We tend to wander when we don’t have a destination.
The topic is Sales Account Planning. Not the most thrilling subject – until your account plan starts bearing fruit! Then you feel like a genious who’s master plan is coming together. In the words of Hannibal from The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!”
And yet, it seems to me that Account Planning is a threatened species in today’s business world. What might be some driving factors?
- Today, the buyer is a co-owner of the cycle. The Seller not longer controls information. The Buyer controls and equal share. So, how can the seller propose to pre-determine where he or she will sell their next deal? Hint: the ones who carefully choose their targets still can!
- It’s risky today to call your shots, and people are more risk-averse in this economy than ever. It is much safer to chase the next RFP that comes through email than to aim and fire where everyone knows you’re shooting. Hint: It’s worth the risk. You will miss some, but you’ll hit more by aiming than by blind shotgun blasts into the dark.
- It’s a lot of work. Once you lay out an org chart and determine “I’m going to map this in the next quarter,” you have a lot of work to do. Who’s got the time? Hint: Hard work is goo for you – and – social media and network accelerators like LinkedIn can make this relationship mapping go exponentially faster than it used to!
- It takes too much time. If I take a few hours to write a plan, I’m not in the field selling! Hint: a few hours invested in this activity will help you avoid many hours of wasted time chasing bad business like RFPs, hunting in the wrong vertical markets, etc. Focus your work on the 20% of your effort that pays 80% of your bills.
- It’s too formal. “We just do things more ad-hoc around here.” Hint: Good, then you be safe and ad-hoc in there, and I’ll get more business out here!
If you decide to see the wisdom and start account planning, remember that your plan should be a living document. It should predict as best it can the context of your prospect or client, but evovle over time. “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke. Meaning, your plan is going to change!
Whatever form your account plans take, you need to be doing this. There is no better way to create your future in sales.
What do you think about account planning? How do you do it in your organization? More on this topic in future posts.
While reading another fantastic blog post by Jeff Bullas (who if you don’t follow on Twitter you must – as he highlights and summarizes some of the most interesting concepts in social media marketing today) I ran across this summary of the 10 core values driving the online shoe retailer Zappos. Jeff’s focus was linking these values to ways in which social media reinforces the culture and the success of Zappos, and it’s a great post.
I’m still just processing this list (for the first time) on a simpler level. I am simply struck at how different these values are from most of the generic, boring, homogenized core values in corporate America. While reading them I asked myself (and urge you to do the same) how much better would my (or any) company be if we focused on these unique values?
Have a look and let me know your thoughts. Here is a link and the list:
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Yesterday, I had the satisfaction of closing a sale on which I’d been working for over two years. I can’t describe the feeling better than to say this is why you get into sales!
A two-year sales cycle is crazy!” you say? I would submit that it is more the norm these days when you look at the total life of a deal. As you can imagine this represented the culmination of many, many touch points with my client.
In their outstanding book “Professional Services Marketing,” the partners at Wellesley Hills Group espouse the concept of “Nurturing.” I could not agree more. As mentioned in the book, the “long sales cycle” equals the months and even years that it takes to foster a strong relationship while the client builds to a point where they have a real initiative and funding and are thus in active buying mode. The concept is that the “short sales cycle,” once the client is able to buy, is much shorter – perhaps only several weeks.
But you need to focus on the nurturing that puts you in a position on the long-cycles so when that buyer is ready, you are a trusted source for solutions and the obvious choice.
What are you doing to stay in front of your highest priority customers monthly, or even weekly, to nurture your way to more sales?
Fresh from the front pages…
Unless you’re dead or off the power grid, you may have heard the story of the flight attendant turned emergency-ramp-escapee Steven Slater, a huge PR fiasco for Jet Blue exploding all over the internet.
But, as covered in a Fast Company article by David Zax this morning, in a sign that major companies are learning to flex their new social media muscles to leverage perception in the marketplace and not just be ruled by it, Jet Blue responded in a simple blog entry that many are crediting for turning the tide on their perceived role in this mess.
Think of it – for virtually NO COST – and in a few pithy sentences, a major up-and-coming airline changed the prevailing winds of public perception fueled by a (albeit completely overblown) major news story.
That’s an interesting power that did not exist even 24 months ago.
Please lower your tray tables, fasten your seatbelts, and prepare for takeoff…
How engaged in your social media efforts are your executives? If you are like most of us, the answer is…not very. But why is that? Here is some great perspective from Erik Qualman. He takes an interesting angle on social media in his post published yesterday: Social Media and Executives Don’t Mix. This post is Qualman’s summary of a great source post by the social media firm DemingHill. It asks you to think about social media from the executive’s perspective. It is an interesting way to calculate the social media quotient at your company. Qualman takes these lessons away from DemingHill’s (excellent but longer) post on why senior execs often don’t like social media:
- Lack of understanding = fear. The rapid rate of change in digital innovation has caused CEOs to feel extremely vulnerable around technology.
- I want control. I want to control my company! I want to control my brand! I want to determine my destiny! It’s too important to leave it to chance (or simply be outvoted by the uninformed bourgeois)!
- Fear that it’s a fad. The truth is, I would love to commit to social media in a significant way, but so far nobody in my organization has stepped forward with a cerebral, strategic, multigenerational, integrated, systematic, and sustainable methodology and roadmap for synergistically capitalizing on this medium over the long haul.
So why should executives get behind the momentum of social media efforts in their marketing mix? The authors suggest a few good reasons that include: unfiltered feedback from the market, authenticity-“keeping it real,” and the fact that it’s a powerful but relatively low-cost marketing approach.
Check out the posts from the links above and see what you think.
http://bit.ly/crV3zP RT @eMarketer:
Personally, I don’t like these things. Who’s got time to play games? However, as a student of the art of social media, I do keep up on Facebook and see MANY of my contacts playing “Farmville”, etc. so I guess there’s an audience for it.
What’s been your experience? What do you think of online games as a marketing tool?
…is about posting at least 1x per day! Read on. This is good stuff on blog frequency…RT @jaybaer: Very interesting post (and great comments thread) from @justinkownacki about blogging frequency. http://bit.ly/ciuW27 #in