Today, development teams use agile development techniques so they can develop products, get them out into the user world and iterate based on feedback. Likewise, account teams need to be able to develop effective strategic account plans, implement them and adjust as the situation in the account unfolds; adjusting in real time to changes in their accounts. It is a brave new world out there! Technology has changed the way we sell and interact with customers and prospects. Many sales teams are struggling to achieve their goals. According to Miller Heiman Group’s “Future 4” Webinar, Nov 2017:
- The percentage of reps making quota is down 10% (from 63% in 2012 to 53% in 2017).
- The percentage of companies achieving their revenue plan is down 4% (from 89% in 2012 to 85% in 2017).
- There are more people involved in the buying process.
- More buyers have formal processes that sellers must adhere to.
- It is harder to reach people.
- More buyers are requiring financial justification of purchases.
- Missing opportunities in key account; a formal process will bring them to light.
- Not having a common plan and account data across the team, thus not leveraging cross-functional knowledge of the account to respond to changes in the sales situation, resolve issues quickly and maintain customer satisfaction.
- Not leveraging relationships with key decision influencers in the account, which a common plan across the team would enable.
- Poor resource management across important accounts and opportunities. There is a need for a better process to manage utilization of resources across the team.
If you want to get a great start in the new year, focus on how you can deliver unique value to your customers. There is a lot of talk about “adding value” for customers. Why is this so important and how can you do it?
Adding value enables you to set yourself apart when customers have a hard time distinguishing between alternatives. It can be the key to winning your first business deal with a new account or building a stronger relationship with an existing account.
Creating and implementing strong territory and account plans is an important part in this endeavor. Effective account management increases return from strategic accounts by 145%, according to Actify’s Account Planning Book of Evidence.
Here is how you can add value:
1. Be an indispensable resource.
In each communication, share creative resources and/or unique insight to help solve their issues. Provide links to white papers, expert opinions, case studies, user guides, set up guides and consulting services.
2. Be proactive.
Poor account management may be costing more than you realize. Some of the critical effects may go unnoticed until it is too late, costing you in many ways, including:
- Missing important opportunities in strategic accounts or, even worse
- Losing important accounts.
- When customers leave, 68% of them do so because they felt poorly treated.
- You’ll spend up to 5 times more to win a new customer than it will cost to retain an existing one.
By Ron Snyder of Plan2Win Software and Jim Naro of The Naro Group According to Gartner Group, “65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers and it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.” This indicates the importance of not only doing a good job of managing opportunities during customer acquisition, but also following up with purposeful customer engagement to grow relationships and drive revenue growth on an ongoing basis. When do you actually cross the finish line? Is it when you win the first deal? The gap between opportunity management and account planning is not new and it’s typically driven by several misconceptions, such as:
- Opportunity management is a “won and done” achievement
- Account planning is just a once-a-year effort
- Account planning and opportunity management are independent efforts that require mutually exclusive skills, processes and vernacular
- Building your relationships and sphere of influence is part of account planning only; it’s not part of opportunity management
- It’s OK to implement these processes in silos within the organization
We have identified how to use relationships to implement 7 key account strategies that will maximize your results.
- Defend and Grow
- Land and Expand
- Direct Attack
- Change the Game
- Maintain and Support
- Develop Over Time
John Reighard, who has been a very successful sales leader, says that territory and account management is central to success. He has earned $90,000 per month and has led sales teams to greatly out-perform expectations and their peers. See the short video. https://youtu.be/43TcozQlYaY
The point is to take a quick action- a desired behavior- at an appropriate time- a cue- to move you toward an important goal. For example, if you want to do more exercise to get in better shape, decide to do 10 push ups every time you leave your house or watch TV. Over a short period of time, you will have done more exercise and it will have been easy to do. See Tiny Habits.
The same idea applies to account and territory management. Select desired behaviors and a cue in the sales world to have your team members do that behavior. It must be something they can do quickly. Here are some examples.