Last week 2 sales managers complained they needed ’the big win’ from several of their sales people.
Whether it’s first, second, third or fourth quarter – landing big accounts would do wonders for meeting or even busting the sales quota, along with getting that extra big bonus check.
So why aren’t your sales reps breaking into these big accounts?
Does it take a different sales person?
Is the sale more complex than small to medium size deals?
Will the ‘big ones’ even do business with your size of company?
I went to the expert, Lisa Magnuson Founder and CEO of Top Line Sales to find the answers. She’s the expert on driving in Top Accounts. She uses a war room strategy and gets it done. Whether that’s a $10 million dollar account or a $100,000 contract is based on the company’s history and current average dollar per account.
Alice: Lisa, if large accounts were easy to land every sales person would have more – yet they don’t. Why?
A strategic sale requires sellers to do all the basics of their normal sales process but overlay some additional strategically-oriented activities.
For example, a simple sale might be one or two calls, usually involving a single decision maker and straightforward buying criteria, and the perceived risk of the decision to the customer is low.
A strategic sale is longer (months or years), and usually the dollar value is high, with more people involved on both the buyer and seller sides. Additionally, the perceived risks to the customer may be higher, and the buying criteria is much more complex, etc.
I’ve found that sellers know that landing really large deals or TOP Line Accounts™, whether an expansion with a current customer or a new business opportunity, takes more than their normal approach.
Strategic elements have to be in place, such as: win themes™, goals and tactics, relationship maps, executive cultivation plans, and competitive assessments.
Alice: What are the pitfalls associated with strategy planning for a TOP Line Account™?
Lisa: Over the years I’ve observed the same ‘show stoppers’ over and over again with regards to strategy planning for your largest opportunities or largest customers.
- A weak team leader
- Strong start, poor execution over time
- Prioritizing day-to-day over TOP Line Account™ planning
- Thinking inwardly, not outwardly
- Narrow focus. Not looking for all the opportunities within the account
- Little or no key customer executive engagement
- Lack of an unwavering belief that long term strategic account planning pays off
On the flip side, when these critical elements are in place, there’s no stopping the team in landing or retaining TOP Line Accounts™!
Alice: You mention Win Themes™ frequently. Can you explain what they are?
Lisa: Win Themes™ allows you to find the sweet spot of receptivity, which will improve your sales conversation dramatically.
They’re the intersection of your prospect’s priorities and the strengths of your products or services. Win themes™ should be used to prepare for all presentations and important sales calls.
For example, one of my clients was preparing an RFP response to expand their business with a current customer. The opportunity was worth millions of dollars to my client.
We took the time to develop three solid Win Themes™ and then went back through the RFP to make sure that each and every answer in their response pointed to one of the win themes™.
We also included an example to reinforce the message. The examples were ‘evidence’ of the Win Theme™ and provided solid proof. Their response went from generic (template based) to compelling and it was a game-changer for them. They won the contract!
Alice: What are the ‘windows of opportunity’ as it relates to calling on the C-suite?
Lisa: For your TOP Line Accounts™ (i.e. largest prospect or most important customers worth at least 2x your average customer or deal size), once the win celebration is over, the focus on expansion should begin.
There’s a window of opportunity right after contract signature and implementation where a lot can get accomplished. Many people miss this brief but critical opening.
Executives are interested in the very beginning stages of a project (i.e. deciding if the project will move their company agenda forward) and the end stages where they are assessing their return on investment. If you haven’t accessed the executive on the front end, don’t miss the window of opportunity on the back end of the sales process.
Another example of a critical item in the post-sales cycle is taking the time to do a retrospective meeting with your primary contact prior to implementation. It’s often too late after everyone gets busy with implementation and any small bump in the road can derail your ability to learn from the sales process.
Alice: Thanks Lisa. Managers will be glad to know it is possible for every sales rep to land the big account with different these different tools.
About Lisa Magnuson: Lisa Magnuson is an expert in corporate strategic sales and TOP Line Account™ revenue building. As a respected sales consultant and author, Lisa works with clients to build successful strategic sales programs that drive revenue from large new accounts and enable growth from existing high value customers. Learn more at www.toplinesales.com.