As we watch our 2023 selling hours swiftly slip away, we look forward to the new year and the blank slate of promise that 2024 offers. And whether 2023 was a banner year or one that causes us to look back in regret, Jan. 1 brings the ultimate reboot. For selling typifies the time-worn phrase, “What have you done for me lately?”. In many ways in sales, that means “What does your January look like?”. So, what about Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president of The United States and a man who left us with a ton of iconic quotes? My favorite has always been “It’s better to be faithful than famous”. Ponder that one in reference to client service and you’ll benefit greatly. But in terms of 2024, I’m hanging my hat on this well-known classic – “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. And I’ll paraphrase Mr. Roosevelt with a theme I’ve often shared in my articles that matters greatly as the new year unfolds – KARE.
Think about it. 2023 delivered much change for many of your clients. While you were chasing your number, perhaps you didn’t take an in-depth look at those changes. Due to time, tide and turbulence, maybe you just didn’t care as much as you should have. And caring aside, your very business survival depends on your ability to KARE.
In sales, we love to bundle. We group our accounts into categories, like manufacturing and financial services. We also bundle geographically to be more efficient, combining accounts by location. Size matters, of course, as we group organizations by revenues, numbers of employees or other metrics. And we always designate commercial versus public sector accounts. But while these connections are helpful, how do they help us understand the traits and tendencies of our customers? How does the information help us serve clients in meaningful ways? And what does it do to help us now, as we plan to kick off the new year strong?
Mr. Roosevelt was a great hunter and was prone to saying, “I’m fit as a bull moose.” Adding that wildlife theme to our love of bundling, we group creatures into categories for the sake of scientific value. How helpful is it, though, to know that two different creatures are both snakes? While King Cobras and Garter Snakes may be in the same classification, their individual traits and tendencies are very, very different. What about spiders? It would be much more helpful to know what to expect from a Black Widow versus a Daddy Long Legs than just knowing they’re in the same species. While technically accurate, knowing creatures’ categories tells you nothing about how to prepare for them or what actions you should plan. Actually, the Black Widow and the King Cobra have a lot in common. Scientific designations aside, they are both killers and that’s some truly actionable information.
The same applies to clients, although not often at such a dangerous level. For understanding the differences of accounts’ traits and tendencies can be as valuable as knowing that you’re safer with a Daddy Long Legs in your bedroom than a Black Widow.
As I mentioned, your clients have changed. What you understood last January is history. So, how do you develop fresh understanding about their changed traits and tendencies for 2024? And let’s go wider by considering your prospects as well. Enter KARE, the practical account profiling framework utilizing four categories – Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand. Keep accounts are your average current clients. They’ll never make you rich, but they generate the bulk of your revenue. Of course, you’re happy to have them. Attain accounts are your profile prospects. You target them to win their business. Recapture accounts are inactive previous clients. Unlike past customers you consciously choose not to pursue, you’d welcome Recapture accounts back. Expand accounts are your most treasured assets – current clients driving major revenues, profits and potential. In essence, they are your future.
Of course, KARE accounts differ from one selling organization to another. As such, the KARE profiles you build have customized attributes specific to your business which you match to your clients and prospects to group them. This earns you the right to develop common actions that apply to each grouping. For Recapture accounts, for example, your actions will focus on winning them back. While customized pursuit strategies will apply for some, your Recapture actions will apply to all previous clients, saving you time and effort. The same goes for Keep, Attain, and Expand accounts. The actions apply because, remember – the accounts in each of your customized profiles share the same traits and tendencies, making for efficient and actionable strategies
Those 2023 changes you might have overlooked must be identified and understood. Some Keep accounts may be at risk of becoming Recapture accounts. Some Attain accounts may have a higher probability of becoming new 2024 clients due to changes that increase needs for your products and services. Understanding the changes in accounts’ traits and tendencies absolutely positions you more effectively for a strong 2024.
Knowing your accounts’ 2023 selves is not enough. Discover, understand and strategize for their new traits and tendencies so that you may serve them well. Once you do, they will clearly “know you care”. And that’s a great start in the new year.