What is an account?

March 27th, 2011 by

I am working on a project for a non-profit organization with a head office in Calgary that has a mandate to change the perception of mental illness in Canada. It is a 10 year project and they have made the decision in the first phase to target education and health institutes with an awareness campaign. POIM was hired to implement a CRM, specifically SalesForce.com, with the goal to have a central repository of account and contact information so the different business units can collaborate on their approach and leverage the services offered by their communications department.

Completing the iterative build process included the data build that starts with building a master account record; listed below is the definition from SalesForce of an account record:

“Accounts are your organization’s customers, competitors, and partners. Each account stores information such as name, address, and phone numbers.”

After reviewing the SalesForce definition of an account, my question is what is the definition of a “customer”? I go to the internet to find a definition of a customer and listed below is the results from Wikipedia:

“A customer (also known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is usually used to refer to a current or potential buyer or user of the products of an individual or organization, called the supplier, seller, or vendor. This is typically through purchasing or renting goods or services. However, in certain contexts, the term customer also includes by extension any entity that uses or experiences the services of another. A customer may also be a viewer of the product or service that is being sold despite deciding not to buy them. The general distinction between a customer and a client is that a customer purchases products, whereas a client purchases services.”

When building the account records within salesforce it is easy to identify the “current buyer” account records, we use records from the accounting system as the primary source of data. The more difficult part of building account records is identifying the “potential buyer” account records that need to be loaded into the CRM.

POIM uses a process that it is based on knowing specific details about your existing market and then applying this information to determine your “potential buyer”.

• Clean and dedupe the existing “current buyer” account records; in the case of the non-profit organization these are companies they have established partnerships with.
• Append key information against the “current buyer” account record, this includes industry, line of business, Government industry codes (SIC, NAIC), employees, revenue… The data can be added manually through account research or can be bought from companies like Hoovers and InsideView.
• Analyze your list of “current buyer” account records with the appended information looking for common denominators in the data (this can be done within Excel using pivot tables). The goal is to come up with 4 or 5 data points that show-up most frequently and be used to help define your customer database.
• Purchase a list of accounts from a reliable source like Hoovers and filtered using the key data points from the “current buyer” analysis.
• Append the current and potential buyer info with “account type” information to help build the views within salesforce and load that data into the accounts section.

If you follow these steps you will have built account records within your CRM that will allow you to establish a market model approach to managing your target market.


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