-case-for-a-sales-assist-metric.html
Steven Lee
0
0
Steven Lee Entrepreneur
ERM at Avecto
There is a bit of a practice around this, I suggest getting the ops team involved early on as you develop the operational plan or SoW, once the agreement is finalized. They'll own the delivery it's important they have skin in the game on the success criteria.
I would also keep the AE involved the relationship, a successful delivery is often the beginning of a new opportunity, case-study or simply a referable customer.
RAMANI RANJAN PATNAIK
0
0
RAMANI RANJAN PATNAIK Entrepreneur
Business at Maa mangala costruction and R S A Enterprises
I m now entering to real estate projects i know how its work and all official and technical problems but need a investor..
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