Dave Shaby is Chief Operating Officer of RAIN Groupa Top Sales Training Company, and author of “Virtual Selling”
Imagine selling everything you need to sell across all capabilities of your business to your existing customers. If all purchasing centers bought all the capabilities they should buy, how much would your key account sales increase?
When people spend time analyzing this, they discover that the potential to expand sales to existing customers is huge.
Given the high growth potential, many companies are putting more effort into proactive key account sales, but few are achieving the results they should. The problem is they can’t create their own opportunities, or for some reason just can’t create.
Before going any further, it is important to establish the difference between the buyer’s demand and the seller’s question.
Buyer-driven question:The buyer begins the buying process, establishes the intention to buy, and contacts suppliers. If a buyer buys something now and plans to continue buying it, it is also considered buyer-driven demand because the demand has already been established.
Seller-driven question:The seller is the driving force behind why a buyer initiates a buying process. In this situation, the buyer would not have started the process without the intervention of the seller. In other words, the seller creates the opportunity.
Sellers often don’t realize that selling is actually very different when the sellers are driving demand. Only after people realize this do they start to succeed in creating their own opportunities.
For example, accounting firms that sell tax and auditing services and derive the majority of their revenue from referrals also have tremendous opportunities to sell financial advice, management consulting, technology products and services, human resources and benefits, and more to existing clients. Banks have corporate customers who carry checking and savings accounts, but not investments, pensions, insurance, loans and others. Many tech companies have only a fraction of what they sell installed in their customers’ locations; they have opportunities to grow their service revenues beyond product sales. The same goes for industrial products, from medical devices to semiconductors to heavy equipment; business services, from executive search to outsourcing to marketing; and other professional service industries, such as law, engineering, construction and so on.
There’s only one thing standing in their way: figuring out how successfully and proactively drive demand†
As we work with companies to help them increase their key account sales, we often see the same challenges emerging. Sometimes the problems are organizational: challenges related to strategy, resources, reward, culture, accountability and so on. But even in the companies that have their organizational house in order, the key account sales process falls through when teams fail to create their own opportunities.
Figuring out what to sell to your key accounts
To succeed in creating opportunities, you must first excel at what we call internal value discovery† Internal value detection is a process of assessing how your company can add more value to an account. It is usually done in a meeting or series of meetings and, if done right, has a specific process for creating the best results.
In our study†High Performance Benchmark Report in Strategic Account Management, we learned that high performers (those who sold much more and made more profit from key accounts) were much better at their internal process of discovering additional ways they could provide value to customers. Too many companies skip this step, don’t have the right people in the room to bring out the best ideas, or don’t have a good process for leading these types of meetings.
The whole process comes to a standstill if these meetings don’t happen — or don’t go well. But when they get to grips with the internal value discovery process, it’s like the lights come on: the opportunities seem to come alive and the enthusiasm for implementation goes from ho-hum to genuine enthusiasm. When this happens, sellers empower themselves to unlock the biggest untapped opportunity in key account sales: driving their own demand and generating new business opportunities.