HomeBlog Are You and Your Customers Ready for Account-Based Selling?

Are You and Your Customers Ready for Account-Based Selling?

October 03, 2014|Steve Silver

In a recent blog post, Megan Heuer wrote about the importance of aligning sales and marketing resources in order to pursue an effective account-based marketing strategy. Equally important is aligning your sales organization with your customers’ and prospects’ expectations.

In a recent blog post, Megan Heuer wrote about the importance of aligning sales and marketing resources in order to pursue an effective account-based marketing strategy. Equally important is aligning your sales organization with your customers’ and prospects’ expectations.

Account Based SellingAccount-based selling programs are high-touch, requiring a significant investment in time, energy and information transfer between the customer or prospect and the vendor to yield maximum impact. When considering an account-based selling program, evaluate expectations in five key areas:

  • Customer agreements. Customers seek to leverage national or global presence and spend. They expect uniform terms of trade and company-wide reporting to support their purchasing, service and support needs. Vendors seek to increase loyalty, engagement, retention, renewals and share of wallet, while gaining access to new business units, geographies and lines of business.
  • Consistency and transparency. Customers expect consistent product offerings, pricing, proposals and levels of service, while vendors seek increased visibility into account needs, activity and purchasing behaviors.
  • Single focal point. Customers want a primary contact to coordinate sales, account management, executive interaction, problem escalation and service. Vendors want to improve visibility and resource utilization while reducing duplication of sales efforts and improving coordination with – and utilization of – channel partners.
  • Products. Large customers may express a desire to influence product offerings, features and the product roadmap, while vendors want increased share of the customer’s category spend and breadth of product placement.
  • Partnership. B-to-b customers that are candidates for an account-based selling approach often look to leverage vendors’ expertise to improve their customers’ experience, gain competitive advantage in their markets and/or increase efficiency of operations. Vendors desire preferred supplier status, including long-term purchasing agreements that lock in revenue and lock out competitors.

While some companies and individuals readily see the advantages of creating closer partnership with highly capable companies, others prefer to keep vendors at a distance. Regardless of their viewpoints, alignment between customer and prospect needs and sales expectations is critical to success. Before launching an account-based selling approach, we advise evaluating customer expectations and organizational readiness. Consider starting with a pilot program of a handful of accounts to test assumptions, identify pitfalls and ensure that execution matches expectations.

Steve Silver

Steve Silver is a Senior Research Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Steve brings with him more than 20 years of executive-level experience spanning sales operations, sales and product marketing. Follow Steve on Twitter @jstevensilver.

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