Change, for the win: Consultative Selling Habits
Many creatures of the forest, as we learned in grade school, tend to hibernate through the winter. After working all season to hoard their nuts, berries, and other fortifications, they slink off to take their long winter’s slumber.
Top-performing consultative sales professionals, too, tend to spend time counting their hoard, and at times struggle to find the motivation to expand their consultative selling horizons to add new clients, and to conquer larger frontiers.
So what steps can companies take to incentivize consultative sales pros to change habits, and make hoarding a year-round exercise?
At The Brooks Group, we work with clients on a process called strategic account management. It holds the key to creating the proper time, space, and motivators to support our sales team members in going after new, and often larger, accounts.
Formulating Your Strategic Account Management Plan
Here are five tips that you should consider when formulating your new strategic account plan:
Change Is Good: As you encourage this focus on the direction of a new sale, consider the changes that should be made in supporting the sales professional. Will you allow for a reorganization or rebalance of your consultative sales professional’s time, or perhaps lower the number of touches each month, to ensure they can focus on more time-intensive high-value targets? Do you need to restructure your business, so you can allocate an account manager to oversee the ongoing business? As you make changes, remember that money is a key motivator. For example, if they are relying on commissions from their activities and are now getting fewer at-bats, you may have to offer a higher reward for closure – or they likely won’t embrace the change.
Plan First, Then Execute: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, while still a general in the U.S. Army, once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” In developing a strategic account plan, you need to provide clarity on the objectives you want in cultivating new business from the marketplace. This is unlikely a short-term fix – a real commitment to change could take six months or more to bear fruit, depending upon the industry. Establish milestones along the way, so that your consultative sales representative can demonstrate progress in attaining these objectives.
Find a Champion: One goal in strategic account planning is to identify, then develop, relationships with key influencers in your chosen market, or at your prospect companies. Whether you need to qualify your company as a vendor with your prospective buyer, or whether it’s finding an internal champion who is a fan of your offering, it’s critical to log what we call “high gain activities.” These are the things you need to be doing with regularity – things you can measure – that help you penetrate the armor of your sales target.
Break the Habit: Remember, in order to activate your strategic account plan, you are counting on your consultative sales team members to execute the plan. As we know, human beings tend to be creatures of habit – we have an uncanny way of figuring out what’s working, and then just continue down that same path. To help ensure success, it is helpful to analyze your rep’s willingness to go down this road. We have tools here at The Brooks Group, such as the Brooks Talent Index, that help paint the picture of a person’s behavioral, selling and personal skills profile, as well as their motivators for change. Are they driven by the freedom to be able to set their own agenda? Do they love a challenge? Do they love to meet new people? Understanding what gets them out of bed and gets them going in the morning is an important key to strategic account planning success.
All Hands on Deck: Finally, remember that a substantive change to your sales targeting program takes a company-wide buy-in. If the company has cultivated a culture where quick results are the mandate for job security, it will be hard for anyone to want to make the switch. Projecting a sense of security and conveying the details of precisely how the company is going to support the individual’s prospects for success, will go a long way toward providing such reassurance.
As an example, I was once interviewed by a company that wanted me to start a new business unit. Before I accepted, I asked what type of development team would be building the new products critical for the unit’s success. The hiring manager said, “As soon as you get the orders, then come back and we can negotiate what type of development team you’ll have supporting you.” Clearly, this company was not all-in on its new business focus. At the end of the day, it’s about risk management – you have to invest for the long haul, or you shouldn’t be endeavoring to change that potentially lengthens the sales cycle.
Can we help you formulate your new strategic account plan? For over 40 years The Brooks Group has partnered with sales organizations around the globe—helping them to hire, train, coach, and develop salespeople and sales managers to reach maximum performance levels.
If we can help you set your team up for consistent sales success, let’s start a conversation.
Strategic Account Management – How to Exponentially Improve Customer Loyalty and Drive Sales Revenue
The best way to bring in revenue for your company is to develop long-lasting relationships with your key clients. By giving your team the tools to manage their accounts strategically, you can reduce your sales cycle, improve customer loyalty, and increase overall sales and revenue.