Today we will discuss the five operating principles on which a successful major accounts program rests. They are 1) Management commitment, 2) Customer collaboration, 3) An operating plan... SalesLinks HomeMentor Associates sales training and consulting services recommend this sitefaqdedicationsite map
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The Five Most Important Elements in Major Account Success

Jack Carroll
by Jack Carroll

Contents of this newsletter:

  1. The five most important elements in major account success
  2. Learning-org, an Internet dialog on learning organizations
  3. The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith
  4. Customer loyalty compass
  5. Software tools for value assessment
  6. To make more money, reduce your client list


1. The five most important elements in major account success

Now that we are deeply into this thing called major account selling, I thought it would be a good idea to circle back to some of the organizational fundamentals that would have bored you to death if they were presented at the beginning. They are the five most critical elements in determining the success of your program.

Thus far we have written mostly about the strategic and tactical elements of major account selling. Today we will discuss the foundational aspects of your program—the five operating principles on which a successful program rests. They are as follows:

  • Management commitment
  • Customer collaboration
  • An operating plan with a process
  • Team participation
  • Measurement or accountability

Management commitment. Nothing substantive or of lasting value will happen in any company without the buyoff and approval of senior management. That's the way that life works in the corporate world. Forget about all of the talk about "internal corporate guerillas." When it comes to the actions that make major account selling successful, anything less than enterprise commitment will result in partial implementation and partial success.

There are three fundamental management commitment drivers in the corporate world: unfavorable business conditions calling for change, customer demand, or enlightened senior management. Without one or more of these three factors active in your company, the likelihood of senior management commitment is slim to none.

Customer collaboration. Major account selling is a two way street. It is not something that you do to get customers. But rather something that you do with customers. The most successful programs have customer input and cooperation at every stage of planning, implementation, and measurement. The process is driven by the "selling" company but is a mutual, not independent, process.

Occasionally, companies may be in a position to dictate autocratic terms to customers, but such advantages are always temporary. When the dust settles and competition enters the market, customers will remember the company that dictated terms. A formidable example in today's marketplace is Microsoft. Any company that dictates customer terms when it has a competitive advantage will be resented and resisted when that advantage goes away.

An operating plan with a process. In major account selling, the plan is the sale and the sale is the plan. What is communicated and sold are the results and the process or methods that will be used to accomplish those results. Sun Microsystems popularized the concept that "the network is the computer." Likewise in major account selling, "the plan is the sale." Products, services, results, and deal metrics are individual elements in the plan that guide and direct the process of the transaction and the relationship.

Team Participation. Like soccer and baseball, major account selling is a team sport. The major account transaction is the product of both the selling company and the buying company—cooperating groups that we will call "teams." The plan and the process of the major account sale are constructs of all participants coming to agreement for their mutual benefit. They are put together by cooperating teams on both sides of the transaction and are implemented by those teams.

Team business participation has been particularly strong in companies that have implemented quality programs during the last 25 years. But teams have been slow to deploy in sales functions, due largely, I think, to the traditionally isolated or detached nature of the sales function. New standards and models are being written in the sales profession and the area of innovation is no more in evidence than in major account selling and in this aspect of a team approach.

Measurement or accountability. What is measured or accounted for are the results or "benchmarks" established in the plan. Any major accounts program without built-in measurability is a deficient program. There are two important measurement metrics: plan milestones and financial results. Milestones are specific actions or events that take place during the implementation of the plan.

Positive financial results are the principal business reasons that everyone entered into the transaction. The underlying financial result that everyone is looking for is improved profitability. This will come in one of three ways: increased revenue, reduced cost, or improved productivity.

When setting up measurement criteria, remember "sell-through." Your sell-through is the financial success of your customer/partner. Their sell-through is the financial success and satisfaction of their customer.

Class dismissed. Now go out and sell something.

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Major Account Selling

Learn how to...

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  • protect current accounts from slippage and competition
  • quantify the value of your products and services to customers
  • blueprint your major account sales process
  • plan and implement team selling and compensation

Nothing you can do in sales and marketing has the payoff potential of major account selling when it is intelligently implemented in your company. Call us for information on how we can help you put all of the pieces together.

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Valuable links on major account selling:

2. Learning-org, an Internet dialog on learning organizations

Discussion group thread on management commitment.


3. The Wisdom of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith

Popular business book about how to organize and use effective teams


4. Customer loyalty compass

An action-based process for building and sustaining customer retention and value, from Customer Retention Associates.


5. Software tools for value assessment

Extraordinary customer value add tools that you can try before you buy. From SalesToolz, Inc.


6. To make more money, reduce your client list

Words of wisdom from Peppers and Rogers.



Major Accounts Bulletin archives:

  1. Welcome and overview
  2. Follow their buying process
  3. Geoffrey Moore's Chasm Models
  4. Selling styles in major account selling
  5. CRM and major account selling—what's the buzz?
  6. The five most important elements in major account success
  7. Incredibly valuable tools and resources

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Jack Carroll's "Dirty Dozen"

Major accounts fitness test

Major account selling services

Jack Carroll's biography

Sales bibliography

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