In a recent blog, I implied that learning your customer contacts’ challenges and needs can be as important as the homework you do on their company. But I think you can assume they will benefit from the success of your product — its implementation, in doing what you said it would do, and especially in the ROI. Whenever they recommend or choose you as vendor on their project, then your success reflects on them. But it offers an opportunity as well — to partner up in telling that success story to others in the customer company. Then they win by sharing knowledge with their colleagues, and you win because those are your prospects.
It often happens with large accounts that your buying customer is just one among several business units and groups in the corporation — other product lines, BUs or Geos. Account managers responsible for penetrating the account further can be daunted by reaching out to start conversations with the right people in these groups.
I was struck observing the practices of highly successful Global Account Managers (GAMs) recently that a pattern emerged in how their business with that account accelerated, by:
1. Initially selling a small-to-mid-sized project — "just got our nose under the tent," as one GAM related, for one area of the customer corporation.
2. Making sure the initial project was executed and paid off for the customer business — top and/or bottom line
3. And here’s the key point — helping the customer contact assemble a case story about the successful project — a brief but slick powerpoint with talking points and financial impact as the punchline; deliverable individually or jointly by the contact and the seller. The target audience: other parts of the customer business that would clearly benefit from a similar solution.
These GAMs were motivated to go the extra step of initiating the case story preparation in order to smooth their entry into other parts of the business; the buyer was motivated because telling the successful story accomplished career goals for leadership, knowledge sharing and of course networking elsewhere in their global company.
Top sales account or salespeople are often charged with selling to existing accounts and are told this is "low-hanging fruit" compared to adding new logos. But the low fruit reference may be a stretch — if it was so easy, then it would show up in the numbers and shorter sales cycles. Developing real partnerships with the contacts you work with can be jump-started by co-promoting a success that you shared.