Have you been making phone call after phone call, hoping to break into a large account? Today sales trainer Sam Manfer gives us the tips you need to break into these accounts - and tells us what you might be doing that's wasting your time - and not getting you any closer to that account.
"Large Account Management requires knowledge of where the account is going in relationship to its customers, competitors, industry and the economy," says Manfer. This knowledge is housed in the heads of the profit-center leader and his or her staff. So anyone that wants to manage a large account has to get to these leaders on a regular basis and learn issues, concerns, problems or target opportunities these people are thinking about. The only way these leaders are going to let that happen is if the vendor has established relationships with these C-level and senior executives. Here's the guide for large account managers to follow for establishing C-level relationships."
Successful account managers know there is a real purpose for being positioned at the top. Budgets are allocated there. Funds are released there - with or without a budget. Any changes to operations, systems or procedures are usually initiated there and are always approved there. Committees bring their recommendations for vendor selections there for approval.
Always ask yourself or your account manager, "What would happen to your chances of being the preferred vendor if your competitor gets there and makes a positive impact?" This should eliminate any doubt about purpose.
Getting to the top requires focus. If you set your sights there, you'll figure a way to get there. Caution: Do not ignore the people below on your way to the top. They have to be covered, but realize the job is not finished with subordinates.
Set your scope upward towards senior managers. Target those with P/L responsibility for the division, region, company, etc. where your products/services are used. If you don't, the ruling party will consider you a commodity that can be substituted or replaced, instead of a valuable resource to protect and use.
Confidence is the belief that you belong with these leaders. Unfortunately, the lack of this self-assurance becomes our worst enemy. The reason for this is that we have been programmed from childhood to fear authority figures. So we gravitate to lower, more comfortable levels and convince ourselves that the decision is made there.
There are also past rejection experiences from meetings with executives that went nowhere and rejection from subordinates saying in so many words, "You're not important enough to go beyond me." All of this conditioning has left many salespeople without the confidence to charge ahead and make contacts and relationships.
The solution to this overwhelming intimidation factor is to prepare for the meeting and prepare yourself. Get help from your information / introduction network. Rehearse what will be said and done in the meeting. Reprogram your thinking that this working person with a title is no different than you. Overcome any self-doubt by realizing you are feeling afraid and fear is just negative projection. Pump yourself up to positively project. Think, "This person wants to see me and our meeting will be great for both of us. If not, it's his/her loss - not mine."
Credibility is the door opener. If you've got it you can see this person anytime. Credibility means the person respects you, trusts you and believes you will deliver him/her results. Most salespeople develop credibility at lower levels. Establishing credibility at higher corporate levels is far more difficult because access is limited and what needs to be done and said is very different. Slip here with boring, annoying or no-impact selling approaches and you'll ruin any chance of credibility, further access and a relationship.
The key to gaining credibility is to use your Golden Network to transfer their credibility with the higher-level people to you. They need to refer you, introduce you, and help you establish respect. Once you're there, remember that to keep this busy exec's attention you must talk about what's important to him or her.
Finally, performance provides the real basis for attaining access, developing credibility and establishing relationships with senior executives. However, your performance at this level will be judged on what it does for the individual executive. It is now personal. Not only must the company benefit, but the executive must believe his/her career has been enhanced or protected by doing business with you.
Learn what the chief values and structure your proposition in a way that shows that she/he can get it better and with less risk of failure from you. Then deliver it. Measure the results by his or her standards and be sure the executive is satisfied. If so, that's great. Ask for more business. If not, set a course to bring the results to where they need to be.
Sam Manfer delivers keynote speeches and in-depth selling workshops for those anxious to increase sales. His hands-on coaching turns individuals and sales organizations into selling whirlwinds. Follow Sam's C-Level Selling Blog for more insights.