So far we have looked at the way sales have been performed in the past and how they have developed the technology available.
We have also looked at Account Based Sales and how it has solved some of the problems that business large and small have faced when it comes to generating the right sales leads and how this all fits together as a link between the traditional functions of marketing and sales. But we will need to take a step back here to look at how Account Based Sales was developed and how it fits into an organization. This is the last chapter in Part 1 of this book so we will tie up all the loose ends of Account Based Sales here before moving on to the benefits of Account Based Sales and how to implement it in an organization.
In 2011 Aaron Ross brought out his book ‘Predictable Revenue’ with much fanfare. It looked at the way that companies prospected for business and how this had to change. It focused on cold calling and the fact that it was something that drew a lot of resources and didn’t generate a great return on that investment. He looked at the way that companies could move away from this costly and painful process and to use “spears, nets and seeds” to find their next set of prospects that they would do business with. It was seen as the dawn of a new era in sales and looked away from chasing ANY potential client by cold calling them and looked at a future of trying to find prospects in the right places by doing the right things. Although it wasn’t actually what we now know as Account Based Sales it started on the path towards it.
In the modern day, Account Based Sales has developed because of moves from the likes of Aaron Ross away from the cold calling culture that had gotten sales reps a bad name in the past. It is far easier to do business with someone you know like and trust that it is to do business with someone just because they happened to knock on your door, pick up the phone or send you an email.
Account Based Sales Development has been talked about a lot in the media, on blogs and at business events as something that will change the way that business deals with their customers. Business To Business sales will never look the same again. At least quality sales from professional companies won’t ever look the same again. There will still be people who don’t know what they are doing just picking up the phone to see what they can uncover. For the rest of us though, those that are enlightened, there is a technique that builds strong relationships and actually works when prospecting clients and generating sales. That technique is the Account Based Sales Development that we are looking at in this book.
Don’t believe me? Well, there are many voices of power and influence in the business world that have the same view. People such as John Barrows, Trish Bertuzzi, Steve McKenzie and others have all spoken about the way that they see Account Based Sales Development as the future of Business To Business sales.
These are people whose voices have a lot of influence in business and they are major proponents of Account Based Sales. They feel as though the way to do business is by building relationships and nurturing clients rather than pestering someone until they give in. The days of just picking up the phone to see what might happen should be over for those of us that can digest the information in this book and follow the simple steps we will go over together to implement your own Account Based Sales Development plan.
One major problem that many businesses have is how to reach their market. They might have a fantastic product or service but just can’t get that across to their target market. It is something that many businesses suffer from and some businesses go to the wall even though they have a great product or service that serves a need the market has. It is not just about how good the product or service is – it is about how you can get that product or service under the noses of all the right people. Like we looked at in the last chapter, a lot of this can be attained by going for the right people. By having a few great accounts you will be able to make as much money (or more) than you would by having scores or hundreds of small accounts. I’m not saying that you discard or ignore the small accounts that are bringing you in the business but the addition of some big accounts will help you to make more money in the long run. You need to be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket and have one large customer because if something happens to them such as they go bust or they move to another supplier then you lose all your income overnight. What is best is to supplement the customers you have with big accounts that you can develop and nurture your Account based Sales Development plan.
In Pareto analysis, the focus is on the ratio 80-20 and this works perfectly to explain what is meant here-
- The big accounts will bring you 80% of your business
- The big accounts will use 20% of your resources
- The small accounts will bring you 20% of your business
- The small accounts will use 80% of your resources
You can see from these ratios that your business and your customers are balanced with each other. No business wants to lose 20% of its revenue so you should not discard your smaller clients in search of the larger ones. Keep all of your customers happy.
Getting your name out there is a tough business. It has been labeled as “crossing the chasm” because there is such a gulf between having a great product or service and getting that product or service to market.
Traditionally crossing that chasm meant having deep pockets to support a mass marketing campaign or to sustain a sales team until they had knocked on enough doors until they found the right people. But we have already seen in this book that there are fewer and fewer single decision makers left in the industry. The scandals of rogue traders and people like Bernard Madoff have rightfully eroded the trust that any business puts in one single person. All deals have to be agreed in many places and signed off by multiple players before they are set in stone.
So crossing the chasm has become something that needs to be thought out and strategized to achieve in the modern business world. In many ways, this makes it a lot more interesting than throwing money at a problem of looking for the decision maker and buying them more gifts than your competitors. The strategy is that you know who the key people are in the organizations that will make a big difference to you.
The implementation of that strategy can be measured and monitored so you know how much money you are spending, where you are spending it and how effective it is. If only Henry Ford has this way of working he would be able to save some more of his dollars!
Account Based Sales Development is an innovative way of reaching out to the market and finding the right clients that will make the biggest difference to your business. If any of you have been a part of the global Breakfast Networking International or BNI network then they will probably know this already. BNI is a local chapter of businesses that work to find business for each other. It is a referral group rather than a networking group. If you have been to a meeting then you will remember that during each meeting every member of the group gives a 60-second presentation. At the end of this, they tell the rest of the group who they would specifically like to speak to, for example-
“I’m looking for a warmed up interdiction to Mike Smith of ABC Telecommunications this week.”
This is the way that we should all look at making sales. By getting to know a specific member of an organization (and eventually getting to know a group of key players in that organization) then you are able to develop a relationship with them that will lead to your company being far more likely to be selected for future business. What BNI is able to facilitate is the other members of the group can introduce you as someone they know, like and trust. Remember that people buy people. Instead of choosing someone because they’ve a cold called this week, the company that you want as your major account will be more likely to choose you because you have spent time getting to know them and are able to understand what they want.
In Part 2 of this book, we will look at why Account Based Sales Development works – why it is great. We will look in detail at the different aspects of Account Based Sales Development and how it can help any business to reach their Business to Business Sales clients to get more from the sales process.