C-Level Sell to Develop Large Accounts
Large accounts are cash cows for any business. We all wish we had more. We all go crazy if we lose one. However, large accounts require the most powerful selling skills -getting-to and selling profit center leaders and their staffs.
Two points of clarification:
- 1. Selling the C- level means working with these top-level, influential people so that they see you and /or your company helping them attain their financial goals. This is not about monetary purchases.
- 2. Profit center leader is the person in charge of profits and losses for the section of the company your selling. It can be a general manager of a division, or a CEO for a small to midsize company. It can even be a product line manager. However, the person must have profit and loss responsibility. It's not a CFO, engineering manager or purchasing manager.
A large account is not only a place for you to make lots of sales, it is the place where you're considered preferred. Preferred status carries with it, all types of financial advantages -- faster sales, better pricing, competitive advantage, no bidding, and more. To attain this preferred status, you and your company must be perceived as delivering beneficial results to the profit center leader and his or her senior staff.
Now if your sale delivers beneficial results, but the senior staff doesn't know that you and your company worked hard to produce those results, you'll get no credit for it and never be considered preferred. Either the employee will take the credit or you'll be considered one-of-the-bunch of goods suppliers.
Good work without recognition from the C-levels or profit center leader is like a tree falling in the forest, when no one's around. The occurrence makes a sound, but there's no one to hear it. Now, you may think your product/service is highly technical or possibly insignificant so that the top people don't get involved, but you'd be wrong. You might also think that the information is passed up to the top via your main low-level contact, but you'd also be wrong. Either they take the credit or it's your fault. Consider how fast you're called to the top when your product/service doesn't deliver the results or fails or is late.
Therefore top people, no matter your product or service, have to see you and your company as the reason for the good results. This is a task that you or someone from your company must gets done. Once this happens, you will now have the opportunity to communicate further to establish this company as an account with more sales opportunities.
You can not be considered preferred and without communications with the leaders. If the general manager says, "I like ABC company. See what they have to say about this project." You can make book, ABC company will be consulted, and probably get the job. Conversely, if a purchasing agent, engineer or operations supervisor says, "I like ABC company for this project," the final deciding authority will say something like, "All these guys are alike. Get us the best deal." This being said, the low-level person interrupts "best deal" as low price. Then you're off to a bidding contest.
For the profit center leader and his staff to say s/he likes your company, requires C- level selling. It is networking and getting past gatekeepers. Once in front of the leaders it is being able to communicate with C-levels so they talk freely about their issues and concerns that you can help them with. This being accomplished, you then have to present and discuss you can deliver solutions to those issues and concerns better than any alternatives. It requires credibility, good listening skills and relationship capabilities.
This is the foundation for building your account plan - the working tool that will ensure continuing sales and your preferred status. So many salespeople and companies try to build account plans based on information from low-level contacts. This is crazy. It's like a realtor or car salesperson getting information from your kids on what kind of house or car, you need to buy. Alternatively, many companies build account plans in their own offices without inputs or consulting very little with the buying company. This is plain stupid. It's like saying we will sell $X to this company no matter what they want.
So developing a large account requires C- level selling. It's more than making sales. It's more than keeping the low levels happy. Bond yourself at the top and you'll be solidly rooted to keep this account producing profitable sales for you while you keep your competition away. To do this learn how to get-to and sell the leaders. You must cement yourself into the areas of power. Otherwise your competition, who's constantly pecking away, will show up on the day you're having problems and steal your sales away.
And now I invite you to learn more.