By Edward Golod – Founder & CEO at Revenue Accelerators

In the world of strategic account selling the average tenure of sales leaders is between just 18 to 24 months. So, as a sales leader how do you differentiate yourself? The defining difference between those who succeed and those who get the early exit is their ability to drive more sales opportunities and strategy execution. Sales leaders can meet their revenue goals by using focused strategy execution and driving more sales opportunities. Those sales leaders who can’t hit their ‘number’ are likely to see the door very quickly.

Those sales leaders that can survive are the ones who build relationships with their existing clients and transform them into key strategic accounts. They know it is a crucial component of the sales strategy because selling to existing accounts is much more profitable and predictable than trying to prospect new business. It is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to use existing pipelines.

Getting insights versus getting what every other sales rep uses

Account selling sales are too competitive of a profession to think you can use the same details that the rest of your sales competition obtains from a one-page company write up. You have to differentiate yourself by finding actionable insight into the company. The best knowledge of the account is going to come from the leading decisions makers. So why wouldn’t you follow every article, statement, analysis, interview, etc., done by those key leaders?

Industry analysis, competitive landscape, and ROI have been around as sales tool for decades. But don’t think you are going above and beyond just because you understand those metrics. These leading decision makers have been used industry-wide for years. In account selling, relying on one-sheeters that outline their industry, competitive landscape or just ROI will be borderline insulting to their intelligence.

When you think you have done enough research, keep digging. No one said it would be easy because it shouldn’t be and only the best can do it right or know the best companies that can supply this data in a streamlined process. Essential data includes financial statements, scraped data from a 300 page 10-K, C-level interviews, company press releases, Wall Street consensus, quarterly calls, etc.

Getting initiatives so you can ‘sell strategically’

How can you tell your target company that your product will help them reach their goals if you don’t even know what those goals are? Every company has goals/initiatives that it is working toward whether it be operational, financial, cultural, etc. And it’s not as if these initiatives are hiding. They are in plain sight for the public but it takes a certain understanding for an individual or a system to piece together all of the data analytics into a confined business narrative. I will tell you this, just by doing the top-level research you will never be able to determine the business narrative in the company.

The use of a narrative can help you understand how and why the business succeeds or fails. The actions and views of opinions shape the business culture and can lead to more opportunities for your sale. In the end, account selling sales are about making the relationship and if you can make deeper, more insightful connections these companies will work with you again and also refer you to others.

Knowing your value

Knowing your value goes hand-in-hand with finding the initiatives. The leading decision makers in B2B companies want to know how your product will either make or save them money, getting them closer to achieving their goals. Keep in mind, too, that value and price are two completely different aspects of the sale.

If you want to show value, think about the outcome and how your customers benefit from what you offer. Shift your thinking. These companies don’t want to buy your offer. They invest in products.

The only way you will understand your value-added narrative is if you completely understand your target company’s business model, important financial metrics and what their constraints are.

Aligning your value

Strategic account selling is all about developing relationships throughout the target company. You will begin to meet people and get insight from those who have influential ideas for the company. They can share what they like about working with you and your company. Each encounter has a value associated with it and can provide significant items that separate you from the competition.

A great technique for aligning your value is benchmarking their purchases with similar vendors to you—it is relatively easy to find if you know where to look in a 10-K. You can keep these records and monitor the trends of the company. This shows you’re concerned about their business but also leads to more opportunities for a conversation with the customer that likely wouldn’t have initiated on its own. If you can show the customer that they have spent less or got better returns on their investment, then you have just added true value for the company.

Present a point of view that ‘sticks’ with prospects

Not surprisingly, when you are proactive in doing the due diligence and finding the important metrics to talk about with the company, you will often come across new opportunities to help the customer. Show the company best practices you’ve uncovered by doing deep dives into similar company’s annual reports. Educate them every time you make contact and use the information you have to develop new relationships. By knowing the operational efficiency, what drives profit and loss and goals behind the company, you can now connect with every decision maker in all silos of the company. You can have a thoughtful conversation with the CEO, CFO, budgeting department, marketing department, etc.

Strategic account selling: The bottom line

If you use these five objectives, you are likely to produce more opportunities for your sales team and be the go-to vendor in the account. By utilizing these objectives, you become not just another salesperson but more of a strategic partner to the customer.

They can come to you for insights into industry best practices or initiatives to cut costs. The company doesn’t always look in the right direction or know exactly what’s best for them, so it’s your job to help them see the entire picture.

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This post was originally published on the Revenue Accelerators website

 

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