Rainmaker Series: In the upcoming series of blogs we will share what we have learned in our work with senior sales professionals. Our intent is to present ideas in brief Checklist fashion. We welcome feedback if you have thoughts or contribution, and hope you find this series to be useful and thought-provoking.
This week we continue our discussion of key account management, by honing in on seven questions to review and think through in depth when going after large, strategic opportunities.
These questions appear simple at first glance. Researching the answers to them can provide you with a direction and road map to follow in pursuing these large, complex customers. If you currently dig deep on each of these, you will gain insights that will help you shape your strategy. If you are a sales manager, use these questions to challenge critical thinking with your account managers. Here they are:
1. Who Is the Customer? How well do you really know this customer? What has been their financial performance the last three years, and what is the implication of that trend? What differentiates them in the market? What value do they offer? What are the dominant business issues they struggle with as a firm?
2. What Is the Opportunity? Too many sales professionals don’t have sufficient focus. What specific opportunity do you want to pursue? What pain are they experiencing that you can solve? What is the compelling reason for them to act on what you offer? If there is no compelling reason to act, you probably don’t have a deal.
3. Who Is Involved? Have you met all the key players that are going to be impacted by moving forward with your company? Who stands to gain the most, and what areas of value are important to each of them?
4. What Does the Competition Offer? For the opportunity you are pursuing, who are you specifically competing with? What specifically is each competitor trying to leverage? Product performance? Financial terms? Relationship? Service? How does your solution compare to the competition? Where do you have an advantage and where do they?
5. How Will They Decide? Some companies have a specific decision-making process, but most do not. The standard approach is to establish criteria and then compare the solutions to the criteria. Do you know the specific criteria and steps that a company will use?
6. How Will You Win? Winning a deal depends on many factors. Ultimately, you as the business professional have to make a bet on the criteria that will allow them to select you as the supplier.
7. What Will You Act On Now? Based on your answers to the above, what action steps will you take to move the opportunity forward?