Account planning, you might ask? And we’d answer: yes, account planning – not account maintenance or account nurturing, although, effective sales account planning can certainly incorporate a sense of nurturing.
It goes back to the commonly held notion that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer happy. While the “research” conducted over the past 30 years has this acquisition cost ranging from three to 30 times as much – let’s suffice it to say that it makes sense to tend to those existing customers.
However, who’s to say that a happy customer correlates with a customer who is continuing to spend money – or at least, increasing amounts of money?
You may be satisfied with the way your sales reps and account executives are maintaining their key accounts, but we feel they could be doing so much more.
Make the Shift from Maintenance to Planning
It’s easy enough for sales reps to engage in the occasional witty banter with their key accounts; keep a smile on their faces and keep those checks coming every month. But why not try to make those monthly checks bigger by reassessing customer needs on a regular basis? Surely their needs have changed or priorities shifted over time, just like those at your own organization.
Are your sales reps or account executives doing the following:
- Consistently assessing each account on a regular basis?
- Ensuring that customer sales channels are fully optimized? Could your company help them improve?
- Researching their customers’ competition, ensuring the customer keeps a leg up?
- Presenting your organization’s newest products and services, giving them the inside track for being a great customer?
- Brainstorming how your organization can even better meet their needs, perhaps by adding on new services or changing up the current product mix?
Of course, the ability to deliver on these questions requires that your sales reps have an in-depth and up-to-date understanding of all of the products and services that your organization offers. They should know this information forward and backward. If you aren’t completely confident that this is the case, take the steps to train your entire organization and get them up to speed.
Above all, your sales reps need to be strategic and they need to be proactive. Your customers don’t know what they need until you inform them and educate them on the things they need. This information can be gleaned with a simple needs assessment – and not the needs assessment that was performed two years ago.
How impressed would your customer be if a sales rep took the time to schedule a call to gauge progress and make suggestions for how they could improve – especially if those suggestions included a competitor assessment and new recommendations? Thus, the essence of true account planning.
The last thing you want to have happen is for customers to come to you, asking what they can do to improve. At this point, they’re likely asking other companies the same thing.
If your team can’t foresee the changing needs of your existing customers, maybe it’s time you helped them.