The top four account-based sales secrets revealed!
When it comes to account-based sales tips, there is one guy who can revolutionize your technique. This is a story about George (mostly). I’ve known plenty of great account-based sellers, or as we used to call them, “B2B salespeople.” George is among the best, because he understands that selling is all about the people.
As senior vice president of worldwide sales at a large semiconductor business, George regularly visits his customers and learns why they chose to work with his company. Frequently, he gets a different perspective than his account-based sellers. As he says, “Salespeople hear what they hear and see what they want to sell.”
He asks clients what their experience was like and what differentiated his company and team from competitors. One CEO told him, “A lot of salespeople are aggressive and supportive when they’re looking for my business, but once they get it, we never see them again. Your salespeople were just as available and supportive after they got the business. You were there.” This important client may never go out for a competitive bid, because there is so much trust between the two companies.
For account-based sales teams, the return on strong client relationships is even greater. Well-served clients are a goldmine of referrals to their colleagues in other departments. That’s why referral selling is the most effective way for account-based sellers to land and expand.
4 Account-Based Sales Tips from George
How does George ensure his team makes relationship-building a priority? Here are the top four account-based sales tips we can all learn from him.
1. Focus on People
During the hiring process, George looks for salespeople who are self-motivated and show the same desire, aggressiveness, and commitment to serve clients after they close deals as they do during the prospecting phase. This is not an official part of his sales process, but it’s in the DNA of the individuals. He told me that if you get the wrong people in the right boxes, it will never work. But if you get the wrong boxes and the right people, it will always work.
George doesn’t just expect his team to keep in touch with clients. He reaches out to them as well. For sales managers with account-based sales teams, it’s important to talk to clients. They’re the #1 connection to your organization’s prospects, so you want to know how they see your company.
2. Build a Team of Experts
George’s company sells a complex technology product. When customers and prospects need support, they often look for the information they need on the company website or they try to link to an application support site.
Some customers are good at retrieving information, but there’s always the point when they need to make contact. George knows when that moment comes, his team needs to ask the right questions, dig deep to find out what clients really need, and help them put the right solutions in place. So, he ensures his account-based sellers know how to do that.
Technology doesn’t offer that level of support and guidance; experienced salespeople do.
3. Collaborate to Think Globally
George recalls when business decisions were made under one roof. Today a system is built in one part of the world, implemented in another, and marketed in another. Sales leaders and their teams need to understand the needs and wants of people around the globe.
The selling process continues to become more complex, and George believes that account-based sales teams must work together and share data to be successful. Because everyone depends on information from multiple locations, sales reps need to be able to trust their co-workers with information and work together to design better solutions. If they work as Lone Rangers, one of them might score a million-dollar deal. If they work as a global team, that could be a 20-million-dollar deal.
4. Sales Managers Must Be in the Mix
George assesses his operation and spends time where gets the biggest return—his team. He makes organizational development and training a priority. His goal is to foster an environment where people feel they’re contributing and know where they’re going, where they learn through the experience and camaraderie, and where they see results from all their hard work.
He spends most of his time in the field with his salespeople and their customers. He’s not afraid to take on the challenges that account-based sellers face. He says that when sales leaders put themselves in the mix, they know whether goals and strategies are actually being implemented, and more importantly, whether they’re working.
George isn’t the only sales leader who understands the importance of face time—both with his team and his customers. The most successful leaders have always known that relationships rule in business.
Why does Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella take whirlwind trips around the globe? He meets with clients and partners to glean intelligence on how customers are using Microsoft products. He even visits with schoolchildren to learn what they’ve been working on. He listens. He learns. He says children are the next generation of customers, and talking to them keeps him grounded.
If a deal is important, ensure your account-based sellers get on a plane or a train and show up (and consider showing up with them). While on the ground, ensure your salespeople attend events their prospects and clients attend. Set goals for places they can continue to expand their networks and deepen their relationships. That’s how referrals and business happen.
How did I meet George? It was a referral, actually. I was introduced by the vice president of HR for his company, who has been friends with my husband since high school. The referral to George has resulted in many years of exchanging and debating ideas and a wonderful friendship … and yes, more referrals.
Want to learn more about how referral selling helps account-based sales teams fill their pipelines with hot leads? Check out my Referral Program for Account-Based Sellers.