Category Archives: Sales Account Management
Communicating the value created is the key part of collaborative account development. Many salespeople believe that if they win opportunities in the sales process and their account teams implement the solution for the customer flawlessly, the customer will automatically recognize that value has been created. This is a mistake. Value not communicated is value not perceived by the customer.
Four Factors Make Up a Value Strategy
Identify the business environment and business needs: There are trends in the customers’ industry affecting their business. In addition, the customer has company goals, objectives, and challenging issues. Out of these trends and challenging issues arise opportunities to work together to improve the customer’s performance. This includes identifying, and formulating, how the customer defines value.
Generate new ideas: One of the key behaviors of trusted advisors is that they bring new insights and ideas to their customers. These insights and ideas seek to change the status quo to help the customer keep up in a fast-paced and challenging business environment.
Communicate the value to the customer: How can your company deliver value to the customer? Be sure the customer also is told, and understands, how your salespeople can deliver value to the their stakeholder, including the customer’s customers.
Deliver: After your salespeople have worked hard to identify and generate new opportunities, your account team needs to deliver the solutions that deliver value to the customer. This part of the » Continue Reading.
Opportunities to grow your business with a major account come in three different modes: Respond, Shape, and Create.
When salespeople respond to an opportunity, the customer has already identified the issue, the solution, and the expected outcomes. Now, a provider is sought. This is the most reactive style of account development. The scope and budget are usually already set. Pressures on both price and competition are often high. By no means should a salesperson ignore such opportunities. Flexibility is a key element of business. Salespeople should be able to respond as well as initiate. However, responding is not the best way to develop and grow a business relationship.
High-performing sales professionals tend to focus more on shaping opportunities. This is where salespeople help the customer in defining the issue, the most likely outcomes, and even possible unintended consequences. This is a much more proactive style of account management— one where salespeople may be able to preempt the competition. And even though some opportunities might initially appear to be “respond” situations, if you have a different opinion or broader view, you might be able to shape a respond opportunity in new ways.
The third selling mode is the most ambitious and creative. Here, salespeople create an opportunity. They bring forward insights to challenging issues that are not even on the customer’s radar but will likely have an impact sometime soon. This is the most proactive style of account » Continue Reading.
It’s common for sales leaders (and salespeople themselves) to look to their large, strategic customers year after year to sustain or drive increased revenue performance. However, the availability of options, decreasing customer loyalty, higher expectations and constant competitive threats are making forecasted business from your best customers anything but a certainty. All too often, account growth strategy and plans are isolated events and are missing one critical component – the buyer.
An enterprise-wide, customer-centric approach to working with strategic accounts is a mainstay of sales organizations that understand that markets change but that customers are always relevant. Because the business environment in which your customers operate has become more challenging, salespeople need to increase their proficiency in identifying and meeting needs to have credibility as a trusted advisor, one who helps the customer decide how to buy and doesn’t just sell.
4 FACTORS AFFECTING ACCOUNT GROWTH STRATEGY (1) Renewed Emphasis on Price
Price has always been important in business. In today’s environment, funding is scrutinized. Customers feel like they should look longer and harder to justify why they are buying a particular solution at a specific price. As pricing pressures increase, more and more firms find customers trying to “commoditize” the solutions that suppliers offer.
(2) Greater Complexity
The business environment has become increasingly complex. An IBM study of more than 1,500 CEOs cited increasing complexity as a major challenge to the managerial and leadership ranks » Continue Reading.
If you win accounts only to lose them at contract renewal, you are not managing your accounts well, if at all. There are three components of an effective account management strategy:
The creation of a plan The tools to support the plan Execution
Let’s say you have written account management plans for accounts that warrant them and you have the tools to make those plans happen. What’s left? As Nike would say, “Just do it.”
But going out and doing it is where many sales professionals fall short. They’re too busy doing other important things: chasing after new business, prospecting, doing internal reports, or going to meetings.
Executing and Account Management Strategy
I tell sales professionals, “You are the CEO of your own territory.” It is your responsibility to hold your own feet to the fire to make sure you’re doing the right things to maintain and grow your accounts.
It’s more than relationship building; although, that’s a large piece of it. Stepping back, you have to diligently work your plan month by month and year by year. You also have to look at the competition as part of your overall plan. You want to find out how often competitors visit » Continue Reading.
As the “quiet Beatle” George Harrison sang, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” But if you have a destination, you need to plan your route. The same is true with sales account management. To keep your book of business growing smoothly while you focus on all of your other sales activities, you need to invest the time to plan properly.
I think about account management often because the subject comes up with every group of sales professionals in every training class, no matter what company they’re from. It was a big part of my 20-year sales career, and it should be part of every seller’s world. The reason it doesn’t get a lot of attention is because most companies are focused on driving new revenue and bringing new customers through the door.
Know What Business You’re Losing
What account management does is work to make sure the new customers coming in the front door are not slipping away out the back door. It is both an art and a science, as sales professionals strive to keep their existing accounts and ideally, grow them, while also adding new accounts. What I ask sales professionals is this:
“Do you know what the retention rate is in your territory?”
Too many give me deer-in-the-headlights looks as they confess:
“No, my company doesn’t share that information with me.”
To this, I reply:
“You should always know what » Continue Reading.