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    In sales and marketing, we often talk about customer segmentation in the context of prospecting. The practice often starts with dividing potential customers into groups according to firmographic criteria such as geography, size, and industry.

    It can help us choose our prospecting approach, put the right team members on the right prospects, and choose the right strategies and process for nurturing the sale.

    How well do you know your key accounts? I believe that the most successful sales teams in the future are going to be those that get serious about doing a deeper dive into segmentation with key accounts, both existing and potential. And I believe that now is the time to do to it.

    What is customer segmentation in the context of account planning?

    Customer segmentation in the context of account planning is the practice of identifying and dividing your key accounts into categories based on key criteria that impact how you interact and grow your relationship with them.

    Segmentation criteria may include previous engagements, future potential, industry changes and triggers, relationship strengths, your value hypothesis, and much more. The purpose of customer segmentation in this context is to ensure that you match the right team, the right process, and the right approach for each account to ensure you contribute the most growth, both for the customer and for your team.

    It's time to get serious about account segmentation, growth planning, and execution.


    It also ensures that you know which accounts to spend more time with, so you maximize the effectiveness of your team.

    With all of the potential data at our fingertips and ever-increasing market pressures, now is the time for sales teams to be thinking about taking account growth planning and execution to the next level by segmenting and prioritizing accounts in a more detailed, structured, and effective manner than has been common practice in the past.

    Why we need to go deeper

    There are four key factors that have come together at this time that I believe should be driving us to perform deeper analysis and customer segmentation and account growth initiatives:

    1. A forced slower pace. Many sales organizations are experiencing a forced slow-down due to the pandemic. This is an ideal time to take a look at your customers and reorient your teams and processes to take advantage of opportunities and make the most of your resources.
    2. We have more data available. More data means we CAN analyze, understand, and segment our customers at a more detailed level than ever before.
    3. Competition continues to strengthen. Your toughest competition is not sitting this out. They’re already working on this, and with a challenging economy, there’s going to be less to go around. You can’t afford not to do this.
    4. We have new tools. More data is only helpful if you also have the tools to parse and analyze the data. New tools are making this easier, faster, and more effective than ever before.

    How to go deeper with account segmentation

    In order to go deeper with segmentation, you also need to go deeper with your data and analysis.

    Begin by spending more time with your good accounts. Ask them probing questions to learn about what is driving them right now.

    Explore new potential criteria to track for segmentation. For instance, what is their level of commitment to certain types of initiatives? Do they consider themselves an innovative or conservative company? What is their attitude toward the initiative that you can help them with? How do they learn - what kinds of content do they eagerly consume? How much of that have we shared with them? Which key stakeholders have we engaged with? Which ones are we not engaging with?

    Look at each new potential criteria to see how it impacts that customer’s behavior and potential. Are there correlations?

    You can do the same thing with the members of your sales team. You may notice that some sales team members do really well with companies that are eager for innovation, while others are more skilled at working with accounts that take a more conservative approach.

    With this analysis in hand, you can design processes to match your newly honed segmentation. For that, you’ll need a tool like Membrain’s future Account Growth module that allows you to flexibly and easily customize processes and include all team members, so that everyone has their next steps, checklists, and enablement materials right inside their workflow.

    This helps to ensure that the work you do in customer segmentation and process development doesn’t go to waste but instead drives enhanced performance and revenue.

    What about you? How do you segment and prioritize your accounts? I’d love to know what new criteria you’re coming up with to do a better job of this.

    Let me know in the comments, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

    George Brontén
    Published July 1, 2020
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

    Find out more about George Brontén on Twitter or LinkedIn