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way of winning the account. And the milestones are different with each large account.” While the milestones may differ, once a salesperson has laid down the path, the steps are there to follow. According to him, any salesperson can convert these steps into a detailed action plan complete with graphs and charts that analyze the opportunity and the salesperson’s role in pursuing it.


For starters, a salesperson must


create a detailed account profile that includes demographic information about the prospective client and key personnel within the client company. Having this information in hand enables the salesperson to begin de- termining how to best serve the client through a product and service match. The next step – one of the most important in the entire process – is what the consultant calls “customer value analysis.” It involves aligning your product’s key strengths with the client’s critical success factors in an effort to match the product with the client’s needs. “It’s difficult for most salespeople


to do that,” the consultant explains. “They typically walk in and throw ben- efits against the wall and try to see which ones stick. But we’re coming at it from the opposite side, saying, ‘Let’s understand the client first.’” To understand the client’s criti- cal success factors, “look at how the company differentiates itself in the marketplace today and for the next few years,” he says. The client may differentiate itself through its customer or value-added services, its image, its key partnerships, or its cost containment policies, he says. Salespeople can decide which factors to focus on by reading the cli- ent’s annual report, checking out its online presence (from Web page to social media), or conversing with key executives.


A VP of sales at a technology com- pany uses this technique frequently. “Where you have the most matches is where you develop your sales strate-


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gies,” she says. “If the client’s success factor is having systems available 24 hours a day and that’s your key strength, then you spend most of your sales strategy on that particular point.”


The consultant says the goal is to


“highlight the top three or four inter- sections of your product’s strengths with the needs of the client.” He suggests creating a chart that depicts where the intersections occur, which becomes a springboard for your first client meeting. After creating the customer value analysis, the salesperson develops an opportunity model analysis. This lists the major goals of the account, from profitability to relationships. List exactly what you are trying to accom- plish – from the price you hope to charge to the relationships you hope to build with key client executives. He also suggests creating an orga-


nization map that lists all the person- nel involved in your sale. These are often numerous when pursuing a ma- jor account. “With large deals there are a lot more people to choose from and you need to be careful making decisions about who you spend time with.” He says a salesperson ordinarily makes four calls a week, so “you want to make sure you’re spending those calls with the right people.”


‘‘


Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ARISTOTLE


The final steps of a large account


action plan include creating a critical path planning sheet – a one-page work plan listing the specific steps the salesperson must take to win the ac- count – and a critical path action plan, which is a timeline that charts the progress of the account. The timeline lists activities, dates, and personnel involved so a salesperson has a com- plete record of the situation. The goal, he says, is to increase


the odds of closing a major account while increasing its overall value. The sales VP says the system has helped her salespeople in a variety of ways. “We’ve seen better pre-call planning and a more thorough view across the organization of who needs to be con- tacted and included in the sell cycle,” she says. “The reps feel better prepared. It builds their confidence and broadens their view of the world.” 


VIDEO: SALES LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE


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