There’s an old gardening maxim that says: the best fertilizer is the footprints of the gardener. In other words, stop looking for quick fixes! Get out there and pay attention to your plants. Observe how they are growing. Give your plants what they want, when they want it and you will have a beautiful, bountiful harvest. Account management in sales is a lot like that. The best sales fertilizer is the footprints of the seller.
I Just Want To Cancel Everything
That’s what 80% of my existing accounts said when I first contacted them. Along with prospecting new business, I was assigned a satchel full of existing accounts. What’s amusing to me is that these were supposed to be easy pickings compared to going out prospecting for new accounts! On the contrary, I have found it much easier to win new business than to renew my existing customers. Why? Many of my predecessors did a terrible job of account management. Here’s three ways to grow more revenue for your customers:
There’s a barrier to sales, especially in new accounts: your clients have heard it all before, they are skeptical of anyone in sales because they have been dealt a dirty deal in the past. One great way to overcome this is to entrepreneur it. Don’t go in looking for a sale. Go into the meeting looking for the gaps. (Chris Brogan says this is the basis of entrepreneurial thinking) Your immediate goal should not be to sell something, but to start a conversation that uncovers not only where the client wants to be, but where they are now. Then you can help them find a way to bridge that gap, whether it involves your products or not. Once you begin to look at the gaps together as entrepreneurs, an amazing thing happens: a lot of the skepticism disappears. The conversation takes on a whole different tone once you are on the same side of the table together looking at gaps as entrepreneurs.
Ever hear the expression: “dumb as a box of hammers?” Possessing a box full of tools will not build you a great house. I am constantly reminding my clients that inbound marketing tools like: SEO, social media, PPC, reputation management, email marketing are dumb as a box of hammers unless you apply some strategy; put some intelligence into skillfully crafting your voice and building out a fresh, relevant presence online. Business owners I talk to are frazzled. If I don’t regularly ask if they have looked at their stats, updated their blog, added more pictures to that web site, they quite often forget to do so. Customers are delighted that I have thought enough about their growth that I “nag” them into doing that; helping them find ways to automate that. In their quieter moments, they know they should be doing these things to build their presence online, but the tyranny of the urgent has kept them from thinking about it.
Long Tail It.
An amazing thing happened in the earlier part of the last decade. Companies like Amazon and iTunes left the pack of traditional brick and mortar retail and found a lucrative new market leveraging what Chris Anderson would later characterize in his book as the: “the long tail.” Instead of focusing on selling a massive quantities of the “best sellers” and “top tens,” they found a huge revenue stream in selling many smaller quantities of one-offs and low volume titles. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, these retailers looked at how the culture was changing and they changed the game. Many of the clients I talk to each day are desperately in need of innovative business consulting. They don’t want to hear about more products and services. They need game changing ideas. They need someone to help them find the real opportunities that are going to catapult them past their competition.
Strong Account Management Grows More Revenue
In my experience, there’s less reluctance to upgrades and renewals when the customer’s garden has been regularly fertilized by the footprints of the seller; not just ““checking in” or “touching base,” but truly consulting with them and adding value in each interaction.