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When managing top-tier accounts in large markets controlled by a small number of companies, such as automobile and medical device manufacturing, it’s critical to work strategically to close more deals. Unfortunately, in these consolidated markets, it’s also incredibly challenging to win more business.
In tight markets, losing a strategic account can be devastating to your sales results. That’s because it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Even worse, sometimes it may be difficult to figure out why you lost an account. You may wonder where you went wrong or whether you missed early warning signs that your customer was looking to leave.
Fortunately, preserving your strategic accounts in consolidated markets doesn’t have to be an exercise in luck. There’s no need to break into a cold sweat every time your back-and-forth email exchange suddenly becomes a one-way street with a high-value customer.
In these situations, many sales teams make common — and preventable — mistakes. By being aware of these mistakes, you can learn how to minimize their impact. Developing a rock-solid account management strategy will inject consistency and confidence into your approach going forward.
Let’s explore the top three mistakes that strategic account sales teams make in consolidated markets — and the account management best practices you should implement to maximize your success.
In these situations, it’s natural to retrace your steps, looking for missed early-warning signs that your deal was going to implode. Maybe you noticed a change in the frequency of communications, or you latch onto recently discovered information about a massive corporate restructuring initiative at your customer’s organization.
Without a process in place, your guess as to what happened is as good as anyone else’s.
Develop a methodical approach for recognizing these signs. Create a weekly or biweekly schedule to check on what’s happening with the account. Review these questions:
With these regular check-ins, you’ll keep your ear to the ground about changes that could dramatically alter your customer’s interest in your product or service. The earlier you recognize these changes, the earlier you can adjust your strategic account management plan.
Typically, you start a sales relationship by listening to your client’s needs and presenting a value-based solution. You move through the sales funnel with customers because your value proposition resonates with them.
But deals with strategic accounts can take months to close, which means the value proposition that you offer may need to change. You need an account management process for continually adjusting your value proposition so it stays relevant throughout the sales process and beyond the close.
Develop a process for periodically and regularly revisiting the core value proposition that you brought to your customer. Ask yourself these questions:
Ultimately, it’s your job to reach out to your customer at regular intervals to reinforce the value of continuing to work with you, even if the deal will take a year or more to close.
When dealing with a multinational company over months or even years, it’s hard to remember the human element behind every transaction. But sales comes down to a fundamental principle: people buy from people. Remember that behind your customer’s corporate culture stand people with their own needs and emotions.
The biggest success stories in challenging markets are built on years of trust and anchored in genuine, human-to-human relationships. That’s why it’s so important to treat your customers with respect and empathy.
Develop systems and processes for ensuring that you treat the people at your strategic accounts as people, not as numbers on a forecast spreadsheet. When it comes to long-term strategic account management in consolidated markets, investing emotionally in the people you sell to pays huge dividends.
Account management isn’t easy; if it were, you wouldn’t have to worry about losing your high-value accounts. But when you apply consistency and standardization to this aspect of your B2B sales strategy, you’ll strengthen your chances of closing the deals you’ve worked so hard to get.
If you’re ready to create a long-term roadmap for your most strategic accounts in consolidated markets, contact us. We’ve developed an industry-leading approach that we refer to as our Large Account Management Process®.
Let us show you how to win and preserve your strategic accounts with our Gold Sheet, now integrated into our Korn Ferry Sell platform.