I was in Paris this week launching a social selling program for a global enterprise account that has thousands of sellers. For the majority of social selling launches, companies typically look at modernizing their digital prospecting to find net new markets and accounts. In fact, this is how 75% of companies look at modern, digital selling.
However, for our customer in Paris, it was important that they go wider and deeper in their existing global accounts. Their customer lists are so massive that they were missing the easiest opportunities right in front of them – to sell to their own customers.
Their existing customers had created new divisions and departments, which created opportunities that our client was missing out on.
But they’re not alone. In 2019, three or four of our customers wanted to focus on existing customers instead of adding in net new accounts. We were privy to their account plans, and we discovered an alarming trend that we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
Customers are using platforms like Altify or Revegy for key account planning. But in every single key account plan we’ve reviewed, there’s one missing ingredient for that plan: the understanding that relationships are either an asymmetrical advantage or disadvantage for key accounts.
Those key accounts included financial information, organizational charts, and accountability on key triggers – but even when they were talking about the organizational charts, none of them talked about the relationship or social proximity between their existing customer base and that key account, or between an existing CXO and people in other divisions of that account, or the sphere of influence between their personal life experiences, such as university alumni vs. key connectivity to those key accounts.
As you’re planning key accounts into the 2020s, it’s important to understand as you’re prioritizing and segmenting which ones to focus in on – there are data points such as revenue, market share, wallet share that are important metrics for you to focus your energy on; but you also have to understand the dynamics between account velocity and account conversion.
Trying to identify buying need is of course, one part of the equation – but the other part that can stimulate that buying need is when you stimulate a relationship, and that relationship decides to prioritize a project. So when you’re account planning, you need to to reverse-engineer each key account, and understand which key stakeholders in those accounts are connected in a social fabric to those existing opportunities or your existing customer base, and how strong those relationships are. How can your existing customer base influence changing the prioritization of key initiatives inside your customer base because of referrals? Also, how can you start to map how people are interconnected through a competitive disadvantage – meaning how are your competitors connected to people in these same accounts, and how can they negatively influence the velocity and conversion of your deals?
So I implore you as you find your footing in the 2020s and are planning your key account strategy: you must spend a section of that key account plan to map the relationships between people – good, bad and ugly – because it’s relationships that make deals. People buy from people.