What Makes an Effective Account Review

Another Linkedin Live, another blog post! This time around, we invited Don Lazzari, President at Delivering Value LLC, and Anders Gyldenløve Pedersen, VP of Sales at ARPEDIO – two absolute sales gurus – to talk about their shared passion for effective account reviews.

Key takeaways and recommendations

  • Squeeze subjectiveness out of the equation
  • Account reviews should always be in-depth and never a walkover
  • You get what you measure – so stay focused!
  • Adopt regular account reviews in accordance with rhythm of the pipeline and sales cycle
  • Use sales tools to set the stage for effective account review
  • Account reviews should be anchored throughout the executive management team

A brief introduction to our panelists

Don Lazzari is President at the company Delivering Value LLC, and has for the past 12 years helped a number of different companies – big and small – grow by improving their sales performance. This also includes examining how they do account reviews. Before this, Don spent 25 years selling technology all over the world.

Anders Gyldenløve Pedersen is VP of Sales at ARPEDIO. Before joining ARPEDIO, Anders spent 15+ years at Big 4 consultancies, most recently at Deloitte as Partner and Sales Director,  working with complex selling and strategic account management.

What makes an effective account review?

According to Don, four criteria must be met in order to be successful with your account reviews. At Delivering Value LLC, these four criteria serve as the winning framework for effective account reviews, and has already been shared with dozens of their customers for the past decade – “with positive effect”, Don adds.

Effective account reviews must be:

  • Detailed: First of all, any account review should be a deep dive; something you put an effort into, and not just something to get over with.
  • Objective: To ensure objectivity, it should be tied to progress in a defined sales process.
  • Consistent: Consistency is key to keep discipline and helps drive accountability with your team. Therefore, account reviews should be done on a regular basis.
  • Streamlined: Focus should always be on next steps to close deals. You cannot change what has already happened, so all that matters is what’s going to happen next. And this last step is also where you apply sales tools for support.
If you can be detailed, objective, consistent and streamlined and stay disciplined to the underpinnings of that, you’re going to drive success. And that’s not just my personal experience, there’s a lot of published studies out there that say when you adopt regular account reviews and pin them to a sales process and you use tools to facilitate them, you will see a increase in sales across the board.
Don Lazzari
President, Delivering Value LLC

In short, account reviews are important because they are crucial to drive accountability and to keep people focused on the numbers.

Account review best practices

When talking about account review best practices, Anders highlights ‘focus’ as the top priority and his number one piece of advice. Regardless of company size, Anders doesn’t believe that it’s possible to do account reviews on every single account. And to decide which accounts to prioritize can be tough. You’ll need to carefully select both some local and global strategic accounts for review, and that’s why focus is so important, according to Anders.

Secondly, Anders emphasizes that the importance of account reviews needs to be anchored throughout the executive management team. Even though account reviews take place in the sales departments between account managers, key account managers, strategic account managers, and their sales managers, it should be clear to everyone in the organization that this is something the company prioritizes and finds great value in. Otherwise, why put in the effort?

Account Management Software can be a powerful sales tool to help streamline account reviews and reduce subjectivity, especially when integrated directly into your CRM system like Salesforce.

Account review cadence

Importantly, Anders touches upon cadence. Of course, the size of the specific account will play a role in this, but, as a rule of thumb, he prefers to do monthly reviews together with a cross-functional account team.

Don agrees that cadence will of course always be management dependent, i.e. what are the resources and how much time is available for the team that has to do it. Also, the progress made from period to period will play a role, as well as how many deals you have in the pipeline. If possible, Don tries to do these account reviews on a weekly basis. However, he does point out that they should always be practical and productive, and not just a simple walkthrough! In that case it’s better to adjust cadence in accordance with your business: “It has to be to the point. . .you want to do them so they’re timed in such a way that enough progress has happened. And that has to be adjusted based on the rhythm of the pipeline and the rhythm of your sales cycle.

Sales tools set the stage for effective account reviews

When focusing on next steps, sales tools really can do wonders for your business – especially sales tools that can bolt directly into Salesforce, or your chosen CRM. This ensures streamlining and reduces subjectivity:

Are you already using Salesforce?
Yes, and I would love to hear how account management works in Salesforce with ARPEDIO
I don't have to ask you 20 questions. If you can show me a power map and show me the playbook. . . I can suddenly follow along and we can get focused on sharing information about what to do next, instead of some free-form ‘how do you feel’ or ‘what's your gut telling you’. To me, none of that stuff has any place whatsoever in an account review and it definitely doesn't have any place in the forecast.
Don Lazzari
President, Delivering Value LLC

Ultimately, applying sales tools is key to successful account reviews, as they can help you streamline information sharing across your sales teams and departments and stay focused on the important things. 

Account review pitfalls to avoid

By now, we’ve established that account reviews are essential to any company. But, not just any form of account reviews. Effective ones! If not, then there’s really no point in spending any time doing them, as the exercise won’t yield results for your company. Below, Don and Anders will share what to look out for when you do account reviews.

Squeeze subjectivity out of the equation

From Don’s many years of experience in this area, what he often sees is that when account reviews don’t yield results, it’s typically because they are poorly conducted. This includes account reviews that are too free-form and subjective, and based more on gut feeling rather than data. This is a ‘dangerous’ path to go down as it sets you up for failure:

The [poorly conducted account reviews] tend to be a very ‘thumb-in-the-wind'-type of an approach, and that gets you a bad forecast, that sets the wrong expectations, and that can even make you end up with a pipeline that's more fiction than it is fact.
Don Lazzari
President, Delivering Value LLC

So, if you’re the person leading the account reviews, “the number one goal is to squeeze subjectiveness out of the equation”, Don says. Why? Because you need to have an objective view of the progress (made). This is to better understand whether or not you’re going to win a deal, to ultimately hit the number, and to produce a reliable forecast.

You get what you measure

Anders suggests another common pitfall to avoid when doing account reviews. When account reviews don’t add any value, often it’s because the client or the account team don’t know what they are measuring. And in this case “you get what you measure”, Anders says. 

You should always know exactly what you’re trying to measure, and for measurement it’s critical to have the right systems in place. Sales tools can support better measurement and visibility, why it’s not surprising that they are increasing in popularity by the day. Research from McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group show that sales departments on average use a tech stack of 10+ tools, and this number continues to grow. Therefore, Anders’ best advice for effective account reviews is to be very clear on what to focus on when you measure. And an effective way to succeed with this, is to use the right sales tools.

Keep it easy!

Another key element for effective account reviews is keeping it simple. Don emphasizes that the sales process his company introduces – or perhaps enhances (based on what’s already in place) is always very to the point, it is not overly complicated, and it doesn’t have a lot of moving parts. As they say at Delivering Value: “No consultant-speak. No magic bullets. No bullsh*t.” Bottom line, Don says, we want to win deals. The more we win, the more we make. When winning is the driver, account reviews become practical and pragmatic. 

At the end of the day, there's probably 10 to 15 fundamental questions that you can ask about what's happening in the deal, and if you can get precise and objective answers to those, you're going to move the deal forward, and you're going to have a good review.
Don Lazzari
President, Delivering Value LLC

Anders completely agrees that account reviews should be easy for the SAMs to work with. Ideally, he says, it should support their daily work, be intuitive and provide ongoing coaching. From experience, Anders is very aware that sales people don’t want to work in multiple different systems, combined with spreadsheets, presentation slides etc., making their work harder than it needs to be, and not giving much back.

Don agrees that sales people don’t want to do non-productive work that doesn’t take them towards a deal. From years and years working as a sales rep himself, Don speaks from experience: 

“They [sales reps] hate documenting things in the CRM. But, if you’re asking me to do something that’s going to help me win a deal instead of just giving you information, then suddenly I have a different attitude about it.”

It’s important that critical information can be entered quickly and easily, so there isn’t a lot of thought or effort involved, then win-rates go up. Bottom line, the end game should never be to just enter random data in your CRM. It should be easy, quick, and always add value to your sales team to ensure focus on winning deals. And this is where automated playbooks can come into play and make a big difference.

Watch or re-watch our LinkedIn Live on what goes into an successful Account Review below:

Want help to excel with your account reviews? ARPEDIO’s Account Management software enables overview and transparency across key account performance and empowers data-driven decision making. Learn more on our Solution page or book a demo to experience the benefits in action.

Picture of  Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

+45 53 50 78 33
[email protected]

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

Picture of Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

+45 53 50 78 33
[email protected]

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

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