Selling Skills for Account Executives

With the New Year upon us, many sales organizations have their gazes fixed forward with a focus on obtaining new business. This plan, at its core, is a good and positive thing. Where the issue arises is when this plan for growth depends solely on that new business coming from new customers.

This makes the plan astronomically harder than it has to be.

By shifting that forward gaze backward, onto existing clients, companies can realize a plethora of untapped revenue possibilities.

And the key to tapping into that revenue lies within the selling skills of your account executives. They are the ones who have the established relationships and rapport with their list of customers; it is they who hold the keys to these “hidden” revenue sources.

Here are some things that every sales account executive should be doing – and not just during the first quarter – but all year long.

Plan key accounts.

This can begin with a review of past buying habits. The longer the client has been a customer the more data should be available for assessment. Ask and answer questions like:

• What was your customer doing last year, last quarter, or last month at this time?

• Were they stocking up on your products or enlisting your services?

• Are there any noticeable buying patterns, habits or cycles?

• Do you have record of the sales tactics that worked for this particular customer – and those that didn’t?

Hint: if you haven’t been keeping helpful notes and detailed records for each account, now is the time to start!

Once you’ve refreshed your memory on the history of each customer, begin collecting current information that could be helpful.

• Identify what your customer is currently doing and identify competitive advantages

For example, has your customer switched over the majority of their paper supply needs to your company but has been hesitant to trust you with their hardware needs, like copiers and printers? Maybe they have an existing and comfortable relationship with an old vendor for that segment of the business.

This would be your chance to jump in and explain not only the ease of having just one point of contact and reducing accounting hassles, but also the savings they could experience by “bundling” the services and products from your company.

• Next, consider other divisions within the same company – are there departments that could be using your products or services but aren’t?

This is an opportunity to leverage the existing relationship with your customer to help you get a foot in the door with those other departments. In other words, ask your contact to make the introduction.

Hint: If you’ve done a good job of fostering and growing the relationship to ensure you have a happy customer, there’s a good chance that they’ll not only make the introduction, they’ll put in a good word for you, making your sales job that much easier.

With these tips we’ve barely scratched the surface on the potential business that lies within existing accounts. The point we’d like to make is that new business doesn’t have to be synonymous with new customers.