"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem as last year."
John Foster Dulles.
Are you serious about creating an account team that can think and act strategically? Or are you doing the same things as your competitors each year, and making no meaningful progress?
Based on a recent survey by Executive Conversation it seems the latter is the case for most companies.
The June 2103 survey found “understanding customers’ business needs” was the most important issue for companies. It also found that training on financial acumen and selling to customer executives were also of high importance.
Yet when you look where companies are investing their development dollar, there is little reason to be confident much progress will be made in any of these areas.
Currently almost 90% of companies include training on products and services in their sales development programs. And despite the fact that respondents rated their team’s product and service knowledge as excellent or above average, they plan to continue to dedicate the highest percentage of their sales development investment to more product training.
This illogical situation does not surprise us.
In our work across many companies and industries time and time again we see the same problems. The account team are so focused on selling products and hitting their targets that they spend no time trying to understand the customer’s business needs; they have poor financial acumen so lack confidence when conversing with senior executives. So, it is blatantly obvious why account managers struggle to sell to customers executives.
Today’s fast paced and resource constrained business environment has changed the game for account managers. Senior executives expect key suppliers to understand their business and they expect you to do your own homework. So when you are given the chance to meet with or present to them, they expect you to understand their business, your business and engage in language they understand – financial language. If you fail on any of these points good luck getting in to meet with them again.
Companies that are serious about changing the way they work with their key customers, and build more strategic relationships must get off the “product training drug”. They must equip their account team with the skills and processes to understand their accounts more deeply, and understand and convey value in business language.
So if you want to stop banging your head against the wall, do something different this year with your team to change the way you work with your key accounts. Based on the evidence you will be one of the few.
For help in changing the way you work with your key accounts call us on +61 2 9450 1040. Please share any thoughts you have on this below and subscribe to our blog using the RSS feed at the top right of the page.