How to Grow Existing Accounts

More revenue… More sales… Exceeding quota… These are all statements that sales professionals think about and focus on. However, many sales professionals associate hitting these targets with finding new customers rather than cultivating, nourishing and enhancing existing relationships. This week’s Sales Performance Blog will focus on growing business through existing relationships by implementing proven best practices that will help you achieve your desired targets.

Uncover additional needs through active listening

Actively listening to your customers not only allows you to get a better grasp of their situation, but also determines what else you could do to facilitate their growth and fulfill their expectations. Dig deeper by asking open-ended questions. Oftentimes, companies do not know exactly what their needs are or struggle to properly articulate their concerns. Even if they are aware of the fact that something is amiss, they may not have the knowledge or the tools to correct their deficiencies. Help your customers identify the problem and develop customized solutions. Explain to them how the additional products or services you provide will make a difference and put them on the right track.

Find ways to keep in touch and stay top-of-mind with customers

Your customers regularly receive phone calls, business proposals and sales brochures from a variety of businesses that are eager to capture their attention, including your competition. Therefore, you should find ways to stay on their radar and maintain top-of-mind awareness for your brand. Keep them informed of your progress, educate them about new offerings and let them know what is transpiring within your corporation.

If you come across an interesting article, an op-ed or a press release that is pertinent to their line of business, send them an email and encourage them to check out the link. In addition, distribute a well-written and informative newsletter, allowing you to share news stories and industry insights and position yourself as a thought leader. Remember, building credibility is a life-long process. With all the choices that exist in the market, your customers may walk away as soon as they spot a better alternative or encounter a smarter, more efficient and more reliable service provider. To avoid this scenario, maintain regular contact with your prospects, show genuine interest in their situation and do everything it takes to help them achieve their goals.

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Build trusting relationships with ALL the major influencers in the organization

When you develop a solid and mutually-beneficial relationship with a buyer, don’t stop there. Start “diving” deeper into the organization and try to approach peers, colleagues and executives who may also be interested in having a chat with you. Avoid being too blatant, aggressive or obtrusive which may deter your customer from introducing you to others. Explain to the buyer why scheduling a meeting with his/her co-workers is important and how the whole team could benefit from your suggestions, insights and offerings.

Stay Innovative

One way to focus on your long-standing customers is to stay innovative. Analyze your relationship and product mix with the organization to determine in what direction you can expand your reach. Is there a way to work within your organization to get the best deal for one of your best customers? Is there something that you can do to show your appreciation just like giving away the free sweatshirt?
Think about different ideas that might make your contact look good in front of the company and its managers. Get creative with your service to the customer, such as sponsoring an educational seminar or getting involved in the customer’s favorite charity. Constantly look for ways to show your gratitude for their business and at the same time help them understand the value of you and your company.

Provide superior customer service

Providing excellent customer care is a huge part of the relationship-building process. Show each buyer your appreciation by offering holiday specials, occasional discounts, free industry reports and other perks and benefits that will help you ensure their long-term satisfaction, strengthen your relationship and even lead to business referrals.

Special Offerings

Look at offers and special pricing to add to their agreement. For instance, a customer could add an additional product to its contract and in return agree to an additional year under the current subscription. Customers welcome this and find value in the ability to have the latest release and the predictability in their budget for another year.

Sales Managers Tip – Incentivize your reps to get more from existing relationships

A savvy sales manager should not only provide incentives for spotting new opportunities and landing new clients, but also reward sales reps for capitalizing on existing customers. Schedule regular meetings to discuss various cross-selling and up-selling strategies and figure out which buyers could benefit the most from similar services. How do you determine who your key accounts are, those who provide the biggest revenue and are more likely to make additional purchases? Do you think you could put extra effort into revisiting long-forgotten accounts? And what does it take to reignite their interest? Encourage your sales reps to put together a list of the most lucrative accounts every month and allocate a sufficient amount of time catering to each buyer. Stress the importance of this activity, explain how it is going to influence their earnings, and always keep them accountable.

Have an Annual Account Review

The phrase “account review” is used in a variety of different contexts in the sales world. It can mean account executives conducting individual account reviews with each separate client or it can mean sales managers meeting with individual reps to discuss the latter’s current accounts, opportunities for growth within presently existing clients, and targets for outreach into new prospects and clients.
For the purposes of this post, we mean the latter kind – sales managers meeting with individual account reps to review the present state of accounts and a wider review of the sales pipeline – with an eye towards establishing annual goals related to pipeline growth and expansion of business within current clients.

How a Sales Manager Should Prepare for an Annual Account Review

The sales manager’s job in preparing for annual account reviews is two-fold: 1) having a general overall sense of the market conditions for their given industry(ies) and a rough composite of which directions to pursue internal client growth and pipeline expansion; and 2) determining growth and pipeline stocking goals for each individual sales rep. Note: We’re not talking about revenue targets here – that’s the realm of sales forecasting. Remember, this is about activities within the existing client structure and filling the pipeline.

When you have an idea of the general economic conditions through research and tracking of trends (including anticipating possible events that can be reasonably accounted for), you have a baseline factor to weigh against sales reps’ past performance and help determine future expectations.

Whether all account executives in an organization should have the exact same goals or whether targets should be individually set depends on your business situation. For example, if you divide your sales map according to territories, then greater customization comes into play. For example, an account executive in an A territory would naturally have higher expectations than one in a C territory, and your KPI benchmarks for the coming quarters and year should reflect that. Conversely, if your vertical is geographically agnostic (such as a business that’s primarily online or inside sales based), a uniform setting of account metrics makes far more sense.

To help your reps prepare for the meeting, give them advance notice of when the review will take place – at least a week, preferable two. If you only give them a couple days’ notice (or even less!), then the account review likely isn’t going to be very productive – it’ll be a lot of fluff and little substance.

Also consider sending an agenda along with the notice of the meeting. This will give your direct reports a better idea of what exactly you want to cover and thus be ready to relate relevant information and fruitful discussion.

How Account Managers Should Prepare for an Annual Account Review

How Annual Account Reviews Can Shape the Sales Year

In reality, an account manager’s preparation for an annual account review never ends. Customer and pipeline data is constantly input into the CRM and should be updated after each and every interaction. That said, when you know your account review is coming up, take time to go through the information you’ve compiled and create a document for yourself.

This document will include items like current accounts, prospects, opportunities for expansion in existing accounts, potential prospects within organizations of current accounts, networking contacts, etc. Ideally, all data should be scored through whatever opportunity score formula your organization uses.

With opportunity scoring, you can devise a ranking list of most likely or attractive prospects on down, and you’ll have the necessary information to talk intelligently about which growth opportunities you’re going to pursue over the coming year and your plan of action for pursuing those targets. If your organization doesn’t have an opportunity score formula, consider constructing one yourself, based on the KPIs and metrics your organization views as important. Even if it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped, you’ll have shown initiative and creative thinking, which your employer will value.

If you’re having difficulty even coming up with a list of targets – perhaps you haven’t been as diligent about updating your CRM as you should or maybe your territory is operating at near-maximum capacity, talk to your clients and networking contacts about referrals for people and organizations who might have a need for your product. Then block out time for yourself every week to update your CRM and engage in business development, so you’re not scrambling at the next account review.
Practicing what you’re going to say is also a good idea. Use the agenda your manager hopefully provided to get a sense of the discussion’s sequence and mentally prepare for that order.

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Bottomline: Growing existing accounts is a powerful sales strategy that should NEVER be ignored. Driven and savvy sales professionals should create a specific action plan designed to foster, cultivate and leverage existing relationships and get the most of every opportunity.