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Contents of this newsletter:
Let me start out with a bit of an apology. E-mail newsletters shouldn't be much longer than two or three pages or the writer runs the risk of having his readers eyes glaze over in the middle of the document. But this first issue of my Major Accounts Bulletin is really more of a primer than a newsletter. So, please bear with the length and accept my promise that future issues will be much more restrained.
In this first issue, we will cover quite a bit of ground in brief overview "snapshots." In future issues, we will dig in much deeper on these subjects as well as others of importance.
What follows is the distilled wit, wisdom, and eloquence of major account selling in a technology company environment. A lot of mistakes have been made by a large number of people in gaining this beachhead knowledge. I hope it will be valuable to you. More importantly, I hope you use it to build your major account sales revenue and to the benefit of the people you serve in business.
2. An imperfect definition of major account selling
Major accounts in technology companies develop on the supply (industry) side as partnerships, alliances, joint ventures, or distribution agreements. And, on the demand (market) side as customers or end users of your products. This newsletter will primarily concern itself with customers or end users of your products. Secondarily, we will write about industry relationships as well.
Here's a one-size-fits-all definition for major account selling:
Major Account Selling is a business transaction between two companies that is sizeable in terms of financial value or vital in terms of strategic significance and content.
It is a customer (real or potential) in the proverbial 20% of the old 80/20 maxim (80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers).
3. "Major account" can be a relative term
In another sense, major account selling is a relative term. Its meaning all depends on who you are talking to:
The thing that unifies major accounts is that they are the biggest and/or most important business managed by those involved in the transaction, they are usually handled directly by the company, and they are (or should be) strategically planned, sold, and managed.
4. Major accountsa way of life
When a company understands all of the ramifications of major account selling, it becomes a way of life for the sales operationthe basis upon which a company organizes its entire marketing, sales, service, and profit structure. Why? Because it maximizes sales and customer leverage in every channel of distribution.
If it is economical and cost-effective to leverage at the top of the sales pyramid, why not extend that leverage principle downward throughout the selling operation? Why not company-direct sales of $50 million a year coming from 8 customers instead of $50 million from 200 customers? How much efficiency would that add to any technology company's direct sales operation? How much easier would it be to satisfy 8 customers completely than 200 partially? And what would that do to bottom line profitability?
5. Value-added services
At its most valuable level, major account selling is more than selling in volume to customers. It is adding essential services beyond your basic product that galvanizes an account and makes them invulnerable to competition. There are two levels of value-added services:
Major account selling delivers both, but adding to customer profitability is the key. Most technology companies can provide product price and performance. Competitive advantage is built by helping to deliver more business to the customer at greater profitability to them.
6. Persuasion and performance orientation
Major account selling is often equated with "relationship" selling, but relationships are not at the heart of the matter; persuasion and performance are. What does that mean? It is the persuasive promise and delivery of measured results that sells and persuades, rather than selling skills or personal relationships. The entire process of planning, selling, implementing, servicing, and satisfying "sells" the customer team. And success is measured by results based on performance benchmarks, not on nebulous promises of value, someday, somehow.
If the promise fails to materialize, persuasion and performance must change, or customers renege on agreements, and major account sales never go beyond initial implementation. "The proof is in the pudding" in major account selling. If you promise the world, you better deliver it.
7. Your strongest major account customer candidates
8. Three phases of account development
There are three separate and distinct phases in every major account sale and relationship as follows:
In other words, unlike old-school selling, which was mostly about getting front-end commitment, major account selling is an ongoing process that only begins when the contract gets signed. The business relationship is of utmost importance. The value of the business relationship grows out of grooming the process. Each phase unfolds over time. As promises are kept the business relationship grows. Adding revenues and profitability to each party when successfuldoing neither when unsuccessful.
9. What customers want
Customers are looking for measurable results:
Quantifying these benefits and working together to achieve them is the heart and soul of the major account relationship.
10. Major account selling or major account managing?
People always ask if major account selling is a selling position or a managing position. The answer is that it's both. It's a selling position in that it requires the services of a major accounts salesperson who opens doors and initiates new relationships with new peopleor new relationships with familiar people (existing customers). The hallmark skills of major account selling are rapport building, persuasion, and the ability to get commitment.
On the other hand, it is a managing position because it is also about fulfilling the commitments of the relationshipkeeping promises and making things work. These are the skills of a planner, thinker, and implementer who fulfills the role of the major accounts manager.
It's a rare individual who covers the most important ground on both sides of the ledger. Which is why major account selling is...
11. A team operation
Teams dominate both the selling and buying sides of a major account sale and operate best in a cooperative or collaborative mode. The best major account candidates come from happy campers already in your customer base who know and trust you. New or untested customers generally don't have a sufficient track record to extend the trust necessary to make major account relationships work at their best.
The selling team is usually composed of representatives from corporate, marketing, sales, and customer service (satisfaction). The following general responsibilities apply by functional group:
The buying (customer) team usually has representatives from corporate, technology, finance, and operations, in the following functional roles:
12. Valuable major account links and articles
Upside Today, www.upside.com
that large corporate account by Guy Sothie
revolutions: saying partner isn't enough
Microprocessor Hall of Fame--Moore's Law Defined
Guerrilla Guide to High-Tech Trade Events
How to develop a partnering
What is customer relationship
management? by Bob Thompson
Match marketing to
your company's maturity by Geoffrey Moore
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