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Account Development: Strategy you can’t live without [Week 2 of 6]

Posted by on January 18, 2012

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Account Development

Last week, we talked about the world of sales execution. A focused, seasoned sales force can succeed on its own merits through sheer force of will. But that uphill push, with all the accompanying stress, too often leads to resignations, terminations and even total failure.

Truly strategic account development, on the other hand, will allow your team to constructively engage their clients, support each other’s efforts and—most importantly—achieve their sales goals.

So why is creating a sales strategy such a daunting task? The truth is, it doesnt need to be difficult or complicated, either in its creation or implementation. What it does require is thoughtfulness from all levels of the sales team. Strategic account development can be divided into four distinct stages:

1. Market Analysis

As in any undertaking of this sort, the process begins with data collection. Pertinent business trends, key accounts and their decision makers, plus company goals (yours and your clients’) must be identified and prioritized. Adequate time and effort must be given to this process of “account targeting” and must involve all levels of the sales team. It is the basis for everything to come.

2. Strategy Development

The development of the strategic plan requires some serious critical thinking. At the very least, it must incorporate company objectives, the strengths and weaknesses of the competition, and provide customer-centric solutions that will drive sales growth. In addition, as a sub-strategy, an account profile should be completed for every client. This profile details the tactics used and steps followed to retain and grow this specific client.

3. Solutions Presentation

Engagement is the key to success in account development. If you can prove that you understand the needs of the client, then you will inevitably move up the “strategic relationship ladder. As you do, your relationship with the client will advance from mere tolerance of your role as a salesperson to an intimate dependence on you as a solutions provider. This concept is fundamental to building and maintaining long term, lucrative clients. In addition, it’s imperative at this stage to gather further information to fine-tune solutions for your client.

4. Ongoing Evaluation

It can’t be said enough: Monthly and quarterly, critically-driven business reviews must be conducted and must include the entire sales team. Each member of the sales team has a unique perspective that bears on the whole. We apply the proven SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) system to integrate new ideas, substrategies and goals.

All this is just a very small taste of what happens in the classroom and in the field during our Strategic Account Development workshop. At CGWA, our 5 targeted Sales Execution Workshops are each developed, tested, and refined in the field—in response to real sales execution issues faced by super-successful commercial teams. Next week, we’ll talk about the second of these workshops: Competitive Targeting and Selling. Meet me there!

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