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Pipeline Management Isn’t Just for Account Executives Anymore

5 min read
October 18, 2016

The outbound sales development role is hyper-focused on driving mass customer acquisition, so as a result, SDRs are trained to get as many opportunities as possible into the sales funnel. On the surface, this process works great — there’s no denying the boost from implementing this focus into a sales organization. But what sales leaders quickly learn is that, while a lot of accounts are being touched at any given time, reps aren’t going deep on those accounts in their pipeline management.

Enter the Account Based Sales Development Phenomenon

According to Trish Bertuzzi, “If you’re selling a strategic product and/or your average deal size is over $50K and you’re not implementing ABSD, what the heck are you thinking?” But regardless of your ARPA, adopting an account-based mindset is a key to becoming a modern sales organization.

If you have an account-based model, you may have come across the scenario where you’re generating a list of accounts to go after, until you realize the majority of those accounts have been touched within a designated window, making them off limits. So if you’re using ABSD, and your reps can prospect their own accounts, you may be hearing that they are having trouble finding accounts that both meet the ICP and can be worked.

As you dig in to see what is happening, you’ll see one of two scenarios:

  1. You have a sales engagement platform and your rep executed the whole process, but only worked one contact.
  2. You don’t have a sales engagement platform and your rep completed three attempts on a contact, but with an outdated task for an additional follow up step.

Makes your blood boil a bit, doesn’t it? These are great opportunities that meet your ICP, but both attempts to convert them are being wasted. Mishandling prospects shouldn’t be an option in your sales organization — and doesn’t have to be. The solution? A process called account reviews.

What is an Account Review?

Similar to pipeline management reviews for Account Executives, the account review is dedicated time to discuss accounts being worked by your outbound SDRs. This give you visibility on what is being actively worked, where it is in the process, and what the likelihood is that it will convert.


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The first step here is to establish a rhythm for these account reviews. Either include it as an extended part of your weekly one-on-one, or schedule a separate meeting. When you first implement this, I’d suggest 30 minutes. You’ll have more accounts to review per rep (since you haven’t done this before), but after the first few, this should easily be a 15-minute meeting.

Things to note:

  • How many accounts are they working?
  • Where do things stand with their “A” accounts? If they aren’t getting traction, why not?
  • When was the last activity?
  • Are they working the right person(s) based on job title?
  • Are they executing the process to connect with the prospect?

What do you need for account reviews?

  • Company/opportunity scoring. Since we don’t have dollar values yet, this helps you prioritize account focus. If you need help here, try Everstring scoring.
  • Work out of account views. This allows you to view the whole account, past opportunities and activity, rather than an isolated lead view that provides limited information (besides what’s happened with that specific person).
  • Account Stages. Much like pipeline stages, these help you see at-a-glance accounts that are being worked, completed, pushed, etc.
  • CRM in which you can create account views.

Getting this setup will take a little legwork, but I can tell you from personal experience it’s well worth it. As you continue to conduct account reviews, you’ll condition your team how to think strategically about their accounts, build skills for better pipeline management, and gain confidence that they’re taking the best approach to acquiring the ideal customers.

Technology has enabled sales organizations to transform from relying on the mystery of the sales artist, to creating predictable and repeatable sales pipelines with data and science. A big part of this evolution has been the rise of CRM functionality, and the ability to report on sale’s pipeline management. Managers now have the ease of coaching reps on advancing deals and forecasting revenue numbers.

Pipeline management doesn’t just have to be for account executives anymore.

The rise of Account Based Sales Development is the first wave of modernizing the sales organization. And while an account-based approach isn’t always one-size-fits-all, there are always benefits to taking an account-based mindset. If you already do, chances are you’re already strategizing on penetrating key accounts.

Want more insights on how to know if an Account Based Sales Development approach is right for your organization? Download our free eBook on The What And Why Of Account-Based Sales Development and explore the methods behind the new sales development trend.