Want to know what separates your everyday sales rep from the high-earning pros? Focus. And not focus of mind. But focus of strategy. The real pros know smashing through quotas is all about working key accounts—clients with exceptional revenue potential.
So, how do you identify and work key accounts so you can start bringing in fatter commissions? Let’s find out.
So I get it, you’ve got a sales target to hit, and the sooner you hit it the better. Otherwise, you’re prolonging the pain, the stress, and the lack of a bonus.
With that said then, why do most sales professionals spend their days chasing their tails?
They fire off hundreds of spammy emails and make dozens of random calls with no real system in place. And there’s zero consistency.
If you’re not consistently making moves to land big moneymaker accounts, you’re losing out. Because the small deals get you close to hitting the target. But the big ones blow that target to bits.
If you want to crush your quota, you need to be closing what we call “key accounts”.
What Are Key Accounts?
So first let’s define what a key account approach to sales is –
Key Account Selling: A selling approach which offers strategic value to specific accounts, while distinguishing you from your competition.
So that begs the question, “what are strategic accounts?”
Let’s use an analogy of the people in your life. You probably have hundreds of acquaintances you’re happy to speak to every now and again. Perhaps you’re happy to help them out too if it’s a job that takes five minutes or less. But there are likely only a handful of people you’re willing to drop whatever you’re doing for to spend time with or help out. These are the strategic people in your life.
You get more out of interacting with them than others. And sales is the same way.
So think of your accounts being in a pyramid shape. Your key accounts are way on top and they’re the smallest. Your good customers are in the middle below them, and below that is the general riff-raff that you have to engage with.
Now what’s funny here is that if you run the numbers, I’m sure you’d find that this pyramid shape has an inverse relationship to the revenue these customers bring in each year.
The general riff-raff brings in the least amount of money. The good customers bring in a moderate amount. And the key accounts bring in most of all. In fact, key accounts will usually bring in more revenue than all other accounts combined.
And that means if you can close just a few more key accounts per year, you can massively scale your income potential.
Key Account Criteria
So that begs the question, “how do I uncover key accounts in the sea of crappy lead data that I have access to?”
The answer is simple – use the key account matrix.
We go a lot further into this in our Selling Made Simple Academy, but here’s a high-level view.
If we draw a chart with two axis –
- X Potential future revenue
- Y Current relationship with the account
And then split this into four segments, we can label the segments as –
- Selective investment accounts – You have low or poor relationships, but there is high potential for new business.
- Strategic Investment account – You have good relationships with these clients, and there is potential for new business.
- Proactive maintenance accounts – You have great relationships, but there is a low chance of growth.
- Avoid these bastards at all costs accounts – You have low relationships and a low chance of new business.
So to find potential key accounts, you then need to look through your lead data and find accounts that fulfill two criteria—they have the potential to generate lots of revenue, and you also have good relationships with them.
They’re the two key fundamentals to quickly developing key accounts – Good potential future revenue and good relationships within the account.
Building Your Account List
Now, how do you build up your key account list? Well all you have to do is follow a clear 4-step process…
Step 1 – Identify Potential Accounts
Identify potential accounts.
If you’ve got a CRM system, you may be able to apply this selection criteria to your entire customer base. That being said, you may want to stick to just 10 potential accounts. That way you can focus your efforts, at least at first.
Step 2 – Ranking
Next up, list your key accounts with the hottest prospect at the top and the lowest at the bottom in relation to potential revenue that could be generated.
This shouldn’t be a guesswork job. We need to uncover the potential profits we can generate. For example, if you are selling management services to haulage companies, you could rank these businesses by how many trucks they own. When I was selling medical devices, I’d look for how many endoscopes the account currently has, or how many operating rooms they have.
Step 3 – Strengths
Next, we’re going to evaluate our strengths in each account relative to our most relevant competitor. Think about how you compare on price, deliverability, uniqueness of offering, additional business services you can provide, variables like this.
Now give yourself a score out of 5 versus the competition.
Step 4 – Hypothesis
Now we’ve actually built up some data, we can use it to start to make some hypotheses about the potential accounts we should and shouldn’t go after.
If you’d like to make this data visual, then you can plot the data from step two on the vertical axis of a graph and the data from step three on the horizontal axis. If you then split this up into the quadrants we’ve already discussed, you’ll have an excellent visual representation of which accounts to focus on and which to ignore.
And then you can start building up your key accounts quicker than ever.