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Recognize White Space When Working with Strategic Accounts

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: August 3, 2018
Image credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Sales professionals should build relationships with existing accounts to boost sales figures.

Sales professionals need to be strategic if they are going to grow existing accounts and protect the value of their relationships from competitors. Doing so is a cost-effective way to ensure that sales professionals focus efforts where they will be most impactful. There are many benefits to training your sales team to source new selling opportunities, or “white space,” within existing accounts.

Finding the white space means analyzing key information about the customer, industry, stakeholders and competitive landscape. This information provides a jump start that gets the sales professional on the field early in the game, when they can have the greatest impact. Insights emerge as customer goals take shape. Strategic growth offers benefits like:

  • Reduced acquisition costs
  • Preservation of priority relationships
  • Efficient use of resources
  • A repeatable method for driving win rates
  • Outpacing the competition

Here, we look at steps that sales professionals can take to become strategic in their pursuit of opportunities with existing customers.

Properly identify key accounts

Growing a current relationship starts with customer selection. Sales professionals must take the time to determine which of their accounts represent the most significant opportunities. In this early stage, examine “hard” factors, like revenue generated and product mix, as well as “soft” factors, like level of access, relationships and buying behavior. The best opportunities aren’t necessarily found in the accounts that have spent the most. In fact, these accounts often represent fewer sales opportunities because they’ve spent so much. Look for the accounts with the most significant potential for future purchases.

Understand customer needs

Targeting an existing account requires as much foresight as targeting a new one. Though a sales professional already has access to some stakeholders, it’s still necessary to build a plan. The value of expanding existing accounts is that it places the sales professional on this path early. In these initial stages, sales professionals can shape the customer’s thinking and properly frame their needs.

Demonstrate value

A compelling solution is not enough. Sales professionals need to be better than the competition. Therefore, they must find alignment with the customer so that the value of the solution resonates with the business need. Creating alignment involves stakeholder analysis. Sales professionals need to understand who will make the buying decision. Some of these stakeholders will have an existing relationship with the sales professional. Others will be new. The strategic approach to account planning means engaging established relationships to expand into new ones.

Focus on continuous engagement

Business drivers change, and that’s a good thing. These changes are exactly why the business needs solutions in the first place. To track these changes in real time, sales professionals must keep the customer engaged. Without this level of communication, the sales professional risks presenting solutions and insights that don’t resonate. Regular dialogue not only clarifies evolving needs, but it also boosts profitability because fully-engaged customers are more profitable than average customers, according to findings from Gallup. These customers offer 23 percent more “in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.”

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