We went into territory and account sales set up and coverage a while back. There we discussed the efficiency model that works for the sales organization while covering the needs of customers large and small.
There are several models for companies to protect and expand their turf next. Specifically around large, strategic or bread and butter customers, vendors may opt to go beyond mere account management, which often means keeping the salesperson who garnered the customer, and adding firepower. For companies that are large enough to marshal resources, this may come in the form of a Customer Success organization or CS (which works with customers overtime to retain and engage them). It may come as Global Account Management or GAM (which unites the various subsidiaries in different territories with potentially different account managers). It may be Strategic/Large Account Management or SAM group that acts, as the name says, more strategically and has longer term horizons. This team should act beyond quarterly pressures.
Make no mistake, the purpose is always to sell and derive revenue. These motions are more circumspect in the sense that they have longer time horizons. They are less tactical while also opening up the core sales team’s bandwidth for pressing sales. Obviously, provided a service motion is rendered customer churn is minimized. It is also always less difficult to retain a customer than acquire a new one.
With this in mind here are the best practices to get the strategic sales process right:
- Identify The Accounts: Which customers require an overarching strategic oversight across multiple divisions or time zones? The typical customer candidate is larger, has revenue attached and is in the right vertical so far as the vendor’s solution is concerned.
- Hire The Right Person: The right personality is knowledgeable, garners loyalty and can go deep into the account. How many professionals staff this department varies. Strategic account managers need to be assigned to selective accounts. They would also have executive support, but simultaneously there needs to be a critical mass that allows for efficiency and repeatable best practices.
- Next Step Process: How and when is the customer passed on from the acquiring and current account manager into the new department? How is the customer informed and why should they care? Sales management should ensure that a process is set and validated including how preset time-lines.
- Start The Account Management: It is time to clearly understand the customer’s business, priorities and what matters to them. In addition to the transfer of information from the then-current account manager, conversations with key staff at the customer, the customer’s Quarterly reports and other declarations and developments within the customer’s industry will shape and inform this step. This includes an Account Plan.
- How Does The Above Customer Profile Align With Strategic Account Management? Simply put, what will the team do with the information gleaned? Act upon the information that is collected. Share it with the customer once conclusions are reached and there is a plan beyond an outline. Solicit sincere feedback. This is to get it right, but also to foster trust and partnership. It is important that the outline that is shared with the customer is from their perspective and not one-sided. Also, what will the Strategic point person do with the relationships made? Feedback is used and put into practice.
- Lather, Rinse And Repeat: This is an iterative process that will be updated periodically. The customer is evolving, the vendor’s solution is updating and the plan and approach require updates. Measurement will be a part of the management process and successes should be fostered and a gap analysis should look for missed areas.
Things That Need To Go Away: Strategic Global Account Management With The Same Quarterly Goal As Regular Account Management.