If we’re going to act in a manner that adds value to those around us, we’ve got to make sure we’re spending our time with the right people in the right accounts. Adding value takes time and it’s difficult. This is why targeting the right accounts is so critical.
The reality is that many of us decide to add value “strategically”. That sounds good, but it’s not. Basically, we assume that we’ll know a great account when we see one. Then we’ll turn on the charm, add value in the moment and with our follow up. We figure the prospect will have no choice but to appreciate our efforts and do business with us – resistance is futile!
This assumption is wrong on so many levels, but many of us live this lie every day and it’s severely limiting our successes.
Here’s what I mean. First, we’re assuming that the prospect will notice our efforts. If we haven’t proactively decided to court the account, we probably aren’t going to interact with them until they reach out to us in some fashion (example: send out an RFP or ask for information). At that point, we’re not in the driver’s seat and are one of many who are likely in the mix. Standing out and being recognized for adding value at that point is almost hopeless.
Second, our eyes probably deceive us. By that, I mean we’re likely deciding that an account is a good fit based on superficial reasons. It’s not too different than the approach many people take in dating. Someone is good-looking or popular, so we want to date them. Then we get to know them and find out we have nothing in common, don’t like each other’s friends and can’t stand their annoying laugh or the way they chew their food. We’re a total mismatch! Just because an account has a big name, popular products or a lot of employees doesn’t automatically make them a good prospect.
Big named clients may sound impressive, but may be a drain on our time and profitability. Perhaps mid-sized companies would be a better fit, unless we’re able to generate significant business through the credibility we gain by having the 10,000 gorilla as a client.
Taking a subjective approach based on looks is ridiculous. We need to dig deeper. We need to know what we want. Better yet, we need to know WHY we want it. Here’s how.
- Decide What Good Looks Like – Literally. What characteristics are we looking for in our Target Clients? Examples may include being headquartered in our territory, a certain number of locations, we know they actually use our offering and have a budget to support it, etc.
- Examine Past Assumptions. This is a great way to cleanse the Target Client list every six months. Do the companies on our list still meet our criteria? Or have things changed enough where we should spend little or no time courting them? Perhaps they’ve moved, downsized, or made changes to their strategy that take them off the list.
- Who are the New Kids in Town? Examining assumptions is beneficial on the flipside as well. Who else has moved into town, or made changes to their strategy? They need to be on our list and deserve our attention.
- Analyze This! Once we’ve got a list of Target Clients, we need to analyze the list for certain trends. This is important so we’re able to group accounts where we can take a common approach and gain momentum quickly. Accounts may be grouped by location, size, existing contacts, industry, and any other way that makes sense for your business.
- Have a Diverse Portfolio. One of the best and most timely pieces of advice I received from the president of a past company was to treat my account list like a portfolio. I had created a significant vertical market in the construction industry. His reasoning was if the housing market ever tanked, I’d be in a really tough spot. Sage advice, indeed. I was able to devote enough time to other industries which helped to soften the blow when the housing bubble burst.
Knowing who we want to do business with and why brings much needed clarity to our efforts and will make us far more efficient than we would otherwise be. Next time, we’ll talk about creating an action plan to engage our Target Clients.
- How Do Salespeople REALLY Add Value? (bmwilliamson.wordpress.com)