It’s that time of year again – Salesforce’s new fiscal year and updates to their Account Executive team structure. What this means for you, is that you have a chance of having a new AE assigned to you. I blogged on this topic a while back and thought it was a great time to offer a “refresher” on some key points. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: working with your Salesforce AE can be a win-win. Here are a few tips from my clients and AEs on cultivating a mutually successful relationship.
Who is Your AE (or team?)
You probably know this from prior conversations. But, if you don’t (and that is possible), it’s easy to find out. If you are a Salesforce user, your company has an Account Executive, or an “AE.” Heck, if you’re even just thinking about getting Salesforce, you have one. If you need help enabling Checkout, follow these instructions. First, make sure your user profile has Checkout enabled.
Step 1 – Click the Gear icon in the upper right, and click “Manage Subscription”
Step 2 – Your AE’s contact details are in the lower right hand corner of the Checkout Home Screen
My recommendation is always to know who your AE is and try to set a meeting with them during Q1. Getting together early in their tenure (and still early in the calendar year) gives an opportunity to discuss any strategy for the year so everyone has lots of runway to figure it out. If you haven’t done it yet, this blog provides a detailed document that can help you with planning and AE conversations. If you haven’t talked to your AE in a while, a few topics or questions you can ask on the call:
- Review your goals for the year
- Review current challenges with Salesforce or other applications
- Discussion about your current partner relationship (or lack of a partner)
- Ask them about their goals or how they think they can help
- Ask them if Salesforce has any programs or events that would be good for a customer such as yourself
- Identify next steps and a calendar date for checking in with each other
- Determine if it’s ever possible to meet in person sometime (probably after COVID settles of course)
Salesforce AEs and your account team can bring a lot to the table. They receive training in business process, consulting, and the Salesforce product capability. Salesforce as a product family is now so broad, it’s impossible to “see the forest for the trees” sometimes. Your Salesforce AE can bring that perspective and provide free consulting and deep dives on product features to help evaluate if there are solutions available.
Working with an AE can help craft a shared vision. Think solutions first, and if there is a product fit, do the business math on how a potential Salesforce investment can provide returns. It’s easy to get defensive and think, “They are just trying to sell me more licenses.” Sure, sometimes licenses are involved, but the licenses are often key to a solution. An AE is like a free consultant who works with hundreds of companies and sees patterns all the time. Take advantage of that knowledge.
Your Lead for Challenges
Your Salesforce AE is a direct line to Salesforce support and product teams. If the product is not working correctly or you are having issues with service, let your AE know. They can help with escalations or connections to product specialists to uncover a complicated issue.
Know the Cycles
If you’re seeking a deeper relationship with your AE, understanding their calendar can help. As a generalization, the last week of the month and two weeks of a quarter are probably a busy time for them and not a great time for new conversations. But the beginning of months or quarters are an excellent time to get prime access to resources from Salesforce.
Account Executives Change – Embrace It, Change is Good!
It’s no secret that Salesforce.com is growing substantially every year. With that kind of growth comes massive internal promotion and territory realignment. It’s likely you will be assigned a new Account Executive every year. I’ve often heard negative feedback about this, but I feel that if you’re prepared for it, the transition can be managed (The core document outlined above will help!) and you get the advantage of fresh perspective every year.
One other thing that can help with change is using Salesforce to track your AE relationships. Log your calls and document meeting outcomes just like any other record in the system. When you meet your new AE, a quick 10-15 minute review plus discussion about the year’s goals can save a lot of the typical transition difficulty of “starting from scratch every year.”
Challenge yourself to get ready for your next AE meeting. Write the document, set up your Salesforce to manage AE relationships, and schedule a call. You should know who your AE is and have a good relationship with them. If you don’t? Find out more about them today and start building that relationship.