Three Simple Steps to Account-Based Selling…Not Just for Account Managers
In the world of selling, I am a die-hard hunter. I love the thrill of finding some new, exciting opportunity. I also love hearing about fresh, new issues, learning about others’ businesses and thinking about solutions to problems.
In my desire to hunt, I have fallen victim to the belief that it is more noble to chase down and “kill” a new client than to work with existing ones. I admit it. I am easily distracted – thus I like the fun possibilities of what could be with a new opportunity. If you have similar people on your sales team or you, yourself, operates like me, then pay attention. I am going to share what I learned that will make your life easier.
Caution: Some of these suggestions may be covered by other account manager types in your organization, so recognize that some of these activities are handled already, but hunters will benefit from these principles as well.
Step One: Assemble Lists
Hopefully, you have a CRM that houses client information and opportunities you have both won and lost.
Pull the following information from your system:
- All opportunities you have lost in the last two to three years. You could go back longer if you sell very large items or services or if you have very long sales cycles – or if you just feel like it.
- Every client that you only sold one thing to – this assumes you have more than one thing to sell.
- Your ideal, most perfect and beloved clients.
Step Two: Create Messaging
Different messaging will need to be created for each of these three lists.
For instance, in the case of the opportunities you have lost, you might wonder if they are regretting their decision not to choose you yet. And, you might be able to play on their guilt if they didn’t choose you. Maybe they are ready for a change or they could refer you to someone that might use your services and perhaps this would make them feel better.
For clients that only purchased one item or service, go back and find out how much they love that one thing and suggest appropriate additional items (by way of testimonials or relevant stories about others who subsequently purchased more items or services from you and benefited).
And, for your ideal clients – they should be your best source of referrals.
Caution: Account-based selling is not to be confused with account-based marketing. This is more personal and individualized than mass emails. It is a phone call or a completely personalized email. It is doing research about what is going on with them now and making suggestions to help them. You should have account-based marketing systems churning as well, but that is not my area of expertise.
Step Three: Systematize It and Repeat
This is the hard part. So, if you thought Step One and Step Two were hard, buckle up buttercup. If you don’t systematize them, then they will always be a chore. Here are some suggestions about systematizing.
- Block time on your calendar every week for some form of account-based selling. If you have done the first two steps, then you will always have a place to focus during this time.
- When you close a new piece of business make it a process to put your tickler system, CRM or calendar a time in the future to check in and find out what else that client might need, or who they can refer.
As a matter of fact, tell them that when you close the sale. It can sound like this: “Thank you for your trust. I am looking forward to connecting with you in 60 days to insure complete satisfaction. And so that you know, I will likely ask you for a referral when we talk then.” Easy-peasy. This should be automatic.
- Every lost opportunity should have a systematized follow-up schedule as well. If you didn’t part as enemies then you already have rapport. Might as well use it, either to step in when the lead regrets their decision or to receive referrals as a way of making amends for not choosing you. Just don’t go dark.
Along the way, let the marketing side of the equation periodically touch base with both clients and lost opportunities. So, if you don’t have marketing content that could be helpful to clients, now would be a great time to create something, or just assemble some insightful articles from others and put them in your library to share. The key here is that the messages should be helpful to clients, not just brazen marketing to try and push your services.
Simple, Yes. Easy…
That’s it. I said it was simple and the principles are very simple. But I didn’t say it would be easy.
It may not be easy to set aside the time to pull the list. It may not be easy to create the kind of messaging you want to use, and it certainly will not be easy to stick to a structured system to connect with clients and lost opportunities. However, if you put this system in place and diligently follow it, your sales life will become easier and more efficient over time.