Major account growth. It’s a noble goal pursued by all selling organizations that play in the enterprise space. The concept of expanding your business in your current large accounts is attractive for so many reasons and on so many levels. Consider the compelling statistics. Most selling organizations derive 80% of their revenues from 20% of their clients – the Pareto Principle. And acquiring a new major account is up to twenty times more expensive than expanding a current one. So, we have the time-worn expression, “deep and wide”. That’s where you want to go, deep and wide in your major accounts, these vast ecosystems of opportunity, these fertile fields of dark, moist, rich soil. And with a successful track record of delivery, you earn the right to plant the seeds of growth in that soil. Major accounts are marketplaces in and of themselves and most selling teams build and follow expansion strategies, intent on selling more not only to the first area of a client organization where they broke in, but to all areas of the customer ecosystem……deep and wide.
With delivery excellence from the account’s perspective achieved, having an account growth framework to follow is critical for sales teams. I had a sales manager at Xerox years ago who often said. “With big accounts, there’s always a treasure map. Find it!”. Of course, organic growth is a treasure in and of itself. This fundamental sales path involves the extension or renewal of a current engagement or contract and its potential expansion into other departments, areas or business units of the client account. Successful delivery of a favorably-received product or service provides a platform for delivering more of it to other organizational entities. With doors opened by happy clients providing references to their colleagues, it’s easy to see the sense in the deep and wide strategy.
And as major accounts tend to be parts of complex, diversified families of organizations, their extended networks present wide panoramas of potential customers to buy more of your proven product or service. Parents, subsidiaries and sister companies all represent potentially fruitful targets, with your successful delivery track record as the springboard to those connected entities. Think about it. If you’re serving Geico, the insurer, why might you have possible opportunities with Fruit of the Loom, the apparel firm? Or Net Jets, the aviation leasing firm or Dairy Queen, the ice cream chain? Why? Because they’re all Berkshire-Hathaway companies – family members, if you will. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Net Jets would beg you to sell them your products simply because Geico is your client. Of course not. But the connection adds verifiable warmth and credibility to the contact – a very promising start to extended account growth.
It’s a solid strategy, isn’t it? Deliver with excellence, provide a dependable product and earn the right to translate that success into more orders for your product throughout the account ecosystem. Build a client for life, right? Or maybe not.
Going deep and wide in an account’s treasure map through repeated sales of the product that helped you first win the client’s business certainly drives revenues, which is quite positive. But shipping volumes of invoices notwithstanding, the sustainability of this relatively narrow strategy is a concern. Depending on one product or even one product line leaves you very vulnerable. A competitor’s new offering with clear advantage over your product in dependability, performance, price or other areas can cripple you. A key client decision-maker with whom you have a great relationship can retire or move on. Or develop a better relationship with a competitor, putting the handwriting on the wall for your demise. And so many other potential problems can become magnified if your continuation in the account is based on a one-off. One product. In essence, one plan
Which brings up the critical other side of the deep and wide coin – going deep and wide not only in the account’s ecosystem but in your product and service portfolio. Your ability to deliver an array of your products and services to all areas of a major account is vital to your future. In fact, it’s how you stay relevant to your account and how you defend against competitive thrusts. You’ll take some hits from competitors, sure. But you’ll survive to live another day. To serve the client another day. To grow the account another day.
And there’s another side to the account growth coin as well. Because account growth doesn’t only benefit salespeople. It benefits to the entire selling organization and its stakeholders, who depend on the growth of revenue and profits. These stakeholders all lose, of course, if you don’t succeed in growing your major accounts. But the biggest loser if you don’t make every effort to expand a major account? It’s the account itself. For remember, they chose you among other quality alternatives, investing in you as their partner. And now they depend on you to provide increasing value by going deep and wide in their ecosystem with your portfolio of offerings. They don’t relish conducting beauty contests with multiple vendors every time they have a need. In fact, they hate it. They didn’t choose you initially as a one-off, so take your partnership seriously That’s the credo, the enterprise selling mindset – business expansion through value growth. If you play in this space, it must be your mindset as well. In fact, it’s your duty.