One of the worst nightmares faced by sellers in B2B sales is when a key account goes from an active stage to a closed stage, in other words when it is lost to a competitor.

If we delve into the reasons for this, we will see that it is the people who are responsible for winning or losing deals. It is all about social relationships, in simple terms people knowing each other and liking each other. This is where “social proximity” has a strong role to play. Social proximity can be understood as the relationship between people or the relationship between people and companies. Social Proximity has become an integral part of social selling.

The other ingredients of social selling are social listening, social engagement, and social capital. Social proximity grows with time. However, in addition to growing your social proximity, you need to be wary of the social proximity of your competitors and the impact it has on your key accounts.

The good news is that as a sales leader, you can control the Social Proximity. For instance, on your LINKEDIN, you can run your 1-on-1 and incorporate the information on your validation checking of top accounts.

Above is a simple guide that you as a sales leader can use in your 1-on-1’s.

1. Establish the criteria to assess your risks

In order to evaluate the risk in an account:

a) High Risk

If your key account has past employees of your competitor, it is a definite red flag. This is a high-risk condition as these employees have the potential to mess up your plans.

b)    Medium Risk 

If your key account has certified project users who are experienced with your competitors’ platforms, and if they have a role to play in the buying, they will negatively impact your position.

c)    Low Risk

If the people in the key account have the high social proximity of LinkedIn connections to your competition, then your account is at a risk. For instance, if both these entities work in the same building and have social links outside the workplace, etc.

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2. Segment key accounts on the basis of the risk profile

Although there are a number of factors that cause risk such as poor usage/adoption, economics, budget, etc., we will focus on segmenting on the basis of risks due to “Social Proximity”. There are two categories, no social risk known and social risk known. It is recommended that you segment the accounts on a case by case basis for accounts based sales.

3. Develop a Boolean Search String

Boolean search strings will enable sales teams to analyze all key accounts at a higher speed/scale.

4. Reverse-engineer key stakeholders’ social networks for competitive connections

Competitive intelligence details can be searched with 1 overall company search. However, reverse-engineering social networks is a time-consuming process.

You will need to:

  • Connect with key stakeholders
  • Review their social networks (one person at a time)
  • Make an entire known buying committee giving due importance to the “influencers” from cross-functional departments for instance.

Evaluate the social proximity of your competitors with your key accounts with the help of the process outlined and mitigate the risk to your business and achieve sales transformation!

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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