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Five ways a sales leader can find and win new accounts

Five ways a sales leader can find and win new accounts

For a million valid reasons that are beyond the scope of this column, commercial security has evolved into an industry of account management. We do an amazing job of taking care of our current customers. In fact, I feel comfortable stating that we've never been so effective at servicing our customers. However, we're not very strong at growing market share and winning new accounts. This type of behavior by the sales team doesn't appear to be a bad thing when the economy is expanding, like right now. However, relying solely on account management without finding and winning new accounts can be crippling when the economy starts to contract.

What can sales managers do to reverse this trend? As the leader of a sales team, you're often stuck in the middle of every fire in the business. Where will you find the time to build a new strategy? How can you lead your team to growing market share, penetrating new accounts, and winning new business?

Below I've listed five things a sales leader can do to guide their sales team to winning new accounts. I've listed these five ideas with the intention of not making them inclusive—you can put only one or all five into action and you'll see progress. I've also intentionally left off the idea of “hiring hunters” because I don't want you to think you have to wait for a new team. The ideas below can be immediately implemented with your current sales team.

1.    Make every sales person responsible for new business. I created the following rule of thumb about new accounts for senior sales people: No matter how seasoned a sales person is, at least twenty percent of their business should come from new accounts. If a sales person is consistently hitting their number with their current customers, take away the accounts that make up the bottom 20% of their sales every year. After a while, they'll have a list of large accounts that take less time per dollar, and they'll be able to focus on other whales in the market place.

2.    Have each sales person identify a list of targeted prospects. Every sales person should have a list of targeted prospects that is readily available to display. New sales people may have a list of 150 prospects, and seasoned sales people may have a list of 15. Either way, every sales person must have a written list of prospects they're pursuing, and you should be helping them get in the door of those facilities.

3.    Implement an inbound marketing program. A well-executed inbound marketing program will help your company and sales people become the perceived experts in the market place. Of course, leads will be generated, but more important will be the awareness and credibility the prospects will have for your sales people.  They'll secure more appointments and move through the sales process quicker because of your inbound marketing efforts.

4.    Hold your sales team accountable to networking and social media work. Pursuing a list of targeted prospects and leading an inbound marketing program will be exponentially more successful if your sales people are networking in person and through social media. Networking and social selling puts a face to the inbound marketing efforts and will make the cold-calling efforts much softer and easier.

5.    Compensate differently for new accounts. Why did Jesse James rob banks?  Because that's where the money was. Sorry, bad joke, but hopefully my point is well taken. If you want to influence behavior, compensation should be a factor.  Two pieces of advice on this idea: For one, don't just reduce commission for sales to current accounts, but also increase commission for sales to new accounts.  Second, consider an account as “new” for one year after the first purchase. 

In conclusion, you can shift the behavior from complete reactive account management to also including some proactive new business development. Use one or more of these ideas above, and consistently put in the time for at least a year. You'll see progress sooner, but after a year or so, the pump will be primed and the new accounts will be flowing.

Chris Peterson is president of the Vector Firm, a leader in helping security companies improve their sales and digital marketing performance.


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