Written by Sean McPheat |
Closing the sale is one thing. However successfully managing the account is yet another level of selling entirely. In particularly, when dealing with large, major or key accounts; after the sale management is where the actual selling begins. The following is a generic, but effective plan to help you better manage key accounts.
Consult & Advise
If you did your job well, then during the sales process you were able to elevate yourself to the level of an advisor, a trusted consultant to your client. If you did not achieve this or if due to your sales process it has not yet happened, now is the time. You have to continue to solve problems and provide advice. In addition to being an expert on your product, you are an industry expert and you need to show it.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to offer much of this advice at no charge to the client. If that is not possible, offer something. You have to establish ways to help the client without asking for payment.
Also, find at least two additional areas that you can help the client. If your services relate primarily to the help desk, for instance, then begin to look deeper into the IT department and begin to consult on other problems.
Care & Cultivate
Like any good harvest, the planting requires great care and cultivation. The same holds true when growing your relationship with an account. Keep in mind that to cultivate means to plant and invest without any immediate return. You have to plant, and then wait.
Invest time and effort into the account and let them know that you actually care. Ask yourself, when was the last time your clients heard from you when you were NOT selling something? Before you made the commission on the first sale, this prospect was the most important thing in your life. Now that they have become a client, who are they?
Map out an amount of time for each client to spend every week or month just making telephone calls or sending emails that do nothing but touch base. Don’t ask for anything, don’t suggest anything, don’t sell anything. Just ask how all is going and if YOU can help them. Offer some ideas, industry information, etc.
Sell & Service
With all of the above, you must continue to sell. I am not talking about selling new products however. I am talking about selling what you already sold. Continue to sell the value of the product or service the prospect already owns. This continued recommitment and belief in the first sale will open the door to second and third sales.
Often the sales person is well into pushing a second product before the client has actually benefited from the first. For the client, the jury is still out. Continue to sell what you sold.
Then service what you sold and what you have not sold. Help service the client on issues that go beyond your wares and beyond what they own. If there are competitive products, help the client with problems associated with that LESSER product or service.
When you do this, you will find that you will not have to ask for additional orders; the client will ask you and insist.
Originally published: 10 December, 2012