In selling, we bundle our accounts into categories – vertical, geographic, by size and other logical groupings. We do this, of course, to be more efficient in winning business. And it makes sense as descriptive information about accounts is always helpful. But what do these groupings tell you about the actual traits and tendencies of the accounts? How do they help you win, grow and keep major clients?
In the animal kingdom, we have categories as well and they certainly provide scientific value. But what meaningful information comes from knowing, for example, that two creatures are both snakes? While King Cobras and Garden Snakes are in the same group, their individual traits and tendencies are dramatically different. And in the spider family, how much more valuable would it be to know what you can expect from a Black Widow versus a Daddy Long Legs rather than simply knowing they’re both spiders? Understanding their categories really tells you nothing about what you should do when you encounter them. The information is simply not meaningful. Not actionable.
The same is true with accounts. And while likely not life-threatening, understanding account traits and tendencies versus simple groupings can be as valuable as knowing that tugging on a King Cobra’s tail is not such a great idea.
So how do you build meaningful account profiles? Consider four types – Keep, Attain, Recapture and Expand. Keep accounts are your typical clients. They generate the majority of your revenue. You’re happy to have them and want to keep them. Attain accounts are your profile prospects. You target them to win their business. Recapture accounts are previous clients, no longer active. Unlike past clients you consciously choose not to pursue, you’d love to have Recapture accounts back in the fold. Last are Expand accounts, your most treasured active clients. You have invested in them and look to invest further to promote closer partnerships and further growth. These are the strategic clients you want to tuck in at night. They are your future.
Of course, KARE designations have different attributes for different selling organizations. It’s important that the profiles you build are customized to your organization. And once you’ve built your custom KARE profiles, you align your accounts, clients and prospects, appropriately. Then, you’ve earned the right to build common actions for each profile. For your Recapture accounts, you’ll identify the actions to win the accounts back. And similar relevant actions apply to your Keep, Attain and Expand accounts. You’ll certainly customize strategies for some specific accounts, but there’s no need to start from scratch. Because the KARE accounts share the same attributes, the same traits and tendencies. That’s what makes the profiles actionable.
What about current clients you need to jettison – accounts where your margins might be abysmal or where partnership simply doesn’t exist? They don’t get profiles – just actions. If the relationships need to be severed, the actions need to be taken quickly. And sometimes, taking these difficult actions can improve things. Dialogue can dictate change and toxic clients can become acceptable. But, if this doesn’t happen, move on and apply your energy to clients deserving of it.
In all you do, focus on knowing your accounts. But don’t be complacent knowing simply that Black Widows and King Cobras are spiders and snakes respectively. Understand that their traits and tendencies put them in the killer category. Then, take the meaningful actions.
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