Create Demand with your Key Accounts

Let us begin by reminding you that there are two – and only two – factors that contribute to year-over-year growth in media sales.

The first is your ability to preserve the revenue in your Key Account Portfolio.

The second is your ability to create new Key Accounts through a rational Target Account effort.

How do we do that? Well, if you think about it, all salespeople, regardless of what they sell, have three approaches they can take to create a sale. Any seller sitting in front of any client is either trying to satisfy demand, maximize demand or create new demand.

Satisfying demand is when the client is ready to buy something and you sell it to them.

Maximizing demand is when the client is ready to buy something and you sell them more than they originally intended to purchase. You improve the media plan and, as a result, you get more money.

Creating demand is different in that the client is not in motion to purchase media. It is the seller’s initiative that creates the conversation that leads to making a presentation and earning the business.

Satisfying and maximizing demand are both reactive. The client made the decision to make a purchase and the seller gets to decide whether the best approach to earn the business is to satisfy or maximize that demand.

Creating demand, on the other hand, is proactive. This is a very important difference because if the seller doesn’t initiate the engagement, the business will not happen.

We’ve surveyed hundreds of media sales teams to find out how they divide their selling time between those three selling approaches. Here is what we always learn:

Around 80% of their selling time is spent satisfying or maximizing demand – responding once the client has made the decision to make a purchase.

About 20% of their selling time is spent creating demand and most of that is focused on their new business effort – trying to create new business.

I want you to stop and think for a moment about what that means to your business.

What media sales teams are telling us is that there is very little proactivity happening towards their Key Accounts – the accounts that generated 75 or 80% of your revenue last year.

If that is what is happening in your sales organization, this is a problem for you.

It means your sales team isn’t being proactive with your Key Accounts.

Fortunately, we have a simple way for you to gauge how your team is allocating their selling time when it comes to your most valuable clients. At the end of this article, you will find step-by-step instructions on how to complete a simple survey with your team to answer this important question.

If, after you survey your sales team, you discover – as we have time and time again – that the overwhelming majority of their selling time with their biggest accounts is reactive, that represents an opportunity for you.

Help your sellers recognize how they are behaving with their biggest customers. Get them to realize how little control they have over their Key Accounts if they stay in a reactive mode and that to take greater control of their Key Accounts, they need to become proactive.

Make sure they don’t see satisfying, maximizing and creating demand as account categories but as three different modes of selling they can apply to any individual account. Create the expectation that you need them to satisfy, maximize and create demand within each of their Key Accounts.

Survey Instructions

Here is a brief survey you can take at your next all-hands meeting with your sales team to assess how they are managing their most valuable clients.

1. Define Satisfying, Maximizing and Creating Demand.

There are three approaches we can take as we work with any of our accounts.

We satisfy demand when the client or the agency expresses interest in buying advertising from us (usually through an RFP) and we sell them as much advertising as they wanted to buy.

We maximize demand when the client or the agency expresses interest in advertising with us (usually through an RFP), but we persuade them to purchase more advertising than they originally intended to buy.

We create demand when we take the initiative to approach a client that was not necessarily in the market for advertising – or at least had not planned to advertise with us – and we bring them an idea that causes them to buy advertising from us.

2. Help your team focus specifically on their Key Accounts.

Now, I want each of you to focus exclusively on your Key Accounts (you can describe them as their largest clients if your company doesn’t currently use the Key Account terminology).

If it would help, feel free to write down their names. I am going to ask you to look at those Key Accounts as a group.

3. Ask the team to allocate the last 100 hours.

Imagine the last 100 hours you spent interacting with that group of Key Accounts.

Please give me an estimate of how many of those 100 hours were spent satisfying demand, how many of those 100 hours were spent maximizing demand and how many of those hours were spent creating demand.

Ask each team member to give you their answer in the form of three numbers that add up to 100.

The answers to this survey will give you plenty to discuss with your sales team in future one-on-one meetings.

In order to create year over year growth, help your salespeople create demand with your biggest and best customers, your Key Accounts.

That’s our best advice.

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