Say you’re in account management within a B2B sales organization. Your sales team wins a deal and you’re off to the races, doing what you do best: ensuring that your company delivers while simultaneously developing a relationship built on trust and collaboration. At the same time, however, you’re feeling a downward pressure to upsell, cross-sell, and renew. Increasingly, this pressure is coming down earlier and earlier in the relationship. That creates a paradox: how can you build and grow a relationship when you’re immediately trying to sell your customer on something else?
In the account management function, you have to accept the fact that sales leadership is counting on them to upsell, cross-sell and drive renewals. (If you’re in front of the customer, you better be selling, right?) That said, account management sales strategies need to dial down the sell! sell! sell! mentality instead focus on creating customer experiences that make buying easier.
Above All Else, Nurture the Relationship
Without the relationship and without trust, there’s no customer to upsell, cross-sell or renew. Account teams need runway to nurture. Sales leadership can put them in that position by providing the right tools and technologies that align with customer expectations. And, perhaps most importantly, they can recognize that the time account teams spend nurturing new customers is time well spent. That’s not to say account teams are getting some sort of pass. Selling is still very much a part of their job—it just needs to happen on the right timetables.
Have the Right Tools
Asking account teams to cross-sell, upsell or renew with analog tools like phone and email is like asking marketing to rely solely on classified ads and a listing in the phonebook. Customer attention span inside their inbox is fleeting at best. And the phone, while conversational, is for telling not showing. On top of that, today’s B2B customer has come to expect digital buying experiences, in part, as a result of what they experience at home. They expect a frictionless experience just like when they buy something on Amazon. They expect to have all the information they need to make a decision right at their fingertips, when they need it. Account teams that aren’t armed with the right digital tools that are required to upsell, cross-sell and renew are putting themselves at a legitimate disadvantage.
Know Where to Spend Your Time
Not all accounts are created equal. If we’re talking about getting the most out of your best accounts, by definition, that cannot mean all of them. So how do you determine which accounts get the attention? The answer has a lot to do with being able to read your customer’s digital body language. If you’re able to see that a customer is engaging with content, asking questions, or pulling in others from his or her team, you empirically know that they’re picking up what you’re putting down. Customers that do that fall into the “best” category. To double-confirm, if what you’re putting down is designed to lead to high margin work, then that absolutely qualifies as “best.”
Make Why You Exist Clear to Your Customer
Your customer brought your organization on to deliver a specific product, solution or service. But from the account management perspective, the relationship goes much deeper. You’re here to be a strategic guide. You’re here to be a collaborative, consultative partner. You’re here for the long haul. When your customer truly understands and believes that, upselling, cross-selling and renewing will happen organically. Altruistic? Perhaps a little. But the point is this: if your customer doesn’t believe that you’ve got their best interests at heart, no amount of upselling or cross-selling will do you any good.
Summing it up, getting the most out of your best accounts is, first and foremost, about relationship development and trust. Then it’s about having the right engagement tools and knowing which accounts to focus on. And then it’s about making sure your customers knows in their bones why you’re here in the first place.
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