Who’s your best customer? The one that pays you the most? One that you’ve sold to the longest? Neither? Both? A surprising number of sales organizations don’t know the answer to those questions – and that is quite likely hurting performance.
Customer relationships cost your company time, resources and money – commodities often in short supply. The accounts your company can’t afford to lose may need all three. Identifying your most strategic accounts allows your sales organization to harness its scarce resources and focus investments into initiatives most likely to generate revenue.
World-Class Sales Organizations have figured out the importance of strategic accounts. These accounts are not always the largest, but they are significant for reasons unique to your company. They may be accounts of long-standing, high profile, or unique in other ways.
“World-Class Sales Organizations prioritize their sales investments into maintaining and growing these relationships – knowing that revenue will follow,” .
It’s a strategy that works: 85 percent of World-Class Sales Organizations have established specific criteria to define a strategic account, according to a study. By contrast only 34 percent of other sales organizations do this.
This best-practice is one of the fundamental differentiators leading to the growing performance gap between “good” and “great” sales organizations as evidenced by the fact that World-Class Sales Organizations now outperform their peers by an average of 25 percent in key sales performance metrics.
“High-value customers expect special consideration. Sales organizations that connect to their strategic issues have an advantage,” Gavin said. “Sales leaders need to make critical, strategic, decisions about their customer-management strategy for existing clients, as well as for prospective customers – the ones that, with the proper amount of dedicated resource, could grow substantially.”
In many companies, new clients are treated like gold, when in truth it is most often existing customers that should be venerated. Clearly establishing criteria for what is, or is not, a “strategic account” mitigates this problem.
Sales leaders should use objective, fact-based, non-political, criteria to categorize accounts. Your best accounts need to be managed,nurtured and grown. Review your sales history with each customer and consider:
- What type of relationship do you want with each account?
- What can you afford?
- What is the long-term goal?
Then regularly review accounts to decide dispassionately where allocating your limited resources will have the most impact.