Meeting me in St. Louis over Thanksgiving weekend can be tough, especially if you're coming out of San Francisco! A little late is better than never with holiday traveling. I love St. Louis and have fond memories of the city. Especially with the sales staff and people we had at KLOU. They are exceptional people and they ran account management like the Auburn Tigers (or War Eagles, depending on who you talk to) run back field goals.
I often tell sales managers and sales reps that sales training is half the battle. The other half is successfully running your account management system with whatever program you are running, as long as you are running one. The RAB has a very good AMS (Account Management System) and there are several others I know of that are excellent along with one we have at Luce Performance Group.
As with all AMSs, it's only as good as your execution. This is a good time to revisit proper account management, since most companies are a month away from their fiscal year starting in 2014. Even if you were the Auburn War Eagles and didn't win any of your conference games last year in the SEC, there is always hope. In one year, Auburn is in the SEC championship game. It proves great players in a great system can make a difference. Okay, what do I know about football? How about those Missouri Tigers! Okay, I will stick to sales.
Your job as a sales manager is maximizing the accounts in your territory or service area through your sales reps. In account management, you manage the accounts and your account management system, not the sales reps. You train and coach your sales reps. You could have rookie reps and covering the accounts in a market is half the battle. If you have great, well-trained reps, then you can dominate your market as long as you stick to the knitting in the guidelines of proper account management. Being a field coach/sales manager gives you an edge over your competition as well, as you know the top accounts as much as your sales reps do.
Two things on account management:
1) Weekly Planner: As a manager, make sure you look at their planner every day -- it should be evolving daily. If you're using it to "police" your reps, then you have a whole other situation working. Use it to coach them before the call happens, versus just after the fact. Where are your reps going daily? Do they have a good call mix of active accounts along with keeping their funnel full of prospects? How much business is pending that is real? If they have $100,000 in real "pending" business, then at least $20,000 of that will come in at the very least. If you have five CMPs a week, then at least three or four of them will turn into decent closing proposals. Purposeful activity will generate real productivity.
2) Account Management System: Keep it simple. It's not complicated. It also keeps sales reps from having arguments over who has what account. Make sure your master list, the list of all the accounts, is updated at least every week. You don't want your reps out there calling on accounts that were just prospected on and a rep is starting to develop that account. It's a waste of time and money to duplicate your prospecting. Having a good team that communicates well together helps foster productivity too. They don't have to like each other, just respect each other.
Here's an account management system:
Depending on your market size and average sale, your A and B accounts will have different dollar variations. We will go with a medium market size of 300,000 people.
- "As" -- $30,000 annual plus: Accounts that are active in the past 90 days and/or have $30,000 potential. Your top accounts.
- "Bs" -- $14,999 annual to $30,000 annual. Accounts must be active in the last 90 days.
- "Cs" -- Anything active in the last 90 days and falls under an annual spend of $14,999. These are accounts that you likely just sold or got back on.
- "Ds" -- Developmental accounts: Sales reps have 90 days maximize (or less depending on sales management) to get these accounts on or they are moved, or kept on a rep's list at the discretion of the sales manager.
- "Ss" - Seasonal: These are truly seasonal accounts. Such as a circus or waterparks in Omaha, Nebraska.
Some other notes to keep it simple and maximize your revenue:
-- You should have a prospecting system. Reps have 30 days to work the prospect up to their list or it's gone. In other words, qualify accounts quickly. At any one time, a rep can have up to 25 accounts they are prospecting on during any one 30-day period.
-- Watch those D accounts. They can turn into cement if they are allowed to just "sit" there on a rep's list. This is where your growth is going to come from, along with upselling your active accounts.
-- You want to work your C accounts up to B level and work Bs to A level.
-- Strategy: Here's where we fall short in many cases. We don't have a legitimate plan for developing an account. We cover them sometimes; we just don't develop a true strategy since we are overwhelmed with doing things that aren't productive -- like reps driving around all day without a purpose. Strategy means you and the sales rep putting a timeline with a plan together on that account. It usually starts out with a good CMP on the account, and you can work it from there.
Account management takes patience, work, and focus. It's not easy. Putting on the World's Fair in St. Louis wasn't easy in 1904 either. If you ever get a chance to spend some time in St. Louis, you'll love the city!
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.luceperformancegroup.com.
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