Building accounts take time and focused effort. When you have a number of accounts, it may not be possible to pay the same amount of attention to each of them. Not all accounts will be worth the effort. By prioritising our accounts we can ensure that we maximise the sales we generate from the time and effort we invest in account development.
A simple way is to divide your accounts into 4 groups – for example, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Other. A, B, C, and D will work just as well. These categories will reflect the priorities for account management as well as development.
Gold accounts would be those that have the biggest potential for growth. Bronze accounts would be those with some potential for growth. but not much. Silver would be somewhere in between. Other accounts would be those where time and effort invested in account development would be a waste of time. Indeed, accounts within the Other category which are sapping a lot of management time and may well be worth considering to cease trading with.
Some accounts may be lacking in potential for sales growth but have a substantial level of existing business. These should be included in the appropriate Gold/Silver/Bronze category. Even though the growth potential is limited, the accounts still need to be proactively maintained to ensure that the account is not lost to competitors.
In assessing the account potential, you need to consider things such as:
A client may be important to us but how important are we to them? Finding this out is important but we need to ensure we get honest and valuable feedback rather than just telling us what we want to hear.
Engaging someone independent to interview your clients can be an inexpensive and yet valuable investment. You want to know the reality of the situation and what if anything you can do to make things better. Where we do this for our clients they are always surprised by the feedback – both good and bad. Often the exercise has resulted directly in sales opportunities being uncovered!
The objective of this account development step is to create a list of clients under each of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories. Accounts in the Other category will be managed on a reactive basis. In the next article in this series we look at formal account planning sessions.