Brian W. Sullivan, co-author of SANDLER ENTERPRISE SELLING: Winning, Growing, And Retaining Major Accounts
In selling, we all work with logical groupings of our accounts, both clients and prospects, to add clarity to our sales and service efforts. For example, we group by industry, account size, geography, and commercial vs. public sector. We create these groupings to be more effective and efficient in our efforts to win business and expand accounts.
Think about this. In the animal kingdom, we group similar creatures into categories of species. These designations likely provide scientific value but what meaningful information do you really gain, for example, from knowing that two different animals are both felines? While Siberian Tigers and Siamese Cats are in the same group, their individual traits and tendencies are dramatically different, to say the least. And in the arachnid family, it would be much more valuable to know the actions you can expect from a Black Widow versus a Daddy Long Legs than to simply know they were both spiders. Or the actions that you should take in encountering either of these creepy crawlers.
The same is true with clients and prospects. And while perhaps not in such a life-threatening vein, understanding the differences between and among accounts in terms of their traits and tendencies can be as valuable as knowing that stroking a Siberian Tiger is not a great idea.
So how do you build meaningful profiles of your clients and prospects? You start by thinking about four types of accounts – Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand (KARE). Keep accounts are your bread-and-butter clients. They are not your rainmakers but they generate a substantial amount of your revenue. You want them to remain clients for as long as possible. Attain accounts are your profile prospects – clear targets that you work hard to convert into clients. Recapture accounts are previous clients that, for whatever reason, are no longer active. Unlike past clients whose business you consciously do not pursue, you would like to have these former customers back with you. And lastly, there are your Expand accounts – your most treasured clients. You have invested in them and would look to invest further to promote further growth. These are the strategic clients you want to tuck in at night. They are your future.
Your KARE profiles are constructed of attributes that are specific to your business that are customized to your organization and your business model. As such, they differ from those of another selling organization as your view of what constitutes an Expand account may be very different from another company’s perspective. Once your organization’s attributes are established and you have grouped all of your accounts into the appropriate profiles, you’ve then earned the right to take advantage of the common actions that would apply to each profile. For your Recapture accounts, for example, you will identify steps that must be taken to increase the likelihood that you’ll win these previous customers back. And while you’ll certainly customize your individual account strategies to a degree, the common Recapture actions you’ve crafted will be undertaken with each past customer, each Recapture account. And the same applies to your Keep, Attain and Expand clients. There’s no need to build individual strategies from scratch. Because remember – these clients share the same attributes, the same traits and tendencies. That’s the beauty of having meaningful profiles.
What about current clients you need to stop doing business with – accounts whose profiles simply don’t match with you any longer or perhaps never did? There’s no KARE profile for these accounts. There’s simply an action to take. If these relationships are so fractured that they need to be severed, the actions need to be taken quickly. On the positive side, sometimes taking a difficult action can promote constructive dialogue that will actually improve the situation, retaining the client in your portfolio with new parameters around the relationship. And retaining the client as a newly-designated Keep or Expand account.
As you might imagine, the KARE profile process is a very powerful sales management tool. The clearly-set path forward with the four profiles, based on attributes and common actions, breeds natural management and team accountability.
So, research and understand your clients and prospects as best as you possibly can. Be sure to focus on the truly meaningful information about the traits and tendencies of these accounts over and above the tactical designations. For it is this type of information that is truly actionable. And the actions that result will help you win business and keep your clients.
[Image courtesy of thanunkorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
About the Author
Brian W. Sullivan is co-author, with David H. Mattson, of SANDLER ENTERPRISE SELLING: Winning, Growing, And Retaining Major Accounts (McGraw-Hill / 2016). Sullivan is Vice President of Sandler Enterprise Selling at Sandler Training. Mattson is CEO and President of Sandler Training.
Sandler Training dominates the global training market through an unparalleled network of more than 250 offices worldwide, with professional trainers providing more than 450,000 hours per year of instruction in 23 languages. For more information about Sandler Enterprise Selling please visit https://www.sandler.com/resources/sandler-books/sandler-enterprise-selling.