How to Build Valuable Allies Within Your Account

July 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM

You are managing a current account or a new opportunity. Your main point of contact is your biggest ally, but has limited influence. Ask yourself a question: “Who do I need to involve to close the deal?”

The modern Buyer continues to educate themselves even after you’ve made contact. It's likely everyone involved in the purchase decision has pre-conceived notions of your product. Good or bad. But identifying the key players is only the beginning of your sales strategy.

Top Sales Reps quantify the level and quality of the influencers within the account. They outline and execute a plan to turn each influencer into a trusted partner. Download the Account Relationship Map to start building your valuable allies.

 

 

The 5 Types of Influencers

In every new or existing account you encounter 5 types of influencers. They range from “anti-sponsor” to “partner/ally.”

  • Anti-Sponsor. They typically work against you. They don’t like you, your solution, or both. Why? There are too many reasons to list. But if approached correctly, an Anti-Sponsor can become your best Partner/Ally. They can’t be ignored. Every account has at least one.
  • Detractor. They are highly skeptical, though not completely against you. They are closely aligned with Anti-Sponsor thinking. While they disagree with you, they won’t necessarily veto your solution. But frequently they follow the decisions of the Anti-sponsor.
  • Neutral. They don’t care one way or the other. They are the swing vote you may need to close the deal. Don’t ignore them.
  • Supporter. They tend to agree with the Partner/Ally. They agree with you, but may not provide you the strongest support.
  • Partner/Ally. This is your biggest champion. They are absolutely necessary to win the business, especially if they are highly influential. An entry-level position is a cheerleader. A chief executive-level Ally is the silver bullet. Good Reps foster partnerships with the top influencers.
account relationship map

4 Steps to Build Valuable Allies Within Your Account

With every account or prospect, follow these 4 steps to be successful:

1. Identify the top 10 individuals that can affect your sale. You may have one or two initial contacts at the company. Have your contacts list all the individuals involved in the decision. Any level in any group is preferred.

2. Quantify the influence of each individual. What scope of influence does this person have? Are they positive or negative about your product? Are they active or passive in the purchasing process? The Account Relationship Map has a series of questions you should ask. You will score the influencer on each question. Then the tool automatically calculates the levels of influence.

3. Deploy a strategy to create more Partner/Allies within the account. These Social Selling tactics are critical to your success:

- Connect with each influencer LinkedIn with a personal message.
- Share insights to your LinkedIn network on a regular basis.
- Provide social debt by endorsing them or introducing them to new/valuable contacts.
- Add value during every interaction with thought leadership. Your emails and phone conversations should demonstrate your value.

Carefully consider your tactics when managing your account relationships. For instance, marginalize or convert the anti-sponsor in several ways:

- Address objections if possible. Sometimes they favor a competitor which is good to know
- Enable your Partner/Ally with tools to coach detractors and anti-sponsors
- Neutralize or isolate the anti-sponsor if necessary
- Expose hidden agendas

 

4. Work with Sales Operations to incorporate this tool into your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). Download the Account Relationship Map to capture critical information about the modern, informed buyer. These fields should be part of every CRM database.

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Topics: sales strategy, Key Account Management, Sales Rep Resources, Sales Skills

Posted by Dan Bernoske

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