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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=sales pipeline'>sales pipeline</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=territory plans'>territory plans</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=business objectives'>business objectives</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=revenue opportunities'>revenue opportunities</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=key account management'>key account management</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=next-step strategies'>next-step strategies</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Account Management'>Account Management</a>
Sales Leadership
Feb 10, 2014 | l’Association canadienne des professionnels de la vente lock

Account management is a sales function that requires a vigilant focus on customer needs far before they ask for help. Largely, it is a proactive approach to grow relationships and the accompanying opportunities from such focus. 

When account management is poor, its inefficiencies can result from a lack of focus on key strategies.

Here are 10 common problems you can address to avoid stunting your sales growth: 

1. Your team is only selling, not caring. If your customer is only getting calls at months end when you need to make a quota, then you will be hard pressed to get new business. You should be investing in the relationship ongoing and showing that you care by checking in as any good relationship warrants. It's not just when you want something. 

2. The focus is not on customer problems. When you have new products or services to offer, calling to make a sale becomes about you, not your customer. Going deep into your customer's problems and keeping your mind on how to solve their problems, whether from your own portfolio or other solutions makes you a trusted advisor, someone customers prefer to a salesman pushing products.

3. There is not a defined set of next step strategies. After you make a new sale, you might be loose on the relationship. If you don't get commitments on next dates to have a discussion, or better yet, scheduling when you will check in on their experience, then you miss opportunities for building relationships via natural touch points.

4. The solutions you offer are not specific. Customers want you to know them well and know their industry nuances. If you approach them with a one-size-fits-all approach, this can show a lack of commitment to them. Make your solutions fit, and tell the story in context to their problems.

5. There is no thought leadership. Sharing your ideas and strategies consistently positions you for future conversations. This lends credibility and creates a natural reason to converse. This means publishing your own content and sharing industry news to demonstrate your knowledge.

6. Territory plans are not optimized. If there is no organization around how territories are organized or with accountability, then you can miss many opportunities. It is a sales operations issue that requires management to ensure proper follow-up and visibility. The workload and access should be distributed so that customers feel the right amount of engagement.

7. Business reviews with customers are lacking. Effective account management with a consultative approach means there should be business reviews. Find out if your solutions are helping customers reach their goals. It needs to be outlined and on your calendar. These meetings should have a set approach to uncover the successes, failures and opportunities around your customer's business objectives.

8. You lack strong executive support. Executive support allows you to push through the struggle of falling back on old and unsuccessful management techniques. Be sure to secure the right executive to keep the team focused on the vision you both agree will propel the organization forward. Also, be sure to nurture that relationship to avoid waning interest or enthusiasm.

9. Your pipeline management is poor. This should be an obvious issue, but if your sales process and pipeline management lack structure, accountability and execution, then you will not follow up consistently or at the right times. Fix this with regular weekly pipeline reviews.

10. The customer is not maximizing the value of what they bought. As an expert in your solutions, there is a knowledge gap. If your customer is underutilizing what you provided, then the perceived value is lower than it could be. It is important that you maximize their value perception by engaging and ensuring they get tips, tricks and best practices to use your solution fully and creatively.

These are critical shortcomings to increasing revenue opportunities in your account management. If you focus and organize your efforts around these missing strategies in your approach, it will translate to better relationships and more sales that are natural to a healthy account management approach.

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Copyright ©2014 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
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