When new business is won your account management team are on the case ready to grow the account. Initially you might have great expectations of upselling and cross selling, but all too often these hopes fade as delivery and service demands consume your account team’s time and attention.
Building relationships and growing accounts often takes an inordinate amount of time and resources, but is it delivering a return? A recent Gartner survey recognised that ‘only 28% of sales leaders believe that account management channels regularly meet cross selling and account growth targets’. I believe that there are a number of things that you can do to improve account growth.
Adopting the right approach
All too often I have seen major accounts passed on to a single account manager, who with the best will in the world, is unlikely to have the time to drive significant growth. The focus initially is on those sponsoring the initial project, but they soon get caught up in day-to-day delivery and service. Account managers, by their very nature, are relationship builders focused on developing long-term relationships and as the relationship deepens it is difficult, without permission, for your team to engage with others in the account.
Yet while your team are busy relationship building, new business development teams from your competitors are targeting key decision makers across the account, hungry for business. Are you regularly finding that your competition is beating you to business in existing accounts? Would you like to expand existing accounts faster? Have you got stuck at a certain level or in a certain business unit in an account and having trouble trying to break out?
The answer is to use a hybrid approach. You can ring fence current projects contacts and business areas to your account team, but open other areas of the business to your new business team working in partnership with your account team and agree a strategy for growth. The new business development team will benefit from existing intelligence, being able to name drop contacts and share success stories to accelerate the engagement with key contacts further afield and potentially higher up in the organisation.
You need to make it personal
The fact that you are already delivering a solution means that you are very definitely ‘on the radar’ and probably on the ‘Preferred Supplier List’ (PSL) too! You are also solving a business issue or problem in delivering your product, service, or solution, so now is a great time to share the news, but you need to make it personal.
Working with your account team take time to tap into ‘inside information’ what are your client’s aims, needs and goals? How is their business structured? What are their values? Who are the movers and shakers? Who else should you be taking to? You get the idea. Brainstorming in this way quickly will help you to not only identify many more contacts, but also start to establish more personalised and meaningful messaging that will resonate with these new contacts and help your new business development team to open more doors.
Success breeds success
People like to hear good news. If you have been working in an account for many years, chances are you have many success stories. You don’t need to have fully fledged case studies, but just share the basics of what issues you have solved, the benefits realised and where possible demonstrating quantifiable results. Being able to tell stories really helps people to fully understand what it is you do, how you add value and how you might be able to help them. It is also much better than reeling off a load of features and functionality.
Delivering far greater returns
Finally targeting existing customers generally means faster sales cycles, less effort and more business. In fact, Bain & Co found that existing customers spend on average 67% more than new customers. Establishing more business in existing accounts is not only more profitable but can also see you being recognised not for a transactional relationship, but more a long-term partnership. At a time when new business is potentially harder to find is it time you turned your attention on some of your larger accounts?
If you would like to accelerate sales in existing accounts, but don’t have the time or resources check out our account acceleration services to see how we can help you.