Your job is to grow your accounts

Over the years, we’ve been very fortunate to work with a “Hall of Fame” of gifted sales leaders. One of them made a comment during a recent conversation that inspired this video.

Addressing his sales organization, he said, “Your job is to grow your accounts and not to estimate what they are likely to spend this year.” Who doesn’t love that?! Think about the clarity he created for his team: I don’t want you to wish, I don’t want you to estimate, I don’t want you to hope that the account decides to spend money with us. I want you to choose the accounts that have the potential to spend more money and I want you to grow them proactively. That’s the job. That’s the expectation.

Now, while I love it as a concept, I’m sure you recognize that his statement is simply a starting point. If he really wants anything to happen, he needs to help his sellers turn the concept into behavior.

There are three steps we would recommend:

  1. The manager asks the salespeople to review their Individual Enterprises in search of accounts that they believe have the potential to be much larger. Come to the next one-on-one meeting with the manager prepared to discuss them. (In our system, salespeople don’t have account lists or books of business. They have Individual Enterprises.)
  2. During the one-on-one meeting, the manager and the seller review the accounts and agree on the ones that the seller wants to designate as Target Accounts – those are accounts that the seller wants to grow large enough to become new Key Accounts by the end of the year.
  3. Next comes a simple secret to creating growth: The manager and the seller collaborate to set an annual goal for each of the accounts. It’s a revenue goal. An absolute number. Not a share. Why? Because it creates focus. It literally creates pull.

Imagine having a conversation with the team who’s responsible for growing the account. Those teams typically have at least two people – the manager and the seller. Of course, depending on the company, the account team might also include an account manager, some technical people, a strategist, maybe some marketing people.

Now, think about the clarity that the manager can create for a team if they say, “OK, we’ve chosen this account. Our job is to grow it to $100,000 by the end of the year. Now, let’s proactively decide, who do we need to know? Who do we need to talk to? What research do we need to do about the account to find projects we can help them with? Set an annual goal for the account and you will pull the team in that direction.

We know, because we have measured it, that growth comes from the pursuit of a goal. Here’s what that means: When you set annual goals for individual accounts and you achieve them, you exceed them. This is a very important phenomenon we have discovered.

Let’s say you choose an account, and you decide to grow it to $100,000. When you get the account to the goal, you actually exceed that number. On average, the accounts that reach that goal get to $150,000 or $160,000! That is nature’s way of rewarding you for your proactivity, your perseverance and your focus.

If you want your team to grow their accounts and not just estimate what they are going to spend this year, help them select the accounts they want to grow, set an annual goal for each of them, and help them pursue that goal aggressively until they reach it.

That is our best advice.

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