Well, we made it. We survived. The last eighteen months have been the most challenging time period in the history of B2B selling. But business operations are now largely resuming although we’re far from calling them normal. While we dust ourselves off and lament deals and commissions that didn’t happen, we should not be looking in the mirror. Our focused gaze should be on our clients and prospects. For many of them, the change is permanent, bankruptcy declared or closed forever. Your clients like Hertz, Latam Airlines, and Gold’s Gym. Your key prospects as well – Chesapeake Energy, Lord & Taylor, Frontier Communications, and many more. Of course, the vast majority of your accounts weathered the storm, alive today to tell their tales. Tales of changes that are likely long-lasting. Of course, you care deeply about your clients and prospects. And it’s more than simply being empathetic as they represent your future. But, while it’s important to care, your very business survival depends on your ability to KARE.
How about some context? In selling, we work with logical groupings. We bundle our accounts into vertical categories, such as healthcare and financial services. We also differentiate by geography, adding efficiency by combining accounts by physical location. Company size also dictates designations as we connect organizations with similar revenues, numbers of employees or other relevant metrics. And, of course, we separate commercial and public sector accounts. We do all of this to be more effective in our efforts to win business. And it certainly makes sense. But while these descriptive designations are helpful, what do they tell us about the actual traits and tendencies of the accounts? How does the information help us build actionable strategies to win, grow, and keep major clients? And how do they help us at this critical time?
Think about this. With wildlife, we group creatures into categories that provide scientific value. How valuable is it, though, to simply 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 quite different, to say the least. Considering spiders, it would be much more valuable to be warned about the behavior you can expect from a Black Widow versus a Daddy Long Legs than just to know they’re family members. While scientifically accurate, knowing that creatures are in certain categories tells you nothing about what to expect from them or what actions you should take when you encounter them. Truthfully, the Black Widow and the King Cobra have much in common. They’re in the killer category!
The same applies to clients and prospects, although hopefully not at such a life-threatening level. For understanding account differences in terms of traits and tendencies can be as valuable in a similar way as knowing that you’re safer with a Garter Snake roaming your bedroom than a King Cobra.
Your accounts have changed. What you understood eighteen months ago is obsolete. So, how do you develop fresh understanding, accounting for the COVID changes that are here to stay? Not about their tactical groupings but about what you can expect from them. Their changed traits and tendencies. Enter KARE. It was introduced in Sandler Enterprise Selling in 2015 as a practical account profiling framework utilizing four categories – Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand. Let’s take a look at each one. Keep accounts are your average current clients. They’re not rainmakers, 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 diligently to win their business. Recapture accounts are previous clients that are no longer active. Unlike past clients whom you consciously choose not to pursue, you’d welcome Recapture accounts back. And Expand accounts are your most treasured assets. Your current clients driving major revenues, profits and potential These are your truly strategic assets. Simply stated, they’re are your future.
Of course, one selling organization’s KARE accounts are different from another’s. As such, you build KARE profiles with customized attributes specific to your business and connect your clients and prospects with the appropriate profiles. You’ve then earned the right to develop the common actions that apply to each category. For your Recapture accounts, for example, you’ll craft actions to win them back. While individual pursuit strategies apply for some accounts, your Recapture actions, for example, will apply to all past customers, saving you time and effort. The same applies to your Keep, Attain, and Expand accounts. The actions apply because remember – the accounts in each profile share the same traits and tendencies. That’s the beauty of meaningful profiles – they’re truly actionable!
As we embark on these brighter selling days, we must recognize change. Some Keep accounts may be vulnerable or may be on the verge of becoming Recapture accounts. Certain Attain accounts may have a higher probability of becoming clients due to changes that increase needs for your offerings. Being acutely aware of the COVID changes in accounts’ traits and tendencies absolutely positions you more effectively to win, grow and keep your customers.
Know your accounts well. But don’t be satisfied with knowing their February 2020 selves. Last year’s Black Widows and King Cobras have changed. Engage at an actionable level by understanding their new traits and tendencies. Then, you’ve earned the right to deliver 2021 value.
KARE – for your accounts. Now more than ever.