Traditionally, sales and account management has been done from somewhat of a distance. With some understanding of a prospect’s needs, a salesperson would contact a buyer, and while qualifying them make a pitch. Based on the type of company, industry and other factors, hopefully the salesperson has ascertained the prospect’s needs correctly, can quickly educate the prospect on the necessity of the salesperson’s prospects, and start the sales cycle going.
But times have changed. Today, we have the internet, and on the internet can be found virtually every shred of information a salesperson might offer. A prospect can assess their own needs, conduct considerable research, and can then contact a vendor for the required product or service, perhaps only requiring a price. This can put a salesperson, armed with a pitch, a list of benefits and little else, at a considerable disadvantage.
Account Management: A Revolution Needed
Account managers today are learning that the way to winning clients is knowing them. It means learning and knowing a prospect’s company, and learning and knowing the type of buyer you’re going to be dealing with at that company. This is what modern account management software brings to the table.
The Prime Contact
Every product or service touches a different person within a company, and that person will make or break the buying decision. The first step in account management, is to fully understand who that person is within an organization. For example, it might seem worthwhile to aim for a CIO when pitching a software solution—at first glance it makes sense since the CIO is over everything computer-related. But who will be running, administering or using this product? If it is a system solution, that would probably be the IT director or chief system administrator. And that will be the person who pushes for this purchase, or doesn’t.
Once the job description is isolated, then you need to discover what kinds of barriers this person encounters day-to-day, what their needs and wants consist of, and what makes them tick. Simply having lunch with a number of these types of people—without making a pitch—will arm a salesperson or sales force with a very useful buyer profile. In the end, you want to be able to say with confidence why your product or service will be best for that person, and why he or she will go to the ends of the earth to sell it within their enterprise.
Account Management: The Company
Next, step in the account management process is to discover all you can about the type of company you’re dealing with. What are the barriers to achieving their corporate goals? How do they rate within their industry? How could they be better? You can find this kind of information out by direct interviews with a company’s personnel—again, without a pitch—and by online research.
Knowledge Equals Opportunity
Having all of this knowledge under your belt means that you begin the sales cycle with understanding. Instead of being just a voice at the end of the phone hoping your pitch will work, you are addressing the real needs of the person you are talking to and his or her company. You are actually becoming an ally to your prospect and truly helping them, as opposed to just another person trying to make a sale.
Customizing the Product or Service
Such an approach also means that you can, wherever possible, tailor your product or service to exactly fit that customer’s needs. This makes your product or service far more attractive to the potential client, making the final sale that much more of a reality.
Shutting Out The Competition
In the end, who do you think the client is going to purchase from? Someone who has shown they are a friend and understands their needs, or someone else who is blindly and forcefully pitching, even if offering a better price? The question answers itself.